Publication Date: July 2002
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Set in a Greek village in 1942, and purportedly written from his imagination by a Danish man before he was picked up by the Gestapo and not seen again, here is Ariel Dorfman’s haunting and universal parable of individual courage in the face of political oppression. Widows forms a testament to the disappeared—those living under totalitarian regimes the world over, who are taken away for "questioning" and never return.
One by one, the bodies of men wash up on the shore of the river, where they are claimed by the women of the local town as husbands and fathers, even though the faces of the dead men are unrecognizable. A tug-of-war ensues between the local police, who insist that the women couldn’t possibly recognize their loved ones, and the women demanding the right to bury their beloveds. As it evolves, the stand-off reveals itself to be a power struggle between love, dignity and honor, and the lesser god of brute force. A lesson in how power really works, and how it can be made to work differently.
Stephen Kessler is a poet, prose writer, translator and editor. Born in Los Angeles in 1947, he received his BA in languages and literature from Bard College and an MA in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He published his first essays and criticism in the early 1970s, and his reviews, columns, articles, features and interviews have appeared steadily since then in dozens of magazines and newspapers, chiefly in Northern California. He was the founding editor and publisher of the international journal Alcatraz (1979-1985) and of the Santa Cruz newsweekly The Sun (1986-1989). He has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Lambda Literary Award, and the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets for his translations of Luis Cernuda, and is the editor and principal translator of The Sonnets by Jorge Luis Borges. His recent books include NEED I SAY MORE? (El Leon Literary Arts, 2015), WHERE WAS I? (Greenhouse Review Press, 2015), the poetry collection SCRATCH PEGASUS (Swan Scythe Press, 2013), translations of Vicente Aleixandre, the essay collection THE TOLSTOY OF THE ZULUS (El Leon Literary Arts, 2011), and the novel THE MENTAL TRAVELER (Greenhouse Review Press, 2010).From 1999 through 2014 he was the editor of the award-winning literary newspaper The Redwood Coast Review. He lives in Santa Cruz.