Content Tagged ‘migration’

Adventures in Fact Checking: Molly Antopol’s “My Grandmother Tells Me This Story”

Our new series, Fact Check, is just what it sounds like: in it, Ecotone editors and staffers offer a glimpse into the world of the literary fact check. This first essay comes from managing editor Katie O’Reilly, who fact-checked Molly Antopol’s “My Grandmother Tells Me This Story,” which was reprinted in The O. Henry Prize Stories 2015.  

Ever fantasized about building a time-travel machine and careening backward through history? If so I highly advise trying the poor (wo)man’s alternative: fact-checking a work of historical fiction. Triple that recommendation if you’re lucky enough to land a story assignment as rich, riveting, and significant as Molly Antopol’s “My Grandmother Tells Me This Story”—the Holocaust-era tale of escape that kicked off Ecotone 16, the Migration Issue.

The story, an excerpt from Antopol’s The UnAmericans, traces 13-year-old Raya, a Jew living in Belarus and working at a “uniform factory,” and her illicit escape from her Nazi-occupied native village. Her travels through a network of sewers, and her inadvertent arrival at the forested work-camp site of a faction of the subversive “Yiddish Underground,” is revealed by current-day Raya, a Brooklyn-based grandma. She tells her curious granddaughter, a contemporary twenty-something, all about helping the camp’s young anarchists to build weapons, sneaking into nearby villages to rob peasants, and scheming to dislodge rail lines serving German policemen—all to attack Nazi soldiers. Raya also relays the story of her migration to the United States. Following a violent coup, Raya and the leader of the forest revolutionaries, fifteen-year-old Leon Moskowitz, attempt to immigrate to Palestine. However, they miss the quota and are instead loaded onto a boat to the States, where they marry and have a family, and where Leon becomes a career delivery driver for a beer distributor.

Fiction can be a tricky nut to fact-check, as its very definition lends authors prerogative to write whatever they please. Editors are not (or should not be) in the business of cross-examining anyone’s imagination or psyche; however, especially when a story’s setting depends upon such a loaded, complex, and recent period of history as this one, our credibility is on the line.

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Holiday Subscription Offer

Still in search of last-minute holiday gifts for your bookish family members and friends? We’ve got you covered.

When you purchase a one-year, two-issue subscription to Ecotone, we’ll throw in a copy of our forthcoming best of Ecotone fiction anthology, Astoria to Zion: Twenty-Six Stories of Risk and Abandon from Ecotone’s First Decade. The total for this three-title package? Just $25!

The two-issue subscription—normally $16.95—will begin with issue 16, which is devoted to the theme of migration—work that engages a broad sense of motion, memory, journeys, and movement in thought. Among many others, it features Jim Shepard, Angela Carter, Molly Antopol, Cary Holladay, Hailey Leithauser, and Luis Alberto Urrea.

Both the migration issue and Astoria to Zion—$18.95 retail—will arrive in early 2014 in a single package, and the next issue of Ecotone will arrive in fall 2014. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Place your order today, and we’ll even email you a set of PDF-writable  gift cards you can send to the lucky recipient, just in time for the holidays.

Need more incentive?

Salman Rushdie named Ecotone one of a handful of journals on which “the health of the American short story depends.” And in his foreword to Astoria to Zion, Ben Fountain writes, “Ecotone defines itself as the magazine for reimagining place, a claim that deserves to be applauded as a rare instance of truth in contemporary advertising. In an age where place has never seemed more tenuous and abstract, it’s hard to conceive of a more relevant mission for a literary magazine.”

Anthology contributors include Steve Almond, Rick Bass, Ron Rash, Edith Pearlman, and Brad Watson, as well as important emerging voices Lauren Groff, Ben Stroud, and Kevin Wilson.

Place your order today, because this offer won’t last long!