13 Jul Astra – Ecstasy
Surprise Subscription #19
At a time when the borders created by language and culture have never been so porous, and when the idea of distance seems to grow smaller with each passing year, it is surprising how few truly international literary magazines can be found in the world of printed matter. Of course, most literary reviews feature occasional pieces from around the world; but if you happened to be in search of one whose primary goal was to establish a cosmopolitan community through the medium of a magazine, you would be hard-pressed to find it.
Astra Magazine declares itself to be “the international magazine of literature”; and merely by scanning this first issue’s table of contents, one can see that this description is indeed apt. With authors ranging from Leslie Jamison to Fernanda Melchor to Mieko Kawakami, it presents a broad and artfully curated representation of the current state of global literature.
The theme of this inaugural issue is “ecstasy”–but not in the clubby “dance for twelve hours giving everyone hugs” sense of the word. No, the focus here is instead on the original ekstasis (“to stand outside of one’s self”, for those whose Ancient Greek is a little rusty). “Where do we stand when we transcend our bodies, our countries, our languages?”, Astra Magazine’s editor Nadja Spiegelman asks in the introduction.
As the reader goes through its pages, a potential answer to this question slowly reveals itself to lie somewhere at the intersection of cultural dialogue, artistic expression, and the simple joy of storytelling. In the end, the narrated experience of other people may ultimately provide the means of lifting us out of our own.
In light of this being a brand new magazine, we thought it would be interesting to hear how Astra Magazine came to be. Watch the short video of the magazine’s editor describing how it all came together.