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January, 2010

Translate This Book!

Perhaps it’s unnecessary to draw attention to Translate This Book! at The Quarterly Conversation — after all, The New Yorker has already done so — but I wanted to point out two African volumes in the list: Aynfelale or “Let Us Not Separate,” written by Alemseged Tesfai and…...

How To Be Human*

A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to Chicago to meet the distinguished economist Deirdre McCloskey. The reason for the meeting was research for my new novel. I wanted to know more about economists. A mutual friend had introduced us and Deirdre McCloskey was kind enough to answer my initial request by…...

Welcome to the New Words without Borders

On behalf of the staff of Words without Borders, I’d like to welcome you to our new site. As you can see, the changes are fairly dramatic. Not only does it look amazing, but the navigation is far more intuitive, and content from both the current issue and from our archives is much more at the forefront.…...

Around the Web: Marías, Bolaño, Best Translated Book Long-list

I'll be reporting here a bit more about Javier Marías, but ran across this today (when reading a letter to the editor of TLS by the wonderful writer Gabriel Josipovici) and think it will be of interest to Marías fans: Marías’s mentor Sir, – Reviewing Your Face Tomorrow 3 by Javier…...

December, 2009

Today in International Lit

Liu Xiaobo Sentenced, PEN Press Conference to Follow A message from The PEN American Center:   As you have heard, the Chinese government has sentenced our colleague Liu Xiaobo to 11 years in prison in China. This Thursday, we will hold an outdoor press event in midtown Manhattan to protest the verdict…...

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 icon Binhad 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 icon Poeboes 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…...

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