Category: Dispatches

Dispatch from Florence’s Festival degli Scrittori

by Maaza Mengiste, June 24, 2015

The ninth annual Festival degli Scrittori and the Premio von Rezzori, a Florence-based literary festival that culminates in a ceremony conferring the Premio von Rezzori for best foreign literary work and best translation of a foreign work, was held from June 10 through  June 12, 2015. It opened… more »

Category: Dispatches

Crafting a Cultural Idiom of Engagement: The US President’s Persian Poetry (Part 1)

by Kevin Schwartz and Aria Fani, April 23, 2015

Image of Crafting a Cultural Idiom of Engagement: The US President’s Persian Poetry (Part 1)
The events culminating in the interim agreement between Iran and the members of the P5+1 group in Lausanne, Switzerland over Iran’s nuclear program are sure to attract historians wishing to understand how two countries with minimal diplomatic ties (severed more than three decades ago) were able… more »

Category: Dispatches


by Susan Harris, April 2, 2015

If you’re heading to the Associated Writing Programs conference in Minneapolis next week, then you already know about the wealth of translation panels, events, and general buzz on offer. ALTA  has compiled a most useful schedule here.  We're sponsoring two panels and taking part… more »

Category: Dispatches

Notes on Credulity, part 2

by Amanda Michalopoulou, March 19, 2015

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Read the first part of this essay here. My father cherished two things: Mass and the opera. He was a cantor in the church and when he used to visit us in Berlin, where we lived for a number of years, he’d regularly visit the Komische Oper—always alone. Was he protecting what he loved from… more »

Category: Dispatches

Notes on Credulity, part 1

by Amanda Michalopoulou, March 18, 2015

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The best one can hope for as a human being is to have a relationship with that emptiness where God would be if God was available, but God isn’t.      —Anne Carson No writer lacks belief in the metaphysical. When Joyce writes to Nora, “How I hate God and death,”… more »

Category: Dispatches

Spirited Away: Hideo Furukawa’s “Horses, Horses, in the Innocence of Light,” Part 2

by Hideo Furakawa, March 12, 2015

Read the first part of this excerpt here. We took off in the middle of the night. Four of us stuffed into a small car with a license plate from Kashiwa, in Chiba. A rental car. For the people from Shinchō publishing this was just a continuation of the evening. Not for me. For me, following one or… more »

Category: Dispatches

Spirited Away: Hideo Furukawa’s “Horses, Horses, in the Innocence of Light,” Part 1

by Hideo Furakawa, March 11, 2015

Translator's Note: Furukawa Hideo is one of the most powerful and energetic of contemporary Japanese writers. His writings, like his readings, come in torrents. They reflect his background in theater and stage. While Furukawa is from Fukushima Prefecture, from a town called Kōriyama, and while… more »

Category: Dispatches

Ode to the Mango: My Dinners with Neruda

by Suzanne Jill Levine, January 29, 2015

The one time I visited Santiago de Chile—it was July 1991, winter in the southern hemisphere, and the days were sunny, cold and crisp—I made the pilgrimage to Pablo Neruda’s house on the coast, in a place called Isla Negra. My reason for this trip to the Cono Sur—I would also… more »

Category: Dispatches

A New Name for Newborns

by Serge Pey, January 10, 2015

This poem was written for the January 11, 2015, unity march in Paris in response to the Charlie Hebdo murders. It is translated into English by Dan Bellm. When I was born my mother gave me a name I didn’t choose out of all the alphabets  and letters I’ve carried it around nonstop I’ve… more »

Category: Dispatches

The New Normal: On Cuba and the Power of Translation

by Esther Allen, December 19, 2014

During the historic speech on December 17, 2014, when he announced the normalization of relations with Cuba, Barack Obama turned to address the Cuban people directly. He began with a citation from José Martí: "Liberty is the right of every man to be honest." Cultural anthropologist Ruth… more »

Category: Dispatches

Stories from the Country of the Dead

by Juan Pablo Villalobos, November 25, 2014

Last year, I was invited to write a story for a Latin American crime fiction anthology.  The idea was to use elements borrowed from murder mysteries and noir to reflect on the reality in our countries.  I liked the sound of the project, accepted the invitation, and then spent the following… more »

Category: Dispatches

Celebrating WWB and Carol Brown Janeway: Our 2014 Gala and First Annual Globe Trot

by Susan Harris, October 30, 2014

Tuesday night WWB staff, board, contributors, supporters, and readers gathered at Tribeca 360, where the panoramic view mirrored the sweep of our content, to celebrate our eleventh anniversary and present the second James H. Ottaway Jr. Award for the Promotion of International Literature… more »

