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December, 2008

A Dangerous Homage

Translated from the Spanish by Samantha Schnee Ten years ago, in the summer of 1997, I was visiting Guatemala City and staying with a friend when the phone rang in the middle of the night. It was my mother calling from San Salvador: badly shaken, she said she had just received two phone calls from a…...

Horacio Castellanos Moya’s “Senselessness” chosen among “The Best Books of 2008” at NPR

For their Best Books of the Year list, National Public Radio (NPR) chose Horacio Castellanos Moya's Senselessness among the top five foreign novels of the year. Senslessness is the story of an unnamed writer copyediting oral accounts of crimes against humanity in (an also unnamed) Guatemala as he himself…...

Ilya Kaminsky Awarded Lannan Literary Fellowship

Ilya Kaminsky, poetry editor at Words Without Borders, has been awarded a two-year literary fellowship by the Lannan Foundation. From their website: The Lannan Literary Awards and Fellowships were established in 1989 to honor both established and emerging writers whose work is of exceptional quality.…...

Dispatches: Creativity through Constraint

It is easy to think of translation in terms of confinement, especially when it comes to the translation of poetry. But there are have been literal renderings (Nabokov's Eugene Onegin), out-and-out rewrites (Lowell's Imitations), and even translations by those who aren't familiar with the source language…...

Three Percent’s Book-a-day

As we mentioned last week, the publisher devoted to literary translations, Open Letter, has introduced their "Best Literary Translation Award" starting last week with a long-list of 25 titles. Throughout the time before the announcement of the short-list on January 27th and the final winner on February…...

A Great Conversation on 2666

I think I could have listened to Francisco Goldman tell stories all night long, despite the heat raditating from over a hundred of us standing, eager Bolaño fans at Idlewild Bookstore Thursday night. While Goldman and Bolaño had never met - indeed, Goldman had not read Bolaño until…...

News from the Translation Front

The Elizabeth Kostova Foundation offers its second annual summer fiction-writing seminar in historic Sozopol in Bulgaria. The seminar consists of intensive daily fiction workshops, roundtable discussions, and readings/lectures by faculty and participants. Fiction writers from Bulgaria and fiction writers…...

Toussaint, Camus

Martin Riker from Dalkey Archive Press has an interesting piece at "The Front Table"* on his love for Jean-Philippe Toussaint's work. Regarding why it's important to publish several of Toussaint's books together, which Dalkey is doing, he says "This is not just about a book. Here's a writer who is doing…...

This Thursday: Francisco Goldman and Natasha Wimmer on Bolaño’s 2666

Novelist Francisco Goldman and translator Natasha Wimmer will discuss Roberto Bolaño's 2666 this Thursday at Idlewild Books in New York City. Brought together as part of the Words Without Borders "Conversations on Great Contemporary Literature" series, there are not too many people who could carry…...

November, 2008

Fagles Prize to Lawrence Venuti

We're delighted to report that Lawrence Venuti has been awarded the 2008 Robert Fagles Translation Prize for his translation of the Catalan poet Ernest Farrés's Edward Hopper. You can read four of these poems, each inspired by a different Hopper painting, in our Catalan issue of last October....

A Treaty of Love

After my trip to Lebanon in the spring of 2007, I traveled to London to interview the Lebanese-Palestinian author Samir El-Youssef. El-Youssef has a beautiful and contagious laugh. That was the first thing I noticed over lunch in a Lebanese restaurant. The second thing that became clear was that El-Youssef…...

October, 2008

My Book Party in Eupen

In September my new novel was published in the Netherlands. The book launch seems to have become an inevitable part of the publication of a new book, at least in the Netherlands. A publisher in the U.S. once explained to me that book launches were considered a waste of money, but that if I wanted to…...

A Feast for Readers: Eid Specials in Bangladesh

The last morning of September, I learn that the Daily Star's Eid Literature Special has come out. It includes a personal essay from me, so I head out for a nearby newspaper vendor. He's at Farmgate, fifteen minutes away. On my walk I notice many shops are shuttered. People are vacating the city. Dhaka…...

Le Clezio wins Nobel

In a decision that none of our in-house bookmakers called, French author J. M. G. Le Clezio has won this year's Nobel Prize for Literature. Dig into the WWB archives for a look at his work, in this excerpt from his book Wandering Star

Words with Borders…and Borders and Borders

With regrets for the delay in commenting on this, here's an interesting piece from the New York Times on the complicated and often confounding interplay of language, culture and politics in the Caucasus. It's an intriguing look at the fate of the lingua franca that falls out of grace, and provides some…...

Mahmoud Darwish Tribute on the Bowery

A tribute to the late Mahmoud Darwish will be held at the Bowery Poetry Club this Sunday, October 5th at 1:30 PM. Readers will include Breyten Breytenbach, Pierre Joris, Ammiel Alcalay, Ghassan Nasr, Danae Elon, Bob Holman and others. Admission is free, and we encourage all the New Yorkers and lovers…...

The 2008 Nobel Prize in Literature: Our Office Pool

Between the World Cup and the World Series comes high season for world literature: time to place your bets on this year's candidates for the Nobel Prize in Literature. You can read two of the usual suspects, Adonis and Ko Un, right here, as well as 1988 laureate Naguib Mahfouz and, of course, any number…...

On the Passing of Ahmed Faraz

It would be accurate to say that Faraz was the most famous and beloved twentieth-century Urdu poet from the subcontinent, after Iqbal(1877-1938) and Faiz (1911-1984). He may even be the most sung or popular among his contemporaries in any South Asian language. This is no small feat, since many of Faraz's…...

Imagination Can Take You Everywhere

All work and no play describes my summer this year. So I headed for the Arts Club in Mayfair with delight to celebrate the publication of Andrew Logan: An Artistic Adventure. One of the first

September, 2008

Jabuti Prize for Tezza’s “Eternal Son”

WWB author Cristovão Tezza has won the prestigious Jabuti Prize for his book The Eternal Son. You can read an excerpt from the book in our September issue, over here Our heartiest congratulations to him!

2009 Susan Sontag Prize for Translation

Translators under 30, this is for you: The Susan Sontag Foundation has announced its annual prize for translation, with a cash award of $5,000. This year the call is for work translated from Spanish into English. You can find more details on applying at the website, and look at the winners of last year's…...

Truth and War Literature

As of Monday September 8, I've been teaching at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. Not forever, thank God, just for one semester. One course that I'm teaching side-by-side with a philosopher is about Plato's Symposium. I'm not a Plato specialist, and neither is the philosopher. For close reading,…...

Yalo Discussion Forum

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August, 2008

On Mahmoud Darwish

In an earlier post, I raised the issue of the dearth of translations done of intellectual and critical writing from Arabic (and most of the other languages of the world). The translation of poetry also presents special problems. Poetry is central to literary culture in Arabic and has been so since Arabic…...

An Invisible Cabal in the Sky

On August 7th, Russia responded to a Georgian attack on the capital of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, with a massive deployment of troops across the border and attacks on the Georgian cities of Gori and Poti. This open act of aggression brought an end to the "frozen conflict" between the countries that has…...

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