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June, 2009

International Literary News

Following the death of publishing legend Richard Seaver, Arcade Publishing (Octavio Paz, Ismail Kadare) filed for bankruptcy yesterday. Crain's has the report. Seaver, who began with Grove and championed Beckett and Genet, among others, passed away in January. Widow Jenneatte Seaver, who co-ran the company,…...

The Hidden Fact: Gerald Martin talk on his Gabriel Garcia Marquez Bio

Gerald Martin's talk on his new work, Gabriel Garcia Marquez: A Life (Knopf) at the Americas Society on Park Avenue this past week was as magical as one would have guessed anything involving Marquez would be. The rooms at the Americas Society remind me of Versailles, and in the audience, I was told,…...

Twenty Years after Tiananmen

In an exclusive series for Words without Borders, dissident leader Wang Dan speaks out on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. In his first post, below, he describes the climate at the time of the demonstrations and compares it with the situation in China today.…...

The Fantasy and the Far-Out

Why do people want to listen to an author when they have their books? From time to time, I'm plagued by this question. The last week of May, the Third International Forum on the Novel took place in the French city of Lyon. The line-up was impressive, from Aharon Appelfeld to Will Self, and from Adam…...

International Literary News

Pierre Michon's latest book, Les onze (The Eleven), due this month from Editions Verdier, is a historical novel set at the end of the Reign of Terror. In a listing for a reading that will coincide with the book's release at Librairie Le square in Grenoble, France, Initiales wrote this of Michon's writing:…...

Profession of Faith

In his final post in this series, Yani Mentzas takes us back to his childhood memories of Tezuka and talks about how public (and private) perceptions of the author's work have evolved over the years. —Editors While the perception that comics are mainstream in Japan is true to an extent, the case…...

May, 2009

Dispatches: Echoes of an Autobiography by Naguib Mahfouz

My reaction to the work of Naguib Mahfouz has been exceptionally mixed. I have enjoyed the light touch and raffish characters of short novels like Adrift on the Nile (my review) yet I could make no headway on the first volume of the Cairo Trilogy, which seemed almost a parody of the ponderous family…...

Translating “The Tale of Genji”, the World’s First Novel

In her second blog post for our issue of Japanese literature, Juliet Grames explores the roots of contemporary writing by discussing the now 1,000-year-old Tale of Genji. —Editors You may have heard the exciting news: it's the 1000th-anniversary of The Tale of Genji, the Japanese epic commonly…...

Words Without Borders Staff Picks for Summer Reading

It was awkward at first. Halfway through our annual Memorial Day Words Without Borders vs Doctors Without Borders softball game, Joshua – our shortstop – starts asking us all what we’re recommending to our friends to read this summer. You can guess the outcome of the game, but I did…...

International Literary News

In the LA Times blog Jacket Copy's Memorial Day roundup of 20th Cenutry war literature, Thomas McGonigle generously rememberd Carlo Emilio Gadda's That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana as "the only Italian novel of the 20th century that is reasonably compared in power and scope to James Joyce's Ulysses."…...

Deus Ex Tezuka: The Inaugural Episode of “Black Jack”

In his third post for our Japan issue, Yani Mentzas dissects the the moral (and national) background in Tezuka's work and discusses the religious imagery of a miracle-working doctor. —Editors Tezuka's ability to explore matters of divinity within manga, a form that was deemed inherently frivolous,…...

International Literature News

We're all saddened by the death of past contributor Mario Benedetti, though it is amazing to see the immediate, creative responses to his work from around the world. Don't miss A.M. Correa's report from yesterday. ---------------------- This past Tuesday at the CUNY Graduate Center, the PEN American…...

Outpouring for Mario Benedetti

In posting on the recent death of Uruguayan poet and author Mario Benedetti at the age of 88, José Saramago wrote of the spontaneous outpouring of poetry that has spread around the world via the internet:The decipherers of code cannot cope with all of the work, too many enigmas to decode, too…...

Dispatches: Leaving Tangier by Tahar ben Jelloun

Most readers, I think, know the Moroccan writer Tahar ben Jelloun from his novels The Sand Child (my review) and its sequel The Sacred Night. Those books are marked by a prose style that is rich yet never overdone, and a slightly old-fashioned voice. They are the very illustration of control and authority…...

New Writers Explore the Dark Side of Japanese Literature

Book sales are generally down in Japan, and for that matter, they've been down for more than a decade. Sure, you've heard of the rise of keitai shosetsu, novels written and read on the ubiquitous cell phones, but it's no Kindle and no one's getting royalties there. Excuse the pun, but it's something…...

Divine Comics

In his second post for our Japan issue, Yani Mentzas talks about the divine in the work of Osamu Tezuka —Editors In my previous post I pointed out that Osamu Tezuka—the God of Manga (manga no kamisama) and indisputably the most important figure in the history of Japanese comics—needs…...

Weekend Reading

"Witness to war: Evelio Rosero on fiction that fights for the truth" on Rosero's win of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for The Armies, translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean: As many as 100,000 people - mostly civilians - have been killed or "disappeared" in the past 20 years in a conflict…...

Translation and Proficiency Language Teaching

In a previous post, I suggested that the covers of books make for rather poor soil in which to cultivate an appreciation for translated contemporary literature among the general English-reading public. Of course the essential work of translators should be recognized whenever possible, on covers and title…...

Dispatches: Machete Season by Jean Hatzfeld

In the New Yorker recently, Philip Gourevitch published a follow-up article to his book We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families (my review). In it, he explored what is sometimes seen as a nearly miraculous exercise in Christian forgiveness: the fact that in villages across…...

Tanikawa Shuntaro, The Greatest Living Poet You’ve Never Heard Of

In her dispatch for this month's issue on Japanese literature, Juliet Grames directs her attention to the post-war poet Tanikawa Shuntaro and his verse— lyrical, unusual, and largely unheard of in the U.S. —Editors There's nothing quite as exciting and frustrating as finding a piece of extremely…...

PEN World Voices Festival: Richard Ford and Nam Le at Morgan Library

Richard Ford and Nam Le at Morgan Library, May 3, Gilder Lehrman Hall, also part of BOMBLive! series Venerable fiction man Richard Ford gave a particularly generous introduction to young short story writer Nam Le, whose debut collection The Boat received several awards and much critical recognition last…...

International Literature News

On occasion of Zoetrope’s Latin American Issue, editor Daniel Alarcón talked last Friday with the New Yorker’s Book Bench. Contributors include Guillermo del Toro, Daniel Alarcón, Diego Trelles Paz, Carolina Sanín, Ronaldo Menéndez, Inés Bortagaray, Patricio…...

The World According to shinji ishii

In her second dispatch this month, Bonnie Elliott tells us more about shinji ishii and the difficulties of resolving the real with the literary. You can find an excerpt from shinji ishii's Once Upon a Swing in this month's issue of the magazine. —Editors In our first email exchange, shinji explained…...

PEN WORLD VOICES FESTIVAL: Faith and Fiction

The Faith & Fiction panel at the Powerhouse Arena felt like a transcendental experience altogether. The Arena is made up of giant glass windows for walls, and stands hidden at the foot of the East River and under the Manhattan Bridge surrounded by cobblestone. Outside it was pouring warm rain and…...

Is Tezuka God?

Continuing our blog coverage this month to celebrate our Japan issue, Yani Mentzas, who many of our readers will remember from his appearance as a blogger during our Graphic Novels issue, holds forth on Osamu Tezuka. —Editors Back in February, when the Graphic Novels issue was up, I wrote here…...

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