Category: Dispatches

Naming the Arab: Kamel Daoud’s “Meursault, contre-enquête”

by Suzanne Ruta, June 18, 2014

The Algerian novelist and journalist Kamel Daoud publishes a pithy, fast-paced critique of Algerian society five times a week in the French-language daily Quotidien d’Oran, and on Facebook. Readers value his insight, his poetry, his well-directed rage.  In 2010 a French reporter, in Oran to… more »

Category: Dispatches

From the Abu Dhabi Book Fair

by M. Lynx Qualey, May 12, 2014

The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (April 30–May 5) has just wrapped up its seventh year. As in the past, the fair was an enormous undertaking, with school field trips, dozens of author events and book signings, cooking demonstrations, book sales, professional seminars, publisher-to-publisher… more »

Category: Dispatches

“Thank You, Gabo”: Translators on García Márquez

by Susan Harris, April 24, 2014

In response to the death of Gabriel García Márquez, some of our translators from Spanish share thoughts on their first encounters with his work. We'll hear from others in the near future. "It was mid February 2001 when I first read Cien años. Like a lot of people, I remember… more »

Category: Dispatches

A place to hang our hats (and shelve our books)

by Karen Phillips, February 5, 2014

It's been one month since we moved into the very first Words without Borders office space. We’re thrilled to be sharing an office with the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) in the historic Archive Building, located in the West Village in New York. The new office is helping us… more »

Category: Dispatches

Reflections: Juan Gelman

by Lisa Rose Bradford, January 17, 2014

Yesterday, just before the first full moon of the year, Argentine poet-in-exile Juan Gelman died; and last night, my head was full of extraordinary images of Juan. First, I remembered 1975, when Eduardo Galeano gave me a copy of Juan’s Obra poética “to see how it would work in… more »

Category: Dispatches

Preface to Life

by Nathalie Handal, January 15, 2014

To Mohsen Emadi There are voices that stop us that open the ground and fold our hearts into tiny squares   You tell me, Juan left us— I need your embrace   I tell you, Amiri left us— who’s the world now?   Our grief hanging on a telephone line Mexico City—Vermont… more »

Category: Dispatches

Writers against Mass Surveillance: An International Grassroots Protest

by Isabel Fargo Cole, January 10, 2014

One month ago today, the anti-surveillance appeal “A Stand for Democracy in the Digital Age” was launched; it has since has been signed by more than 195,000 people on Initiated by a small group of European writers and one American translator, it began with a manifesto signed by… more »

Category: Dispatches

Our Year, in Review

by Susan Harris, December 31, 2013

As 2013 draws to a close, we'd like to thank our writers, translators, and readers for their many contributions in the last twelve months. This year has been one of celebration, as we marked our tenth anniversary, welcomed a new executive director, published our first e-book anthology,… more »

Category: Dispatches

Feminist Pencils (and Pens)

by Elke R. Steiner, November 15, 2013

I’ve just returned from participating in an exciting international exhibition of feminist art: the "Feminist Pencil—2" exhibition at ArtPlay Center in Moscow.  Curated and moderated by artist Victoria Lomasko of Moscow and Serpuchov, known for her book, Forbidden Art,… more »

Category: Dispatches

Celebrating WWB and Drenka Willen: Our Tenth Anniversary Gala

by Susan Harris, October 31, 2013

Tuesday night WWB staff, board, contributors, supporters, and readers gathered at Tribeca 360, where the panoramic view mirrored the sweep of our content, to celebrate our tenth anniversary and present the inaugural James H. Ottaway Jr. Award for the Promotion of International Literature… more »

Category: Dispatches

The 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature: Down to the Wire

by Susan Harris, October 7, 2013

We're down to the wire: the Swedish Academy will announce the Nobel Prize in literature this Thursday at 1:00 pm Stockholm time. This decision breaks with the tradition of holding the literature prize till the week after the others, which could suggest an early consensus (or, more… more »

Category: Dispatches

Spain’s Great Untranslated on Tour

by Susan Harris, September 26, 2013

We're delighted to announce the fall tour for the anthology Spain's Great Untranslated, the print edition of our March 2013 issue. The tour kicks off Monday, September 30, in Miami, then continues to Houston on October 2 and Albuquerque on October 4. In Miami, editor and translator Valerie… more »

Category: Dispatches

WWB Writers at the Brooklyn Book Festival Sunday

by Susan Harris, September 20, 2013

New York readers, we hope you'll spend your Sunday afternoon with the many WWB contributors appearing at the Brooklyn Book Festival. You can kick off at 11:00 with our Andy Tepper leading Alexander Maksik, Juan Gabriel Vásquez , and Oonya Kempadoo  in thoughts on national… more »

