The husband did not stop until he reached the ocean. Did not turn to wave at the woman he would widow.

On the farm outside Jamnagar they’d grown millet, but the drought hit, and then the famine.

The ocean was vast and burned his eyes, but the brightness boded well, he thought. In the dhow, with many other famished men, he did not eat for the first three days, trying to stretch his rotli and pickles all the way to Africa. It was terrible, being surrounded by water but parched inside.

At Mombasa, the colonial officer loaded them onto rail cars. All the way to Tsavo they sat in each other’s laps, breathing body stink and rotten breath and held-in urine.

He was not the first to cross. Maybe he knew he wouldn’t live to see the crush of others.

Excerpt from: ‘The Widow’.

About me

I am Editor-in-Chief of The Common. I have an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. My short stories, translations, and essays have been published in journals such as Guernica, n+1, Ploughshares, Ascent, Sonora Review, Harper’s, The Millions, The New Inquiry, and Publishers Weekly. I teach literature, creative writing, and editing at Amherst College and NYU Abu Dhabi, and I’m completing a novel called The Limits of the World.



The Abracadabrapolis: Joseph O’Neill’s The Dog, Slate

Thought Episodes: Norman Rush's Novels of Ideas, The Millions

A Rejoicing: Rereading Shirley Hazzard, Ploughshares

In Search of Past Dream Time: Two New Books by Andre Aciman, The Millions (Also: Q&A with Aciman)

Everybody Pays: The Extreme, Dark Fictional World of Donald Ray Pollack, The Millions

From the 17th Floor, Monthly Column at The Common Online

The Destiny of Borges, Harper’s Magazine (Translator)


Inheritance, The Journal

The Widow, Guernica

The Real People, n+1

Comfort, Ascent

Homage to the Man-Eating Lions, Sonora Review

Pregnant Lady, What Are You Fighting For?, Dogwood

Fasting, Words & Images



The Kenyon Review Blog.

The How and The Why (Black Hill Press).

The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Arabic Literature (in English).

The Review Review.


For inquires regarding The Common:
All other:

Frost Library
Amherst College
PO Box 5000
Amherst, MA 01002-5000