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This week’s World Forum for Democracy 2017 editors

Georgios Kolliarakis

Georgios Kolliarakis political scientist, is a senior researcher at the University of Frankfurt.

Rosemary Belcher-2.jpg

Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Introducing this week’s theme: Media, parties and populism.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

A journey through popular and ancient literature, from all corners of the globe.

Doris Lessing: writing against and for

The Nobel literature award honours an eternal outsider whose critical distance from orthodoxy fuels her work's remarkable "predictive" quality, says Susan Watkins.

[Also on openDemocracy: Müge Galin on the Sufi dimension of Doris Lessing's work - click here]

Chechnya: Russia's shame

Anna Politkovskaya, the Russian journalist renowned and assailed for her work in uncovering the brutalities of the war in Chechnya, was murdered in Moscow on 7 October 2006. In tribute, openDemocracy publishes extracts from work which earned her the 2003 Ulysses prize for the art of reportage.

(This article was originally published 9 October 2006)

An Ethiopian hero: Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin (1936 - 2006)

Richard Pankhurst charts the life and career of one of African literature’s most distinguished figures, Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin.

(This article was first published 13 March 2006)

The case for pre-emption: Alan M Dershowitz reviewed

Alan Dershowitz's advocacy of new rules to codify pre-emptive state attacks in the era of "war on terror" is partisan sophistry with chilling historical echoes, says Neal Ascherson.

(This article was first published on 18 May 2006)

Salman Rushdie's honour

The author of Midnight’s Children and The Satanic Verses deserves his mark of public esteem, says Lisa Appignanesi.

Kurt Vonnegut : a voice for life

Kurt Vonnegut worked through despair to infect a generation of Americans with humanity, says Christopher Bigsby.

The Lizard Cage

Teza the singer is in solitary confinement. A political prisoner of the Burmese junta, his world is now his cage. Read an excerpt from Karen Connelly's powerful novel of humanity, shame and survival.

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers

"Misunderstanding. Free world. Dilemma." A foreigner's first time in London, the dictionary holds all the answers. Read an extract from Xiaolu Guo's first novel written directly in English– a study of language lost and found.

A Tale of Music

The second of two short-story selections from a new anthology on literature from the "axis of evil". The bittersweet tale of two Korean brothers living in Japan after the Korean war.

The Vice Principal

The first of two short-story selections from a new anthology on literature from the "axis of evil". The tale of a dictatorial Iranian school teacher is a sweeping satire of censorship and free speech.

Toba Tek Singh

2007 marks sixty years of the partition of India and the birth of Pakistan. Sadat Hasan Manto was one of the first writers to creatively depict that era. Read his darkly comic and poignant short story of separation, creation and a no-man's land.


Zora Neale Hurston's tale of oppression, morality and sexual power in the rural American south of the 1920s.


A seasonal, life-affirming moment in eternity recalled in the gleam of Edwin Morgan's eye; in his home city, Glasgow, where else?

Orhan Pamuk and Turkey's future

The reception of Orhan Pamuk's Nobel award in Turkey is charged with the political tensions inside the country and in its relationship with Europe, says Daria Vaisman.

A novel without lies

Extract from Anatoly Mariengof’s controversial memoir, which was banned for sixty years, of the turbulent life of Russia’s “people’s poet” Sergey Esenin.

Orhan Pamuk's epic journey

The Nobel literature award belongs to Orhan Pamuk and Turkey alike, says the Istanbul editor of the Armenian-Turkish newspaper Agos, Hrant Dink.

Orhan Pamuk's prize: for Turkey not against it

Orhan Pamuk forges a literature for the world from the intimacies of his Istanbul, and in so doing gives Turkey's experience universal stature, says Anthony Barnett.

China's food fears

Concerns about the safety of China's food are on the rise. In the final excerpt from the Ulysses Award series, Zhou Qing looks at the underside of food production, from opiates in soup to pesticides in pickles.

