I’m writing this three days after the presidential election and like so many of you, I am struggling. I am sad, scared, and furious, and I’m questioning the relevance and impact of writing and publishing fiction in a time of deep social and political crisis, when lives and safety are at risk.

This is my first issue as Drunken Boat’s co-fiction editor. While thinking about what to write for this introduction, I thought about how I had initially responded to the call for editors because I was drawn to the journal’s mission of promoting the work of underrepresented artists. I’ve always believed that for those of us who have been forbidden or discouraged from telling our stories, writing can be an act of survival and resistance. And so can publishing the stories of underrepresented writers – women of color, queer writers, international writers – especially in the face of ongoing white supremacy, American imperialism, misogyny, and homophobia. Writing and publishing are not the only forms of action, but they’re not insignificant. I reminded myself too of a quote from Jeff Chang’s Who We Be: The Colorization of America: “Cultural change always precedes political change. Put another way, political change is the last manifestation of cultural shifts that have already occurred.”

So it’s my hope that with the eight compelling stories in this issue – with settings that range from the US to Angola, South Korea, India, Malaysia, and Jamaica – we are doing our own small part. Our work is cut out for us. But we’ve already been writing.

Huge thanks to my co-editor, Sybil Baker, Fiction Assistant Editor Tracey Rose, Fiction Associate Editor Piyali Bhattacharya, and Fiction Reader Kathryn Henion. It’s a gift to be able to work with all of you.

Lisa Ko
Fiction Editor
November 2016

Lisa Ko

Lisa Ko is a writer and editor living in New York City. Her fiction has appeared in Apogee Journal, Copper Nickel, Storychord, Narrative, One Teen Story, Brooklyn Review, and elsewhere. A founding co-editor of Hyphen magazine, she has been awarded fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, Writers OMI at Ledig House, the Jerome Foundation, Blue Mountain Center, the Van Lier Foundation, and Hawthornden Castle. Her novel, The Leavers, received the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.

Sybil Baker

Sybil Baker’s Immigration Essays was selected as the 2018-2019 Read2Achieve book for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Freshmen First Year Reading Experience. She is also the author of The Life Plan, Talismans, and Into This World, which received an Eric Hoffer Award Honorable Mention and was a finalist for Foreword’s INDIES Best Book of the Year Award. A UC Foundation Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Sybil was awarded two MakeWork Artist Grants and a 2017 Individual Artist's Fellowship from the Tennessee Arts Commission. She is on faculty for VCFA’s inaugural low-residency international MFA program. Her novel While You Were Gone will be published with C&R Press in spring 2018.


YZ Chin