Category: Dispatches

The 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature: Our Office Pool

by Susan Harris, September 6, 2013

Between the World Cup and the World Series comes high season for world literature: time to place your bets on this year's candidates for the Nobel Prize in Literature. You can read two of the usual suspects, Adonis and Ko Un, right here, as well as laureates Herta Müller, J. M. G. Le Clézio,… more »

Category: Dispatches

Sławomir Mrożek, 1930–2013

by Susan Harris, August 31, 2013

Poland's great Sławomir Mrożek died August 15 in Nice. Though best known as a dramatist, Mrożek was also a prolific writer of short stories; we were delighted to include his "Ketchup," in Garry Malloy's witty translation, in our January 2012 issue on apocalypse. Mrożek's… more »

Category: Dispatches

“The Infinite Sequence of Minute Decisions”: An Editor at the BCLT Translation Summer School

by Susan Harris, August 9, 2013

I spent a rapt and giddy week last month at the British Center for Literary Translation’s summer school, housed at the lagomorphiliac University of East Anglia in Norwich. (I’d heard that the UEA campus is chockablock with rabbits, but did not anticipate that they would be grazing on the… more »

Category: Dispatches

We’ll Fling Our Books

by Sibel Oral, June 24, 2013

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Sabahattin Ali was a Turkish writer killed a long time ago during a show of "civic" force, and even the consolation of giving him a proper burial was denied his family. In his 1945 short story—later banned—entitled The Glasshouse he says, "Never erect a glasshouse over your head. But if one… more »

Category: Dispatches


by Çiler İlhan, June 19, 2013

I've been sleepless for days. Like countless people. Like countless animals. Like the trees and the birds. We're all dazed by the strange turn of events in Turkey. The children who grew up scared of any uniform, police or military, have now finally reached adulthood, and now protest day and night,… more »

Category: Dispatches

Sweet Days of June, Sweet Days of Uprising

by Inci Aral, June 14, 2013

As I write these words, unarmed protestors in and around Taksim Square are under relentless police attack. Not only in Taksim, either. People throng the streets all over the country: Ankara, Izmir, Tunceli, Hatay, and many, many more cities. People who’ve had it with government oppression. Whose… more »

Category: Dispatches

Magdy El Shafee Arrested and Held at Tora Prison

by Elisabeth Jaquette, April 20, 2013

Magdy El Shafee, author of Egypt’s first graphic novel, Metro, was arrested by security forces on Friday in downtown Cairo. According to fellow author Muhammad Aladdin, El Shafee was detained near Abdel Moneim Riyad Square, where clashes between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and protesters had… more »

Category: Dispatches

“Agents of the Change We Want to See”: Atelier Jeudi Soir

by Chantal Kénol, March 20, 2013

Atelier Jeudi Soir is a group of people from different horizons (educators, managers, professionals, students) who came together on a whim of sorts and developed into a viable institution. It started a little over six years ago, with a writing workshop directed by the renowned Haitian writer Lyonel Trouillot,… more »

Category: Dispatches

An Interview with Zygmunt Miłoszewski

by Richard Jackson, March 19, 2013

Zygmunt Miłoszewski is a Polish novelist, journalist, and editor, currently working as a columnist for Newsweek.  Born in Warsaw in 1976, he is the author of several books across a variety of genres.  His horror novel, The Intercom, was published in 2005, while The Adder Mountains, a book… more »

Category: Dispatches

Tunisia: A Time of Uncertainty

by Cécile Oumhani, March 13, 2013

As we board the plane just before sunrise, a police car pulls up on the tarmac. Hardly have I reached my seat, when I hear a man yelling at the back. He sits handcuffed between two policemen. “Let me be,” he shouts in the intervals of his long mad screams. Who is he? Why is he being transported… more »

Category: Dispatches

The Damage Done

by Thomas Bunstead, December 22, 2012

Basque writer Willy Uribe is now into his twelfth day of a hunger strike in protest against the incarceration of reformed heroin addict David Reboredo. This is the latest in a number of cases demonstrating the Spanish government's perceived double standards when it comes to granting judicial pardons.… more »

Category: Dispatches

It’s Not a Crime: Reading and Analyzing Translated Thrillers

by B.J. Epstein, December 6, 2012

Crime fiction is a popular and pleasurable genre, but it’s also an educational one, especially if you read translated crime fiction. In my role as the schools and libraries liaison for the British Centre for Literary Translation, which is based at the University of East Anglia in England, I give… more »