Colombia: Country of Bullets

Juanita León travels to Urabá, one of the most violent areas in war-torn Colombia, and sees how the youth are protesting by turning their fear and anger into music.

Journey to the Lands of Cotton: A Brief Manual of Globalisation

openDemocracy continues its Ulysses series with Erik Orsenna's travels along the 21st century cotton trail. From Mali to China, via the US, Brazil, Egypt, and Uzbekistan, he explores the mechanisms of globalisation, trade and livelihood.

The Dog-Eaters of Svinia

In this fourth Ulysses prize extract, Austrian writer Karl-Markus Gauss travels to Slovakia and explores the slums of the "untouchables of Europe" – the gypsy Roma community.

The People on the Street: A Writer's View of Israel

Linda Grant went to Tel Aviv in 2003 intending to write a novel, instead her visit produced a work of another kind – observations from a troubled land of the "people on the street", and the discovery of an Israel of many aliases.

Forget Kathmandu: An Elegy for Democracy

In this second extract from the Ulysses award nominations, Nepalese novelist Manjushree Thapa chronicles her country’s democratic and political crisis. What does the future hold for Nepal?

The story of Freezing Point

In 2003 the German literary magazine Lettre International launched a new literary prize, the "Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage" to recognise and honour a valuable but underrated form. In its first year, the prize was won by the Russian writer Anna Politovskaya for Chechnya: Russia's dishonour. In 2004, the Chinese writers Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntao carried the prize for their seminal work, A Survey of Chinese Peasants, and last year it was British journalist Alexandra Fuller's book Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier.

Naguib Mahfouz: a farewell tribute

The great Cairo novelist illuminated a century's changes in Egypt and other Arab lands. His loss is also the world's, says Trevor Le Gassick.

Naguib Mahfouz: from Cairo to the world

Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006) founded the modern Arabic novel and forced the world to take notice. Roger Allen pays tribute to the great Egyptian writer.

Turkey 's home truths

After Orhan Pamuk, another of Turkey's foremost novelists is facing trial for "insulting Turkishness". Elif Shafak warns that the roots of this attack on her human rights lie not just in the murky politics of her country but in a global politics of fear.

Just the facts: truth and the internet

For millions, the internet is now the go-to place for news, opinion, connection, and community. But as information disseminates at lightening speed, what happens to "fact"? When every rumour, prevarication, or fantasy instantly goes global, is there any way to detach truth from lies? openDemocracy continues its PEN World Voices series with this panel discussion lead by editor Jacob Weisberg.

Pitch Black Void

The dark and soulless Moscow metro – "Russia's first love" – forms the backdrop for this short story by Alexander Terekhov.

Idols & Insults: writing, religion, and freedom of expression

Writers and thinkers, including Tariq Ramadan, Aayan Hirsi Ali and Hans Magnus Enzensberger, debate religion and freedom of expression in the third audio feature from the PEN World Voices literary festival.

Sleeper at Harvest Time

openDemocracy presents an extract from Sleeper at Harvest Time, Leonid Latynin's fantastical three-part novel that traverses 1000 years of Russian history – from a violent pagan past to a future dystopia and ethnic conflict.

'The Terrorist at my Table'

“Imtiaz Dharker’s poems and pictures hurtle through a world that changes even as we pass”

Pramoedya Ananta Toer: an appreciation

The greatest modern Indonesian writer has left a challenging as well as a rich legacy to his successors, writes Alex G Bardsley.

Argumentative Indians: Amartya Sen and Salman Rushdie in conversation

openDemocracy presents the second of a series of audio features from the PEN World Voices literary festival. Two giants of south Asian culture, the Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and novelist Salman Rushdie discuss democracy, migration and identity.

Freedom to write: Orhan Pamuk, Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie

openDemocracy presents the first of a series of audio features from the PEN World Voices literary festival. Salman Rushdie, Orhan Pamuk and Margaret Atwood discuss power, shame and saying the unsayable.

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