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Anelise Chen
Anelise Chen is a writer and teacher. Born in Taiwan and raised in Temple City, California, she currently lives in Manhattan’s Chinatown. She studied at UC Berkeley and earned her MFA in Fiction at NYU. Her writing has appeared in various publications, including the New Haven Review, The Rumpus, and Gigantic. She is currently at work on a novel. She is the 2012 Open City Fellow at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop.

Anelise Chen

Anelise Chen is a writer and teacher. Born in Taiwan and raised in Temple City, California, she currently lives in Manhattan’s Chinatown. She studied at UC Berkeley and earned her MFA in Fiction at NYU. Her writing has appeared in various publications, including the New Haven Review, The Rumpus, and Gigantic. She is currently at work on a novel. She is the 2012 Open City Fellow at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop.

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In a panel last night at The New School, writer/activist Mona Eltahawy, novelist Elias Khoury, and journalist Rula Jebreal discussed the current situation in Egypt. While Eltahawy and Khoury agreed on many points, they were in contention over whether an imposed “civil alliance” with Islamists would be the next crucial step towards ensuring Egypt’s development into a secular democracy. Eltahawy wondered whether such an alliance would put women’s rights at risk. Women were “the cheapest bargaining chip” in political negotiations, argued Eltahawy.

Her explosive essay, “Why do they hate us?” published in the May/June issue of Foreign Policy has already ignited a “firestorm” of debate online. (You can read highlights from the debate on Al Jazeera here. Eltahawy’s conversation with Professor Leila Ahmed can be found here.) “What I want to see happen…is for us to remove the Mubarak in our mind, the Mubarak in our bedroom, and the Mubarak in our street,” Eltahawy reiterated during the panel. “We [women] are the canaries in the coal mine. If we aren’t doing well, [nobody else] is doing well.”

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Dear Messiah (an abridged version, with some creative alterations)

Dear Messiah:

You worked as a traffic police officer. You had four children, named Osiris, Iris, Hypatia, [and something else]. When the virgins asked you for sex, you refused. You wore a long white robe and became a local icon, and exhibited a 666 tattoo on your forearm. Your status as a rock singer was very localized. Your speech was often peppered with words you had invented, like tangibilated. You addressed tablets to the kings and queens of the world, and of course you [wrote a book about it], under the influence of nitrous oxide administered by a private dentist. You said: I am! You changed the color of your gown while wearing it. You rode atop a lion with a seven-headed dragon in its jaws. You controlled the weather, and burned books of law and theology. You rode a donkey to the bluffs where you leapt off. That was the title of your famous poem, ‘The Tree of Bad Council’. You died in 1958 in Chatsworth, California. Or, you suddenly disappeared, and your disciples suffered and so tore up your bloody shirts for use as relics. We awaited your imminent return. On July 19, 1977 while taking a commercial airplane flight from Pakistan to England…