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December, 2009

Today in International Lit

Yesterday on the New Yorker's Book Bench, Elizabeth Clark Wessel served up a condensed version of the Quarterly Conversation's "Translate this Book", an incredible feature published earlier this month. As Wessel wrote, the list of recommended books from translators, writers, editors, and publishers…...

Madmen and Exiles

I was late to the Madmen, Exiles, and Savage Detectives: Latin American Poetry panel at the Philoctetes Center this Tuesday. I was late because I was puttering around the fourth floor poetry section at the Barnes and Noble in Union Square here in New York City. Among the shelves, out of place, was a…...

film iconBinhad Nurrohmat at Manggarai

This film was shot at Manggarai train station in central Jakarta. Ujang, the person who reads Binhad Nurrohmat’s poem (“The People on the KRL”) works on the train line which runs from northern Jakarta (Kota) to its final station in the south, Bogor. Ujan sells crackers on the train,…...

Dispatches: Fault Lines by Meena Alexander

I covered a few events at this year's PEN World Voices festival, and when I arrived at a storytelling event sponsored by The Moth I was lucky enough to be seated next to the poet and author Meena Alexander. She was among those blogging about the event for PEN itself. We talked about an extensive…...

European Lit Fest

Last month, a crumbling castle in the depths of the Styrian countryside became the unlikely meeting place for a motley group of writers, musicians and academics at an event organised by the European literature portal Readme.cc. The celebrated British poet Lavinia Greenlaw joined fellow writers from Germany,…...

Today in International Lit

NPR Acknowledges Foreign Fiction with Year-End List With the season of best-of lists upon us, it's refreshing to see NPR publish its first list of Best Foreign Fiction. Writer Jessa Crispin, founding editor of Bookslut, takes a cosmopolitan approach to the five novels, with the claim that "sampling…...

Literature as Social Experiment

A literary magazine in Romania published my nonfiction story about a group of American men who traveled to Ukraine in the hopes of finding a bride, or sex, or a combination of both. The tour was organized by a marriage agency in Arizona. Exactly one year ago, I embarked on this tour with them, disguised…...

Dispatches: Mission to Kala by Mongo Beti

I wrote about Mission to Kala by Mongo Beti for my book A Basket of Leaves. I've been surprised to see that that review has become one of the most visited pages on my site. The novel, translated from French by Peter Green and published by Heinemann in 1957, is not exactly well-known. But I can understand…...

film iconPoeboes Podcast: Michael Schmidt

In the latest installment of his Poeboes Podcast series for WWB, André Naffis speaks to poet, critic, novelist, and publisher Michael Schmidt. Michael Schmidt, O.B.E., FRSL, (1947 - ) poet, critic, novelist and publisher, is also a Professor of Poetry at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.…...

November, 2009

Dispatches: Shadows of Your Black Memory

Shadows of Your Black Memory is a rarity -- a novel from the tiny West African nation of Equatorial Guinea. Of Africa’s three Guineas -- Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and Equatorial Guinea -- Equatorial Guinea is the smallest at 28,000 square kilometers, about the size of Massachusetts. It is also the…...

The Salon du Livre de Montréal

Bonjour from the Salon du Livre de Montréal Salon. Katie Mace of Europa, Lorin Stein of FSG, and I are here on an editors trip courtesy of the Délégation générale du Québec in New York; the Société de Développement des Industries Culturelles…...

Dispatches: Breyten Breytenbach

The South African poet Breyten Breytenbach has been a regular participant in PEN World Voices events, but although I had seen him on panels I had never had the chance to hear him read and discuss his work on his own. Earlier this month Idlewild Books invited Breytenbach to read and discuss his work,…...

From the Magazine

The process of translation is a key element of Turkish-German author Feridun Ziamoglu’s Koppstoff: Kanaka Sprak vom Rande der Gesellschaft (The Knowledge Holder Doesn't Choke on Cleverness), a fictional text of 26 women’s voices, all of Turkish descent and living in Germany. Though composed…...

Today in International Lit

Nabokov Screaming his Head Off The new online newspaper The Faster Times was linked by the New Yorker yesterday for their take on the new Nabokov publication, the unfinished novel The Origin of Laura. They also link to the 92nd Street Y's recording of Nabokov reading selections from Pale Fire and…...

Triptych Reading Series

If you are in New York City, you must, you absolutely must, attend the Triptych Reading Series. Curated by Iranian-born translator and poet Kaveh Bassiri and poet Mary Austin Speaker, the reading series brings everyone from Mark Strand to Charles Wright (this week), and next month will feature John Ashbery.…...

From the Magazine

“My bag in the back of the truck, the Antarctica bottles open, and we’re off.” So begins our excerpt of Ross Benjamin’s translation of Thomas Pletzinger’s novel Bestattung eines Hundes (2008), forthcoming from W. W. Norton as Funeral for a Dog. This is the kind of writing…...

Dispatches: Under the Volcano

November 2, the Day of the Dead in Mexico, marked the 70th anniversary of the day on which Malcolm Lowry’s masterpiece Under the Volcano begins. In honor of that anniversary I began rereading it, but first I reread the letter that Lowry wrote to Jonathan Cape, his publisher, after hearing that…...

Today in International Lit

Why we Read Bolaño Horacio Castellanos Moya's, "Bolaño Inc." for the November Guernica, is a further effort to debunk our romanticized construction of the decade's literary star. Moya is one of our authors, so we have to forgive him if he overlooked some of the more thoughtful criticism…...

Polish Poetry Now

Last week, the Polish Cultural Institute presented a two-part symposium at Poets House that sought to address questions on the nature and identity of Polish poets working today. The program began Tuesday with a panel discussion, and culminated with readings by each of the four participating poets on…...

South Africa: A Traveler’s Literary Companion

Based in Berkeley, California, Whereabouts Press publishes an intriguing series of Traveler's Literary Companions. "Unlike guidebooks written by professional travel writers," they explain, "our books feature stories written by literary writers -- all of whom who have lived in the places they write…...

Today in International Lit

WWB in the New Yorker The November issue of Words Without Borders, with new translations from Germany, has just gone live and is met with praise today from the New Yorker's Book Bench blog with a piece that focuses on contributor Feridun Zaimoğlu, who, along with fellow German-Turkish contributor…...

CLMP Spelling Bee

My agent sent me an invitation to a fundraiser. I was in town, so I had no excuse not to go. Besides that, I'm in generally in favor of fundraisers. I would happily go to a fundraiser in support of better living conditions for milk cows in the Midwest, but I would be equally supportive if some organization…...

October, 2009

From the Magazine

Before we launch the November issue, we'd like to highlight Abdourahman Waberi's wonderful piece of reportage on Rwanda, fifteen years after the genocide, "Rawanda: The Flame of Hope." Waberi was born in Djibouti and also writes fiction and poetry. He was a juror for the Lettre Ulysses Prize…...

Three Kilos of Coffee

Manu Dibango is a jazz saxophonist with an international reputation. His song “Soul Makossa” is sometimes credited with being the first disco tune. Dibango was born in Cameroon in 1933. At the age of fifteen he left the country for a boarding school in France. His father gave him a small…...

Today in International Lit

Spain's Prince of Asturias Awards Cultural exchange continues in Europe among prestigious prize-givers, with Albanian writer Ismail Kadaré cinching the Prince of Asurias Award for literature. The awards are in eight categories, and according to Euro News they are the Spanish equivalent of…...

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