Archives

April, 2010

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…...

film icon On Yuri Rytkheu’s “Magic Numbers”

Yuri Rytkheu (1930-2008) is generally considered to be the most significant Russian author of the twentieth century with an indigenous heritage. He came from the Chukchi tribe of Siberia, and his works mostly deal with the unique ecological and cultural wisdom of these Arctic people and how their identity…...

AWP Report: Trends in South Asian Diaspora Writing

I was at the AWP conference in Denver this past weekend to give a reading and sign some chapbooks. The mood was cheery, the elevation high, the Colorado Rocky mountains (which I had never seen in person before) were glorious and the background chatter pleasant. I thought what would be a better panel…...

“Purge” by Sofi Oksanen

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Aliide Truu, the warped murderess and tragic victim at the center of Sofi Oksansen’s astoundingly ambitious novel Purge, is an elderly woman when we meet her in the opening chapter. Living alone in the Estonian countryside in 1992, she has recently witnessed her nation’s liberation from Soviet…...

Fanfare for Farm 54

A number of books have been bought for English-language publication as a result of extracts we've published, and we've just learned of another. We're delighted to report that English-language rights for Galit Seliktar and Gilad Seliktar's Farm 54, part of which ran in our February 2010…...

Ben Okri at PEN World Voices

Image of Ben Okri at PEN World Voices
African authors are few and far between at this year's PEN World Voices Festival -- but the festival does offer a rare opportunity to hear Ben Okri, the Nigerian-born author of The Famished Road, which won the Booker Prize in 1991. Years ago I had the chance to hear Okri at MIT. He was a captivating…...

News from the Paris Book Fair

The Paris Book Fair (March 26-31, 2010) celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year. The organizers invited 90 writers for the occasion, (60 of them from France and 30 from all over the world) to discuss the topic "Telling the World." Among the discussions were "Writers Exploring an Unknown Land"…...

March, 2010

The Rising of the Ashes

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Better known as the author of novels such as The Sand Child and Leaving Tangier, and of nonfiction such as Islam Explained, the Moroccan-born author Tahar Ben Jelloun is also a poet. The Rising of the Ashes, published this month by City Lights Books, was written in French and appeared in 1991 in a bilingual…...

film icon Why Words without Borders?

Many thanks to all the wonderful people who stopped to talk with us in Washington Square Park, to Caputo's Deli, and especially to Garth Paul Cox and Robin Randisi for filming and editing.

A poem from a very small place

São Tomé and Príncipe is the smallest country in Africa. It consists of two islands off the coast of Gabon, with an area of 371 square miles and a total population of about 150,000. Like Cape Verde, São Tomé had no permanent inhabitants before it was colonized by the…...

On Poetry in Translation

The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry has been out for a couple of weeks now, and as we await the critical response, I think of the most satisfying poetry review I read last year: Jon Stallworthy, writing in the TLS of December 4, 2009, on Clare Cavanagh's translation of Adam Zagajewski's…...

Some of the Things We’re Excited About For the Upcoming PEN World Voices Festival #PWVFEST

Image of Some of the Things We’re Excited About For the Upcoming PEN World Voices Festival #PWVFEST
We are as always excited about the upcoming PEN World Voices Festival, to be held this year from Monday, April 26th, to Sunday May 2nd. Notably this year the festival will travel to six other cities around the United States. Sure to be an important discussion, the festival will begin with Lorraine Adams,…...

The Translator as Overachiever: Alison Anderson at 111 Minna

Just prior to attending Alison Anderson’s talk through the Center for the Art of Translation, my friend and I were discussing the complexities of translation and the difficulties that translators face. My friend, a budding translator herself, does not, as a rule, purchase books in translation by…...

Jazra Khaleed’s 9mm Words

Our March 2010 issue, Correspondences in the Air: International Poetry, features a diverse selection of poets, and contains work that complement the recent Ecco Anthology of International Poetry, edited by WWB editors Ilya Kaminsky and Susan Harris. The title comes from Kaminsky's introduction to…...

Interview with Laura Healy, translator of Roberto Bolaño’s “The Romantic Dogs”

This interview with Laura Healy, translator of Roberto Bolaño's poetry, is part of our month long look at international poetry and celebration of the release of The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry by the editors of Words Without Borders. This interview was a collaboration…...

Ilya on Poetry in Poetry

The March issue of Poetry includes Adam Kirsch's thrilling interview with Ilya Kaminsky about our Ecco Anthology of International Poetry.  With the erudite brilliance that characterizes his introduction, Ilya notes the French source of a Yeats poem popular in China, cites Seamus Heaney's…...

Zbigniew Herbert: An Introduction

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This article originally ran on January 7th, 2008 as part of a forum on Herbert's work. We republish it here as part of our month long look at International poetry and to celebrate the release of The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry by the editors of Words Without Borders. As the moderators…...

film icon Poeboes Podcast with Fiona Sampson

  Fiona Sampson (1968 - ) has published five collections of poetry, including, most recently, Common Prayer (2007), short-listed for the T.S. Eliot Prize. Editor of Poetry Reviews ince 2005, Sampson is also an accomplished musician, translator and academic. She won the Newdigate…...

For Bread Alone

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I first read Mohamed Choukri’s memoir For Bread Alone when I was working on A Basket of Leaves. I considered using it as one of the books I discussed for Morocco, but before I had read very far I stopped considering it. Recently I thought I would take another look at For Bread Alone and think about…...

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

Image of Roberto Bolaño, Bounty Hunter
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…...

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