Archives

June, 2010

Andrei Voznesensky, 1933–2010

The Russian poet Andrei Voznesensky has died at seventy-seven. Here are the first and last stanzas from his “Darkmotherscream,” translated by Robert Bly and Vera Dunham, in The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry:   Darkmotherscream is a Siberian dance, cry from prison or a yell for…...

May, 2010

BookExpo in Brief: Reading Lit in Translation is “Groovy Again”

The mood at the BookExpo America conference this year was decidedly upbeat and busy. The shortened, mid-week schedule seemed to work better than anticipated by exhibitors*, reports of good sales numbers weren't hard to find, and conference rooms were packed to the point of being fire hazards. At…...

Treasure Island, Genesis, and The Blue Lagoon: on Le Clézio’s The Prospector

Image of Treasure Island, Genesis, and The Blue Lagoon: on Le Clézio’s The Prospector
Alfred Kazin once said of Hemingway that he “brought a major art to a minor vision of life.” To judge from the novel The Prospector, the same could be said of its author, the 2008 Nobel laureate J.M.G Le Clézio. The beauty of Le Clézio’s language is undeniable. His novel,…...

Prieto, Mandelstam, Allen, and Correspondences in the Air

The June 10 issue of the New York Review of Books includes Jose Manuel Prieto's fascinating "Reading Mandelstam on Stalin," translated by the impeccable Esther Allen. Prieto describes struggling to translate Mandelstam's defiant "Epigram on Stalin"—that famous "death sentence in sixteen…...

Forest of a Thousand Daemons

Image of Forest of a Thousand Daemons
Forest of a Thousand Daemons was written in 1938 in response to a literary contest sponsored by the Nigerian ministry of education. It is considered the first novel to be written in Yoruba and one of the first to be written in any of Africa's indigenous languages. The book begins with a simple frame…...

The 2010 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize: A Reading at Foyles

The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize has introduced readers to the best of foreign contemporary fiction since it was founded in 1991, attracting more press interest every year. It acknowledges both the novelist and the translator equally, recognising the importance of the translator in bridging the…...

Ilya Kaminsky, Reading

Last night the Poetry Foundation held its annual Pegasus Award ceremony at the Arts Club of Chicago, and our Ilya Kaminsky blew the roof right off. Speaking in his capacity as a former recipient of a Ruth Lilly fellowship, Ilya told the audience that when he got the news, he was living with his wife…...

No Nightmares in English: New European Fiction

On what now feels like a long-lost spring afternoon, in these chilly weeks following the PEN World Voices festival, Aleksandar Hemon and Colum McCann speculated on the value of the genre tag "European Fiction" for both American and European markets.  Hemon, who edits the Best European Fiction series,…...

The Apex Book of World SF

Image of The Apex Book of World SF
The December issue of Words Without Borders was devoted to International Science Fiction. One sign of the vitality of the genre is The Apex Book of World SF, a new anthology edited by Lavie Tidhar, the author of a collection of linked stories called HebrewPunk. The Apex Book includes stories from twelve…...

Interview with Alina Bronsky, author of “Broken Glass Park”

Image of Interview with Alina Bronsky, author of “Broken Glass Park”
Alina Bronsky, a German writer of Russian origin, immigrated to Germany when she was thirteen, and published her first novel, Broken Glass Park, in 2008 when she was only thirty years old. The novel was very well received by both the public and the critics and was nominated for the Bachmann Prize, one…...

film icon Poeboes Podcast with Samuel Shimon

Samuel Shimon (1956 - ) is an Assyrian writer, filmmaker, editor and anthologist. Born in Al-Habbaniyah, Iraq, he left his country in 1979. Over the years, he has lived in Damascus, Amman, Beirut, Nicosia, Aden, Cairo, Tunis, and Paris, and finally London, where he currently resides. He is the assistant…...

Foreign Policy Debuts Translation Feature

Foreign Policy debuts a feature, "Overcoming the Language Barrier," presenting brief extracts from fiction and nonfiction in translation from Afrikaans, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Mandarin, and Vietnamese.

film icon Discovering “The Black Minutes” at the PEN World Voices Festival

I went to see the NBCC's* "This Critical Moment" panel for the single reason that last year I hadn't and missed Rigoberto González's discussion of Álvaro Enrigue (whose work we've published). I felt what he had to say about Enrigue was important and well thought out, the sort…...