Category: Dispatches

From the Archives: Chinese Writing, Banned and Otherwise

by Susan Harris, November 29, 2012

Mo Yan's Nobel turned a spotlight on Chinese writers and literature, and the continuing controversy over his selection has prolonged, and intensified, that focus. Our timely current issue of banned writing represents only a fraction of the Chinese work on the site; so if you’ve worked your… more »

Category: Dispatches

A Literary Genre with “Chinese Characteristics”

by Wenguang Huang, November 23, 2012

Embellishing a piece of nonfiction work with elements of fiction is a big no-no in the West.  Writers and publishers are expected to avoid blurring their boundaries.  But it’s a different story in China.  Nonfiction writers follow what they call the “doculiterary” genre,… more »

Category: Dispatches

“Friendship is a religion”

by Geoff Wisner, November 6, 2012

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Tahar Ben Jelloun was born in the city of Fès in 1944. He attended an Arabic-French elementary school, studied French in Tangier until the age of eighteen, then studied philosophy and wrote his first poems at Mohammed V University in Rabat. He is best known for his novels The Sand Child and The… more »

Category: Dispatches

Michael Henry Heim, 1943–2012

by Susan Harris, September 30, 2012

The incomparable Michael Henry Heim died September 29. Translator of scores of books from a dozen languages and professor of Slavic at UCLA for forty years, he did perhaps more than anyone to advance translation in the US. Michael shaped both theory and practice across the field, introducing English-language… more »

Category: Dispatches

The 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature: Round Two

by Susan Harris, September 25, 2012

Resuming our earier conversation, the speculation continues. Britain's suspiciously accurate Ladbrokes (remember, last year they had Tomas Transtromer in the top five) bets on Haruki Murakami at 5:1, followed by Bob Dylan (per an earlier commenter: oh, honestly) at 10:1, Mo Yan and Cees Nooteboom… more »

Category: Dispatches

The 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature: Our Office Pool

by Susan Harris, September 6, 2012

Between the World Cup and the World Series comes high season for world literature: time to place your bets on this year's candidates for the Nobel Prize in Literature. You can read two of the usual suspects, Adonis and Ko Un, right here, as well as laureates Herta Müller, J. M. G. Le Clézio,… more »

Category: Dispatches

The Decline and Fall of a Translator’s Brain

by Jocelyne Allen, July 19, 2012

Just when you think you’ve figured out what is going on in the Toh Enjoe story “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Galactic Empire,” you trip on another oblique reference to some bit of the outside world. It’s a story that bears up to—and in fact, requires—multiple… more »

Category: Dispatches

We Have to Love Brazil: A FLIP Diary

by Kim M. Hastings and Lúcia Bettencourt, July 12, 2012

Day One: Wednesday, July 4 Precisamos adorar o Brasil! We have to love Brazil! Anticipation is running high as FLIP (the Festa Literária Internacional de Paraty, or International Literary Festival of Paraty) kicks off its tenth year this evening. Set in a picturesque colonial village four hours… more »

Category: Dispatches

On “Fish Variations”

by Angus Turvill, July 2, 2012

Fish Variations has a very particular phonetic structure that throws up special challenges for the translator. Here are a few comments on these challenges and how I addressed them. Both original poem and translation have seven verses. The first four verses and the final verse are linked by vowel patterns,… more »

Category: Dispatches

How “To Algeria, with Love” became “La Repubblica di Wally”

by Suzanne Ruta, June 18, 2012

Einaudi bought the Italian rights to my novel before it had an English language publisher, editor, or even a title. Work on the translation began last summer, around the time the book was published in the UK by Virago as To Algeria, with Love. As luck would have it, my husband and I were in southern… more »

Category: Dispatches

Magdy El Shafee Publishes “Metro” in English

by Susan Harris, June 5, 2012

It's Metro Day at WWB. We're celebrating the publication of Magdy El Shafee's graphic novel, available today from Metropolitan Books in Chip Rossetti's translation. Readers will recall that WWB published an extract in February 2008, and that the book was seized on publication in Egypt… more »

Category: Dispatches

Can Literature Bear Witness?

by Katherine Sanders, May 22, 2012

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As part of the PEN World Voices Festival, Herta Müller spent an afternoon at NYU's Deutsches Haus on May 3 to discuss whether it's possible for literature to bear witness. When I arrived at the venue, the main floor was packed, which I expected for a Nobel Prize winner. I did not expect,… more »

Category: Dispatches

The Advanced Language Class as Translation Workshop

by Jason Grunebaum, April 13, 2012

A wonderful, and perhaps underappreciated, way to bring international literature into the classroom is through transforming advanced language classes into translation workshops. While language classes might seem an obvious home for news from afar, some people associate translation in language classes… more »

