When we first launched this call, all we knew was that we wanted to create a special Witness prose issue that featured Asian voices from all across the globe. We could never have expected the hearteningly exuberant response and the outpouring of community support our call received. The result is Saṃsāra, a collection of stories that platforms the written word as penned exclusively by Asian authors.
Join us in reading heartstring-tugging fiction where love proves an antidote to colorism-based violence, and where a marriage disintegrates along with a wife whose body mysteriously transforms into food. Dive into nonfiction that inspects the extent that immigrants have to confront their morality and personal prejudices as they navigate survival in a new country, and narrates same-sex relationships amid a diverse, cosmopolitan lifestyle. Explore tales of escape from war-torn lands while being simultaneously goaded and haunted by departed ancestors and personal essays of wonderful brevity and nuanced language from adoptees living in White spaces who constantly face questions of origin and identity. These are just a few of the unique, enriching pieces that left us in awe—and we trust they will leave you feeling the same.
We named this issue Saṃsāra, not for reasons that may seem intuitive, but for the word’s many diverse meanings. It’s well-known that saṃsāra represents rebirth, the ongoing cycle of life and matter. But, it is also another word for “world.” What better title for an issue that seeks to highlight Asian authors from all over the world, from every corner of the diaspora? The world continues to be an unsteady, foreboding place in many respects. It cannot be dismissed that our call for submissions went out a week following the anniversary of the 2021 Atlanta spa shootings. Despite these troubling times, through this issue, we send our hope for a rebirthed world where things can begin anew: our hope that we can help the cycle by amplifying voices that matter.
Ultimately, Saṃsāra is our pledge to celebrate stories that so often go unheard. We dedicate this issue to every Asian writer who allowed us to read their work, without whom the necessity of such an issue would never have been realized. We also dedicate it to every reader it will reach and hopefully inspire. We see you. We hear you. And we thank you.
—Areej Quraishi & Mir Arif
Lead Editors Areej Quraishi & Mir Arif
Assistant Editor Xueyi Zhou
Layout & Design Editor Lindsay Olson
Managing Editor Christina Berke
Contributing Editors Helen Armstrong, Veronica Klash,
Lynda Montgomery, Vandana Sehrawat, Marlan Smith
Readers Erika Abad, Charlie Bartlett, Audrey Bauman, Jordan Forest,
Sara Guiang, Eli Jacobs, Nicole Minton, Jesse Motte, Kelly Stith,
Sara Tausendfreund, Tonya Todd, Olivia Williams