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June, 2009

film icon Literary Reportage: Podcast from the Polish Cultural Institute

Following the Polish Cultural Institute's coverage yesterday of the 2nd International Congress of Polish Translators in Krakow, which took place from June 4 - 6, it seems like a good time to present this podcast, a recording of the May 27 panel Literary Reportage: The Forensics of Crisis at Idlewild…...

Dispatches: Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar

In its no-frills way, Dover Publications has been performing a valuable service: returning to print 19th-century books that few other presses would take a chance on, and doing it affordably. Without Dover, I would have had a tougher time finding some of the classics of African exploration, like Henry…...

film icon Poeboes Podcast—Breyten Breytenbach

Words without Borders is delighted to announce the debut of an ongoing series of podcasts produced by Andre Naffis. In his Poeboes series for WWB, Naffis will speak to writers and poets from around the world and feature clips of them reading from their work. South African poet Breyten Breytenbach reads…...

International Literary News

Two years ago, a new generation of situationists anonymously penned a manifesto, L'insurrection qui vient (The Coming Insurrection). The text has been anonymously translated from the French, and an illegal book party was held yesterday at the Barnes and Noble in Union Square, NYC to mark the occasion.…...

Of Note…

Georges Perec fans will be glad to know that Godine will release a revised 20th anniversary edition of Life A User's Manual this fall. The Review of Contemporary Fiction is updating its Perec issue for their Spring '09 edition as well. ---------------------- The Latin American Review of Books reviews…...

Twenty Years after Tiananmen, Part II

In his second post for Words without Borders, former dissident leader Wang Dan continues his discussion about the significance of the events of June 4 in today's world and to the politics and policies of today's China. You can read his first post over here. —Editors One question that people have…...

Kafka Tribute in New York

What better way to spend a Sunday night in New York then at a “tribute to Kafka” reading, and what better place to do it than the KGB Bar? The KGB is an institution here in New York, for many years now, and the fiction reading series is curated by the talented Suzanne Dottino. The line-up…...

Dispatches: The Seventh Heaven by Naguib Mahfouz
by Geoff Wisner

In August 2006, just a few hours after I finished reading The Seventh Heaven, the final work by the Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz, I heard that he had died at the age of 94—a spooky coincidence perfectly in keeping with a book concerned with the afterlife and the supernatural. Mahfouz was the…...

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…...

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