Ben Okri and Anderson Tepper at the PEN World Voices Festival

Image of Ben Okri and Anderson Tepper at the PEN World Voices Festival
Don’t say I didn’t warn you. If you missed Ben Okri’s appearance on Sunday, you may have a long wait before another one comes along. Okri doesn’t like to fly — “I go by train, by boat, or I swim” — and he has not been in New York for many years. Worse…...

Toni Morrison and Marlene van Niekerk at the PEN World Voices Festival

Image of Toni Morrison and Marlene van Niekerk at the PEN World Voices Festival
Marlene van Niekerk is one of the most prominent Afrikaans-language writers, the author of (among other books) two big and ambitious novels: Triomf and Agaat. Toni Morrison’s enthusiasm for Agaat appeared to be the reason for this event, in which the Nobel Prize winner did her best to keep the…...

PEN World Voices: Atiq Rahimi in Conversation with Lila Azam Zanganeh

Afghan author Atiq Rahimi’s Prix Goncourt-winning and internationally acclaimed novel, The Patience Stone—an excerpt of which he read during the festival’s opening night extravaganza—is his fourth book, but the first that he wrote in French, rather than in his Persian mother tongue.…...

Patti Smith and Jonathan Lethem at the PEN World Voices Festival

Image of Patti Smith and Jonathan Lethem at the PEN World Voices Festival
I was lucky enough to be in the middle of reading Patti Smith's memoir Just Kids when I went to hear her in conversation with Jonathan Lethem. The book centers around her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, whom she met almost as soon as she arrived in New York City at the age of twenty, and it…...

film icon Resonances: Contemporary Writers on the Classics at PEN World Voices Festival

My goal each day of the PEN World Voices Festival is to find one writer or one book I've never heard of that sparks my interest. What more could one ask for? Thursday's find was Marcel Möring whose novel, In a Dark Wood, owes its conception to Dante's Inferno. I found Möring at…...

PEN World Voices: David Almond and Sofi Oksanen in Conversation with Rakesh Satyal

“The act of writing is an act of exploration, an act of discovery…and that’s what growing up is,” mused British children's author David Almond on Friday, when he appeared with Finnish-Estonian novelist Sofi Oksanen at CUNY’s Elebash Recital Hall. During the hour-long…...

April, 2010

I Come From There: New Plays from the Arab World at PEN World Voices Festival

At the Martin E. Segal Theatre at the CUNY Graduate Center yesterday afternoon, readings of two works by young playwrights—presented by the British Council and London’s Royal Court Theatre, with support from the Sundance Institute Theater Program—explored notions of home. In Withdrawal…...

The Ears of the Hippopotamus

Astrid Lindgren is perhaps best known for Pippi Longstocking, her children’s classic, but she created many other fine characters, too, including “The Brothers Lionheart.” One of the feature characters in that adventure is a dragon named Katla, whom Lindgren named after a certain Icelandic…...

Wolff Prize to Ross Benjamin

We're delighted to report that Ross Benjamin has been awarded the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translation Prize for his translation of Michael Maar’s Speak, Nabokov, published by Verso. From the announcement: "The jury finds that this remarkably musical translation reads beautifully, and brings to…...

Interview with Etgar Keret

Image of Interview with Etgar Keret
The interview was conducted at the AWP Annual Conference on Saturday, April 10, 2010 in Denver, where Keret was one of the main featured presenters. On Friday night, April 9, Keret read together with George Saunders in front of an audience of about 1,500 people. On Saturday night, the Denver Starz Film…...

Shohreh Aghdashloo reads from The Ecco Anthology of Int’l Poetry

Image of Shohreh Aghdashloo reads from The Ecco Anthology of Int’l Poetry
On April 19, supporters of Words Without Borders had the rare opportunity to hear the Iranian actor Shohreh Aghdashloo read a selection of poems from the new Ecco Anthology of International Poetry. The event was held in the book-lined Reading Room of the Center for Fiction on 47th Street. Aghdashloo,…...

Musings of a Terminal Speaker

The death of a language is rarely sudden: it is usually an unremarkable process of decline as a community gradually changes its linguistic allegiance, dropping an ancient mother-tongue for a stronger and more relevant language.  Why insist on speaking words that are understood in only a few villages…...

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