Category: Dispatches

From the Translator: Working with the Author

by Samantha Schnee, March 30, 2012

Editor's note: Translator Samantha Schnee worked closely with author Carmen Boullosa throughout the translation of the latter's "Sleepless Homeland." The following exchange, with its multiple rounds of drafts, queries, and responses, provides an instructive glimpse of the process. Did we lose… more »

Category: Dispatches

Celebrating World Poetry Day

by Susan Harris, March 21, 2012

Today is World Poetry Day, and in celebration we invite you to explore our rich archives. Start with Ilya Kaminsky's brilliant manifesto on poetry in translation, "Correspondences in the Air," from our Ecco Anthology of International Poetry, and then turn to the nearly six hundred poems we've… more »

Category: Dispatches

Japan, One Year Later

by Susan Harris, March 10, 2012

On March 11, 2011, the Tōhoku region of northeastern Japan was rocked by a violent earthquake and tsunami that triggered an accident at a nuclear power plant. We mark the anniversary with poems by two Japanese writers, both translated by Jeffrey Angles. In "Do Not Tremble," Sayaka… more »

Category: Awards & Prizes

Best Translated Book Award Fiction Longlist Announced

by Susan Harris, March 1, 2012

Three Percent, the resource for international literature based at the University of Rochester, has announced the fiction longlist for the 2012 Best Translated Book Awards. The twenty-five nominees include books by WWB authors David Albahari, Sergio Chejfec, Johan Harstad, Dany Laferrière, Inka… more »

Category: Dispatches

Celebrating International Mother Language Day

by Suzanne Ruta, February 21, 2012

On February 2, 1952, during a peaceful demonstration to demand national status in East Pakistan for the Bengali language, four students were shot dead in the street. A postcolonial trauma that would lead to war and the creation of the nation of Bangladesh. In 1999 the General Conference of UNESCO proclaimed… more »

Category: Dispatches

Festival Neue Literatur This Week in New York

by Susan Bernofsky, February 6, 2012

The Festival Neue Literatur has been around since 2010.  This festival of new writing from the German-speaking countries (Austria, Germany, and Switzerland) is put on in New York every year, in February, by a consortium of cultural institutes.  It takes place over a long weekend and consists… more »

Category: Dispatches

Homeless Rats: A Parable for Postrevolution Libya

by Ethan Chorin, January 9, 2012

Libyan writer and diplomat Ahmed Ibrahim Fagih’s Homeless Rats is a quasi-fantastic historical novel that offers considerable insight into Libyan culture and geography, in particular that of the Western Jebel Nafusa, which played a key role in Gaddafi’s ouster. The plot revolves around… more »

Category: Dispatches

MuXin, 1927–2011

by Susan Harris, December 23, 2011

Chinese writer and painter MuXin died December 21. MuXin was born in 1927 in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province, to an wealthy, aristocratic family. Like most intellectuals in the late 1940s, he rallied around Mao Zedong’s vision for a new China, but he quickly became disillusioned. Between the Communist… more »

Category: Dispatches

On North Korea: Leaders Great and Dear, and Literature

by Susan Harris, December 20, 2011

The opacity that his obituaries attribute to Kim Jong-il extends to North Korean literary culture. WWB has published a fair amount of writing from the country, starting with our second issue in September 2003, Writing from North Korea, and continuing with our anthology Literature from the "Axis of Evil":… more »

Category: Dispatches

The Black Hat: On Self-Translation and Freedom

by Olafur Gunnarsson, October 13, 2011

There is a lively interest in literature in Iceland, although the foreigner tends to see this in a somewhat romantic light.  Although there are Viking festivals each summer and the foreigner might be under the impression that most Icelanders are widely read in the sagas, this is far from true. Most… more »

Category: Dispatches

The 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature: It’s Tomas Tranströmer

by Susan Harris, October 6, 2011

The Nobel Prize in Literature goes to Sweden's great Tomas Tranströmer. The Swedish Academy said it recognized the eighty-year-old poet "because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality." From his "Prelude," translated for us by Rika Lesser: In the first… more »

Category: Dispatches

The 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature: Countdown!

by Susan Harris, October 3, 2011

News flash: The usually coy Swedish Academy has announced that the Nobel will be awarded Thursday. In the home stretch, Ladbrokes keeps Adonis and Tranströmer to win and place, while Murakami moves into show; Unibet has Murakami leading, with Adonis passing Vijay dan Detha into second and Les Murray… more »

Category: Dispatches

After the Revolution: Tunisia, September

by Cécile Oumhani, September 30, 2011

The improbable woman was dressed in black Her diverse shadow and her hallucinations were there only to redefine the furtive with appropriate optimism, I could not elude her —Slaheddine Haddad,"A carters’ tea" September still feels like summer in Tunisia, even more so after a revolution. The… more »

