Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small PlanetVolume III is now available for pre-order. Like the earlier volumes, this book includes 20 short stories by 20 writers set in 20 countries. Mark Jacobs’s story is set in Côte d’Ivoire.
A former U.S. foreign service officer, Mark Jacobs has published 129 stories in magazines including The Atlantic, Playboy, The Baffler, The Kenyon Review, and The Southern Review. His story “How Birds Communicate” won The Iowa Review fiction prize. He has stories forthcoming in several magazines including The Hudson Review. His story “Dream State” won the Dr. T.J. Eckleburg Kafka Prize. His five books include A Handful of Kings, published by Simon and Shuster, and Stone Cowboy, by Soho Press, which won the Maria Thomas Award. His website can be found at http://www.markjacobsauthor.com.
Comment on “Getting Out”: During several visits to Africa, I ran into Lebanese who were living and working in countries that were and were not their own. In some cases, they were born in Africa, like the principal characters in “Getting Out,” who were born in Côte d’Ivoire. But they retained their Arabic, their French, even if they learned indigenous languages. And they retained their cultural identity as Lebanese. It struck me as a condition of permanent exile. Their experience was quite different from that of my father’s family, who emigrated to the United States in the early years of the twentieth century. In the course of a generation, the Jacobs family lost most of their Arabic at a rate roughly commensurate with their adoption of a new identity as Americans. But the line that reverberates in the memory of Anton Khoury— “The Lebanese are Phoenicians, the Lebanese are traders”—reverberates in mine, too. In Anton’s case, it belonged to his grandfather. In my case, it was something my father, Tom Jacobs, used to say.