Category: Dispatches

February, 2011

Africans in Paris: On “Malamine”

“I’ve never seen an African in a bookstore in France,” said Christophe Ngalle Edimo. “I say African, because whatever country in Africa you’re actually from, the minute you set foot in France, you’re an African. That’s how they see you—not who you are,…...

An Algerian Lexicon

On February 3, smelling the smoke from Cairo, Algeria's aging President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, emerged from a long silence and promised an end to the state of emergency that has kept the country in political lockdown since 1992. The coalition of protest groups planning a nationwide "peaceful march…...

Voices, Voices Everywhere: Democracy in Tunisia

“A young man has set himself on fire in Sidi Bouzid,” B. told me one morning over coffee last December.  He could not find a job and the police would not even let him be a fruit vendor. We still did not know his name.  B. then spoke of the brutal repression against shocked demonstrators…...

From the Translator: Jonathan Blitzer on “Ride of the Valkyries”

In his post, "Our Man in Madrid" series editor Jonathan Blitzer speaks about Wagnerian imprecations and military coups in Juan Carlos Chirinos's "Ride of the Valkyries." Juan Carlos Chirinos dedicated “Ride of the Valkyries,” to his friend, the Venezuelan photographer and portraitist …...

January, 2011

A Rumbling Octopus: Egyptians Take to the Streets in Protest

"The square’s full.  The streets feeding into it are full…There’s never been a demonstration like this before…Egypt appeared to be one great demonstration, united in one person and a single chant.” —from Palace Walk, by Naguib Mahfouz, translated by William…...

From Angoulême: European Comics in Anglophone Markets

Thursday, I attended a session in the “rights balloon” (let’s hope it’s not a “rights bubble”) entitled “Franco-Belgian BD business in the USA Today.” The panel, moderated by noted English comics blogger Paul Gravett, consisted of four American editors,…...

Angoulême Bubbles Over

Angoulême! It’s an eyegasm. As promised. The sky, overcast since Paris, finally brightened as the TGV pulled past Poitiers without stopping. From my seat, I was playing the game I always do when going to geek cons, whether comics or science-fiction and fantasy: spot your fellow travelers.…...

Debeurme, Berberian, and Denis, Signing in Brussels

Frit Flagey is regularly considered one of the best fry joints (friterie, or fritkot) in Brussels. It’s also one of the slowest, and so can always be spotted by its line, in which smatterings of many languages and diversely accented French are often heard. Over the last year it has moved three…...

In Memoriam: Abdellatif el Jaziri, 1969–2010

Abdellatif el Jaziri was a Moroccan from Fez with a fine Berber head (long and narrow, with a strong chin and prominent cheekbones) and an unflappable sense of humor.  Until recently, he taught Arabic in New York City. “Sometimes it seemed like half the city wanted him to teach them Arabic,”…...

Humphrey Davies Wins 2010 Saif Ghobash-Banipal Prize

Congratulations to our marvelous Arabic translator Humphrey Davies, winner of the 2010 Saif Ghobash–Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for his translation of Elias Khoury's novel Yalo. Humphrey also won the inaugural Saif Ghobash–Banipal Prize in 2006 for his translation of…...

A Training Manual for Murder

Ambar Past's mordant "Practice for Hangmen," from our March 2007 issue, offers a training manual for executioners. Jumping off from a Reuters report on the unfortunate results of flawed execution, Past puts a twist to the list poem. Acknowledging the inherent problem of practice, she advises, "Get…...

The Worst Editing Job in the World

. . . is the task accepted by the narrator of Horacio Castellanos Moya's Senselessness. In this extract from our issue of October 2006, a self-described "depraved atheist" writer is hired by the Catholic Church to edit an eleven-hundred-page report on the military's massacres of Indian villages. …...

December, 2010

White Christmas, Black Magic

For a twist on seasonal themes, check out Angelo Cannavacciuolo's "White Christmas," from our December 2008 issue. Yes, the story takes place on December 23 and 24, and snow does finally fall; but the title refers to the perfume with which the hooker Maria has ensorcelled the older, married Antonio,…...

A Semester’s Fruits: A Followup Report on the MFA Program at Queens College

It’s been quite a fall.  Those of you who read my earlier dispatch about arriving at Queens College of the City University of New York last September to teach in the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation there know how my semester started out.  Now it’s just ended,…...

Platform of Blood

After you've shuddered through this month's offerings, check out "The Platform" from January 2010. Brazil's Pena Cabreira enters the mind of a master carpenter and builds to a piercing climax. You may never leave ground level again.

Wu Ming on King: On Translating Stephen King into Italian

We were intrigued to learn that Stephen King's new Italian translator is a member of the collective known as Wu Ming.  Wu Ming 1 graciously agreed to answer our questions. WWB: How did you decide to translate this book [Full Dark, No Stars]? WM1: I've been reading King's books since…...

November, 2010

The Other Turkey

As Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, we serve up the other Turkey. In addition to the fiction and poetry in this month's issue ("Before winter arrives you must hire a handsome assassin"), do help yourself to our all-Turkish issues. The first, "Women on the Verge of European Union," from December…...

From a Syrian Prison

Although our new anthology, Tablet and Pen,  is predicated on the common experience of colonialization, many of the contributors have also fought repression by their own governments. Syrian writer Faraj Bayraqdar was arrested in 1987 on suspicion of having been active in that country's Party…...

Adonis on Migration and Loss

The many marvelous poets in our new anthology, Tablet and Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East, include the dazzling Adonis. The  most important poet writing in Arabic today and a perennial candidate for the Nobel Prize, Adonis--critic, translator, and anthologist--is a crucial part…...

October, 2010

From the Translator: Kim M. Hastings on Translating “Borges’s Secretary”

In this dispatch, Portuguese translator Kim M. Hastings weighs in on her translation of Lúcia Bettencourt's story "Borges's Secretary" from the October 2010 issue of the magazine. You can read the original story here. Not long after I translated “Borges’s Secretary,”…...

The 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature: It’s Vargas Llosa

It's Mario Vargas Llosa. The announcement isn't on the Nobel site site yet, but the Swedish Academy commended the author "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt and defeat." He's the first South American writer since…...

The 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature:  Week Three Countdown

Forty-eight hours to go to the announcement, and the race is up for grabs. Six hours ago, Ladbrokes had Ngugi wa Thiong’o at 3:1, followed by Cormac McCarthy (6:1), Haruki Murakami (7:1), Tomas Transtromer (9:1), Adonis (11:1), Gerald Murnane (11:1), and Ko Un (12:1). At day's end, Ngugi remains…...

September, 2010

MFA in Translation: Queens College

According to the New York Times, New York’s borough of Queens is one of the most linguistically diverse urban areas in the country—its inhabitants listed 138 different languages on their census forms this year—making it a perfect place to study translation.  And indeed, in 2007…...

NEA Literature Translation Fellowships Announced

The National Endowment for the Arts has announced the 2011 Literature Translation Fellowships, and we're delighted to see so many WWB friends and contributors on the list. Congratulations to Esther Allen, Robert Bononno, Bill Coyle, Edward Gauvin, Jason Grunebaum, Yasmeen Hanoosh, Deborah Hoffman,…...

From the Archives: Trading Maniacs

If you're reveling in this month's Urdu issue, do check out Saadat Hasan Manto's 1955 classic "Toba Tek Singh" from September 2003. Just after Partition, the governments of Pakistan and India decide to exchange lunatics: "Muslim lunatics in Indian madhouses would be sent to Pakistan, while…...

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