Category: Dispatches

The 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature: Round Two

by Susan Harris, September 29, 2011

Resuming last week's conversation, the speculation continues. Britain's suspiciously accurate Ladbrokes bets on Adonis at 4:1, followed by Tomas Transtromer at 9:2 and Peter Nadas at 10:1. Thomas Pynchon and Assia Dejebar are at 12:1, with Ko Un in sixth position at 14:1.  Any number of… more »

Category: Dispatches

The 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature: Our Office Pool

by Susan Harris, September 16, 2011

Between the World Cup and the World Series comes high season for world literature: time to place your bets on this year's candidates for the Nobel Prize in Literature. You can read two of the usual suspects, Adonis and Ko Un, right here, as well as laureates Herta Müller, J. M. G. Le Clézio,… more »

Category: Dispatches

A Berlin Diary, in Memory of September 11

by Susan Bernofsky, September 11, 2011

I spent the academic year 2001–2 in Berlin.  This was a year bracketed by tragedies that took place in my absence—one huge and life-changing for millions of people, one small and life-changing for just a few.  The year began with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and… more »

Category: Dispatches

Layers of Dust and Debris

by Cécile Oumhani, September 9, 2011

Another year and its layers of dust and debris. Ten years gone by and the pictures, the words still as sharp and vivid. Glass you dare not touch with your fingers. It all happened across the Atlantic, very far away. The horror reverberating around the planet in a matter of minutes. It has never stopped… more »

Category: Dispatches

“I Still Belong to My Country”: An Interview with Ali Al Jallawi

by Ayesha Saldanha, September 8, 2011

Poet Ali Al Jallawi fled Bahrain in April of this year, one of many political activists, journalists, and writers who left the country rather than risk arrest during a crackdown against pro-democracy protests. In the 1990s Al Jallawi had been imprisoned twice, and tortured, as described in his memoir… more »

Category: Dispatches

The Graffiti of Benghazi

by Ethan Chorin, August 17, 2011

Six months after the February uprising, there are several major differences in the physical appearance of Benghazi, Libya’s rebel capital. The city is unmistakably cleaner, the result of a few pre-uprising civic works (including the cleaning of Benghazi’s putrid central lake) as well as the… more »

Category: Dispatches

PEN Translation Prizes Announced

by Susan Harris, August 11, 2011

PEN has just announced its literary awards for 2011. The award for poetry in translation went to Khaled Mattawa for Adonis: Selected Poems by Adonis (Yale University Press, The Margellos World Republic of Letters Series), and for prose to Ibrahim Muhawi for Journal of an Ordinary Grief by Mahmoud Darwish… more »

Category: Dispatches

Najati Tayyara, Still Imprisoned

by Faraj Bayraqdar, August 8, 2011

On May 11, 2011, Al Jazeera conducted a phone interview with my friend the writer and Syrian rights activist Najati Tayyara.  In that interview, my friend spoke with complete candor about the brutal, bloody practices of the Syrian regime’s apparatuses against peaceful protestors demanding… more »

Category: Dispatches

Mistral, One Hundred Years Ago

by Suzanne Ruta, August 4, 2011

Image of Mistral, One Hundred Years Ago
My father-in-law, Walther Franke-Ruta, was born in 1890 in Leipzig, Germany, into a family of furriers and musicians. He became a poet, a prolific novelist, and a popular radio playwright and social satirist, although the satire, first to last, was  gentle, without acid or bitterness, as if the… more »

Category: Dispatches

How Long It Is, This Arab Spring

by Susan Harris, July 27, 2011

It's now seven months since Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire and ignited the Arab Spring. As we wrap up the first of two issues of writing from the uprisings, it's instructive to look back at Dispatches filed as events were unfolding. At the end of January, Chip Rossetti considered the "rumbling… more »

Category: Dispatches

NEA Translation Awards Announced

by Susan Harris, July 22, 2011

The NEA has announced this year's fellowships for translation projects, and we're very happy to see so many WWB translators among the recipients. Congratulations to Eric Abrahamsen,  Ross Benjamin (you can read an extract from his project here), Peter Constantine, Kristin Dykstra, Michelle… more »

Category: Dispatches

Rise and Fall of an Algerian Warlord

by Kamel Daoud, July 18, 2011

Translator's note: Kamel Daoud's novel O Pharaon (Editions Dar el Gharb, Oran, 2004) describes the rise and fall of a warlord in one unhappy town in Western Algeria during the 1990s civil war. Read from today’s perspective, the novel offers a microcosm of events in the rebelling countries… more »

