‘The Possibility of Joy’

From personal essays about Djiboutian marathon running, profiles of Uzbek arm-wrestlers, reporting about Turkey’s female hockey teams, and memoirs of Italian football glory, these pieces testify to the art, cultural function, and personal necessity of play.

The Deep End

An American living in Italy gives water polo a shot: “With every ounce of remaining strength, I leapt from the water, caught the pass, and launched the ball towards the goal.”

Playing in the Ruins

In Amman, a beloved playground becomes a popular tourist attraction. “When the archaeologists came to dig they would leave holes,” Yoseph said. “We had fun playing in the sand piles and refilling their holes.”

‘Where Are You Going?’

In three contemporary films from Kazakhstan, Hungary, and Chile, awe is the antidote to savagery.

Ancestral Echoes

Jarred McAfee goes in search of his last name in Scotland: “In the end, perhaps the outside elements are what unite us. Perhaps what flows from without trumps what flows from within.”