Archives

February, 2010

God’s Bits of Wood

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Though better known in his later years as a film director, Sembène Ousmane (1923-2007) staked an early claim as one of Africa’s finest novelists. God’s Bits of Wood, first published in 1960 and translated from the French by Francis Price, is not only one of the best novels to have…...

Roberto Bolaño, Bounty Hunter

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Bolaño’s preliminary note to Monsieur Pain, a short novel was first published in 1999 and appeared last month from New Directions, alludes to the author’s early desperation and tenacity.  He wrote the book in the early ’80s, and it was awarded a prize by the Toledo City…...

A New Venture

And Other Stories is a fledgling independent publisher of fiction in translation with a new, community-based approach. Editorial selection decisions will emerge from a consensus of readers, writers, and translators. Stefan Tobler and Jamie Searle are developing two reading forums at LibraryThing. The…...

The Family, in Ballpoint Ink: Blutch’s “That Was Happiness”

As Christian Hincker (a.k.a. Blutch) says in the video accompanying his contribution to the February Graphic Lit edition of Words Without Borders, an excerpt from the graphic novel That Was Happiness translated by Edward Gauvin, there are no ornaments in his work. The rough ballpoint-sketched characters…...

A poem from Madagascar

Around Valentine's Day, the go-to book for romantic African literature in translation has to be Bending the Bow: An Anthology of African Love Poetry. One of its many gems is this poem by Flavien Ranaivo of Madagascar, first published in The Negritude Poets: An Anthology of Translations from the French…...

film icon $9.99, A Film Based on the Short Stories of Etgar Keret

I taught my son a simple rule when he, at the age of four or so, began to see the barrage of books that are part of the marketing effort behind movies. If the book came out first, the book is better, if the movie came out first, the movie is better. These are tough waters to navigate with a kid and of…...

What Does the Future Hold for Books in Translation?

A friend invited me to go a panel with the title “What Does the Future Hold for Books in Translation?” at Melville House in Brooklyn. I had never been to Melville House. To be honest, I wasn’t aware of the existence of a publishing house called Melville House, which says much about…...

film icon Every Unhappy Family Is Funny in Its Own Way

As a lagniappe, we’re complementing our extract from Blutch’s That Was Happiness—in which a divorcing couple has The Talk with their young son—with a brief video of the artist discussing his book. With a plangent sax in the background, Blutch acknowledges the autobiographical…...

Algerian White

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Assia Djebar is a fiction writer, filmmaker, professor -- currently at NYU -- and a regular contender for the Nobel Prize in literature. She is known in the US for her novel So Vast the Prison and the story collection Women of Algiers in Their Apartment. Another collection, published in French as Oran,…...

Fear of Kubin is the End of Wisdom

Wolfgang Kubin, Bonn University Professor of Chinese Studies, is a critic in every sense of the word. Every time he speaks about Chinese literature, he makes waves among observers. He has become famous for “trashing” Chinese literature in general, Chinese novels in particular, and even more…...

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