Category: Dispatches

Flipping Out

by Kim M. Hastings, July 12, 2011

Oswald de Andrade would have loved FLIP. So confirmed Antonio Candido, Brazil’s most revered literary critic, in his opening talk at the ninth annual International Literary Festival in Parati, more widely known by its playful Portuguese acronym (from Festa Literária Internacional de Parati),… more »

Category: Dispatches

Singing Lands of Freedom

by Cécile Oumhani, July 7, 2011

Echchaâb yurid isqât ennidhâm!  The people want the fall of the regime! Each word rhythmically chanted by the crowd. A slogan ringing in Tunis in January, now resounding in cities all over Syria, as protesters bravely face snipers and security forces every day, every evening. Echchaâb… more »

Category: Dispatches

An Algerian Self-Immolates, the Desert Spreads

by Kamel Daoud, July 6, 2011

He sells fruit and vegetables from a pushcart. The heat is intense and so is the poverty. A cop ambles over and gives him a shove. The vegetable vendor is humiliated. He goes off and comes back with a can of gasoline, and sets himself afire. They take him to the hospital, where he dies. Sounds like the… more »

Category: Dispatches

LGBT Korea on Film: Anonymity and Representation

by Sora Kim Russell, June 20, 2011

In recent years, gay male characters have been featured in South Korean television and cinema—and even in a commercial or two. Movies like The King and The Clown and A Frozen Flower and the television shows Coffee Prince and Life is Beautiful have proven popular with audiences, even as the social… more »

Category: Dispatches

Moacyr Scliar, 1939–2011

by Thomas O. Beebee, June 16, 2011

On 27 February 2011, the Brazilian Academy of Letters lost one of its most internationally renowned and widely translated members, Moacyr Scliar. Whatever the vagaries of literary fashion to come, Scliar’s place in the annals of Brazilian history seems assured, as the first author to give Jews… more »

Category: Dispatches

The Bolaño Guide to WWB

by Susan Harris, June 14, 2011

If you're compiling a reading list from Roberto Bolaño's Between Parentheses, you can find many of his recommended authors right here at WWB. Looking for "the best woman writer in Mexico"? That would be Carmen Boullosa. Is César Aira "mainly just boring," or "one of the three or… more »

Category: Dispatches

Eduardo Halfon Awarded Guggenheim

by Susan Harris, June 10, 2011

We're delighted to report that Eduardo Halfon has been awarded a Guggenheim Latin American and Caribbean Fellowship. In "The Polish Boxer," from our July 2009 Memory and Lies issue, Halfon gives voice to his grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, whose revision of the past has enabled him to live into… more »

Category: Dispatches

Teachers’ Pets, and Fools for Love

by Susan Harris, June 9, 2011

Marco Di Marco's "Moving Like Geckos" has a fraternal twin in last year's queer issue. Polish writer Eva Schilling's  "Fool"  also features a teacher-student pairing; in this case, though, the characters are female, and the classroom is not in an urban university, but in a provincial… more »

Category: Dispatches

“Help Us Be Good Again”: Literacy in Afghanistan

by Duncan Fitz, May 16, 2011

The day Osama Bin Laden was killed, I was extolling the benefits of education in western Afghanistan. It was the first week of school for the Dari and Pashto adult literacy program that I managed and, like any good principal, I was making the rounds.  I walked into a classroom packed with students.   … more »

Category: Dispatches

From the Publisher: Publishing in Malta

by Chris Gruppetta, May 9, 2011

Everyone has an opinion about publishing. Who we should publish. What we should publish. How we should publish it. One practically pines for the good ol’ days of the publishers’ gentlemen’s club, where the grand elders decided the fate of authors, and forged the taste of readers, in… more »

Category: Dispatches

Best Translated Book Awards Go to Aleš Šteger/Brian Henry, Tove Jansson/Thomas Teal

by Susan Harris, May 2, 2011

The winning titles and translators for this year’s Best Translated Book Awards were announced Friday evening at the Bowery Poetry Club as part of the PEN World Voices Festival. BTBA co-founder Chad Post kicked off the event, then turned over the microphone to Lorin Stein, who announced the winners… more »

Category: Dispatches

Ernesto Sábato, 1911–2011

by Susan Harris, May 1, 2011

Argentine writer and human rights hero Ernesto Sábato has died at the age of ninety-nine. Sábato was the author of The Tunnel (1948), On Heroes and Tombs (1961), and The Angel of Darkness (1974), and winner of the most prestigious Hispanic literary awards, when in 1983 he was appointed… more »

