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March, 2010

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…...

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…...

January, 2010

film icon Searching for rue Simon-Crubellier

Image of Searching for rue Simon-Crubellier
 "Play with all your mind, play" I think, echoing here the epigraph to Life A Users Manual with my own substitution, that Georges Perec would have liked the "Searching for rue Simon-Crubellier" project where two artists search in Paris for the fictional street where the novel takes place.…...

Editing Georges Perec

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(Godine is publishing a new, corrected edition of Life A User's Manual and the first-ever English edition of Perec's essays collected in Thoughts of Sorts. I recently spoke with Susan Barba, an editor at Godine who worked on both of these books.) Scott Esposito: My first question has to do with…...

Op Oloop

Image of Op Oloop
 In the spirit of our PerecFest, I recommend Juan Filloy’s Op Oloop, published last summer by Dalkey Archive in Lisa Dillman’s ingenious translation. The title chimes with upending as well as with Oulipo, both appropriate cognates for Filloy’s ludic acrobatics. Filloy spoke…...

4 Gentle Persuasions: An Annotated List of 4 Quotations from the Works of Georges Perec (4)

Image of 4 Gentle Persuasions: An Annotated List of 4 Quotations from the Works of Georges Perec (4)
4) “Grifalconi shook his head.  In one of the attics in Château de la Muette he had found the remains of a table.  Its oval top, wonderfully inlaid with mother-of-pearl, was exceptionally well preserved; but its base, a massive, spindle-shaped column of grained wood, turned out…...

On Horia Gârbea’s “Father’s Return from War. Topics”

"Father's Return from War. Topics," by Horia Gârbea This string of eight vignettes, "Father's Return from War," translated from the Romanian by Mihaela Mudure, does not follow the conventions of flash fiction, which makes it interesting to look at alongside the other stories in this month's…...

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