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Fancy cuts: introduction

There has, in recent years, been a push to rescue various ‘lost’ writers from obscurity. And yet the short story is a literary form deeply embedded in its time. Much of the energy that has sustained Overland throughout the years derives from its contemporaneity – its commitment to the urgent, emerging or marginalised voices of its day.

For Overland’s diamond jubilee, I wanted to acknowledge the incredible legacy of writing that sixty years of short stories represents but also continue a tradition of keeping our eyes on the present day, and facing the future – a future which demands fresh imaginative reach.

A ‘fancy cut’ is a non-traditional way of shaping a diamond, allowing the cutter to follow the outline the rough stone suggests, or to carve a pattern of their own liking.

In 2014, Overland has commissioned four contemporary writers to contribute a short story that responds in some way to a piece of fiction from our sixty years of archives. In shaping their responses, we have asked these writers to take any facet they wish – voice, character, setting, a moment in time – and make it their own.

The last of these Fancy Cuts is from Ali Alizadeh, award-winning poet, short story writer, critic and novelist. Alizadeh’s typically unflinching story ‘Samira was a terrorist’ began with James Aldridge’s story Taffy was a pacifist, first published in Overland 21, August 1961. Aldridge’s story is republished at

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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Jennifer Mills is the fiction editor at Overland. Her latest novel, Dyschronia, is out through Picador.

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