Category: Dispatches

Of Books and Roses: Sant Jordi’s Day in Catalunya

by Martha Tennent and Maruxa Relaño Tennent, April 25, 2011

The bustling, cosmopolitan port city of Barcelona, favored by travelers the world over for its Mediterranean climate, innovative architecture, and avant-garde cuisine, also happens to be the publishing capital for the Spanish-speaking world of some 500 million people. It is home to the big players in… more »

Category: Dispatches

New MLA Guidelines on Evaluating Translations

by Susan Harris, April 20, 2011

The Modern Language Association has posted new guidelines for evaluating translations as scholarship for tenure review.  Building on previous publications by ALTA and PEN, and drawing on the report of the academic working group at the Salzburg Global Seminar 461, the document offers guidelines for… more »

Category: Dispatches

From Saigon to Quebec: Kim Thuy

by Susan Harris, April 6, 2011

Kim Thuy was born into privilege in Saigon in 1968 and fled ten years later with her family. After a harrowing crossing in the hold of a fishing boat and a miserable stay in a Malaysian refugee camp, the family settled in Quebec. Thuy's Ru, from our May 2010 issue, recounts these experiences in poetic,… more »

Category: Dispatches

Baseball Springs Eternal

by Shizuka Ijuin, March 31, 2011

It was afternoon on Friday, March 11, 2011.  I was in the office at my home in Sendai, working on a manuscript I had just started.  Spring is the season of new beginnings.  In Japan, graduation ceremonies in March are followed by matriculation ceremonies in April.  For students it… more »

Category: Dispatches

The Writer and the Screenwriter: An Interview with Domenico Starnone

by Susan Harris, March 22, 2011

Domenico Starnone has written for film both directly and indirectly: he has over a dozen screenplays to his credit, and has had one of his novels, Denti, turned into a film. This interview was conducted on e-mail. The questions were translated into Italian by Marco Candida, and Starnone's responses… more »

Category: Dispatches

The Romance of Diva

by Geoff Wisner, March 14, 2011

Image of The Romance of Diva
The first time I saw Diva, I was about the same age as Jules, the French mailman, opera enthusiast, and thief who is its hero. Most likely I saw it at the intimate and old-fashioned Brattle Theater in Harvard Square, one of the places I miss most about Cambridge. Diva is a highly romantic movie, steeped… more »

Category: Dispatches

The Battle of Algiers

by Suzanne Ruta, March 11, 2011

Saadi Yacef headed the Algerian rebel movement, the Front de Libération Nationale, in Algiers until his capture in summer 1957. Unlike his fellow combatants in the movement, murdered in captivity by the French military or blown up by French explosives in their Casbah hideouts or strangled by their… more »

Category: Dispatches

“Hitchcock and Agha Baji”: The MacGuffin in Iran

by Susan Harris, March 8, 2011

Behnam Dayani's

Category: Book-to-Film

À Tout de Suite, written and directed by Benoît Jacquot

by Emma Garman, March 7, 2011

Image of À Tout de Suite, written and directed by Benoît Jacquot
In honor of the new Movies Issue, we’re writing about our favorite foreign films; my choice: À Tout de Suite (2005), written and directed by Benoît Jacquot. Conceptually, À Tout de Suite (“Right Now”), based on a memoir by Elisabeth Fanger, sounds almost willfully… more »

Category: Dispatches

From the Translator: Agnes Scott Langeland on Kjell Askildsen’s “Dogs of Thessaloniki”

by Agnes Scott Langeland, February 25, 2011

My first encounter with Kjell Askildsen’s marvelous short stories was in 1995, in an anthology called Et stort øde landskap (A Wide Empty Landscape), published by Oktober in 1991.  Their effect on me was searing. The simple, low-key language had unexpected force, making it almost painful… more »

Category: Dispatches

Questions for Peter Bush and Teresa Solana

by Susan Harris, February 23, 2011

Peter Bush has been translating the fiction of Teresa Solana since 2005, producing sparkling English versions of many of her stories and two of her comic noirs, A Shortcut to Paradise and A Not So Perfect Crime.  Here the couple, both former directors of national translation centers, talk about… more »

Category: Dispatches

A Interview with Kim Thompson of Fantagraphics Books

by Dot Lin, February 22, 2011

Mass media may often associate comics with blockbuster-movie superheroes and kids’ cartoons, but as evidenced by the diverse works from comics and graphic novel publisher Fantagraphics Books, this visual medium wields the power to make hard-hitting political and social commentary or explore the… more »

Category: Dispatches

Chihoi in Action

by Edward Gauvin, February 21, 2011

Kaleidoscope, a marvelous, eye-widening exhibition on the history of Hong Kong comics, is a ten-minute walk down to the river from the center of town. The exhibit is composed of individual units that are practical, durable, and ingeniously designed, like high-end luggage: black, on casters, all the edges… more »