Category: Dispatches

December, 2012

It’s Not a Crime: Reading and Analyzing Translated Thrillers

Crime fiction is a popular and pleasurable genre, but it’s also an educational one, especially if you read translated crime fiction. In my role as the schools and libraries liaison for the British Centre for Literary Translation, which is based at the University of East Anglia in England, I give…...

November, 2012

From the Archives: Chinese Writing, Banned and Otherwise

Mo Yan's Nobel turned a spotlight on Chinese writers and literature, and the continuing controversy over his selection has prolonged, and intensified, that focus. Our timely current issue of banned writing represents only a fraction of the Chinese work on the site; so if you’ve worked your…...

A Literary Genre with “Chinese Characteristics”

Embellishing a piece of nonfiction work with elements of fiction is a big no-no in the West.  Writers and publishers are expected to avoid blurring their boundaries.  But it’s a different story in China.  Nonfiction writers follow what they call the “doculiterary” genre,…...

“Friendship is a religion”

Image of “Friendship is a religion”
Tahar Ben Jelloun was born in the city of Fès in 1944. He attended an Arabic-French elementary school, studied French in Tangier until the age of eighteen, then studied philosophy and wrote his first poems at Mohammed V University in Rabat. He is best known for his novels The Sand Child and The…...

September, 2012

Michael Henry Heim, 1943–2012

The incomparable Michael Henry Heim died September 29. Translator of scores of books from a dozen languages and professor of Slavic at UCLA for forty years, he did perhaps more than anyone to advance translation in the US. Michael shaped both theory and practice across the field, introducing English-language…...

The 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature: Round Two

Resuming our earier conversation, the speculation continues. Britain's suspiciously accurate Ladbrokes (remember, last year they had Tomas Transtromer in the top five) bets on Haruki Murakami at 5:1, followed by Bob Dylan (per an earlier commenter: oh, honestly) at 10:1, Mo Yan and Cees Nooteboom…...

The 2012 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 laureates Herta Müller, J. M. G. Le Clézio,…...

July, 2012

The Decline and Fall of a Translator’s Brain

Just when you think you’ve figured out what is going on in the Toh Enjoe story “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Galactic Empire,” you trip on another oblique reference to some bit of the outside world. It’s a story that bears up to—and in fact, requires—multiple…...

We Have to Love Brazil: A FLIP Diary

Day One: Wednesday, July 4 Precisamos adorar o Brasil! We have to love Brazil! Anticipation is running high as FLIP (the Festa Literária Internacional de Paraty, or International Literary Festival of Paraty) kicks off its tenth year this evening. Set in a picturesque colonial village four hours…...

On “Fish Variations”

Fish Variations has a very particular phonetic structure that throws up special challenges for the translator. Here are a few comments on these challenges and how I addressed them. Both original poem and translation have seven verses. The first four verses and the final verse are linked by vowel patterns,…...

June, 2012

How “To Algeria, with Love” became “La Repubblica di Wally”

Einaudi bought the Italian rights to my novel before it had an English language publisher, editor, or even a title. Work on the translation began last summer, around the time the book was published in the UK by Virago as To Algeria, with Love. As luck would have it, my husband and I were in southern…...

Magdy El Shafee Publishes “Metro” in English

It's Metro Day at WWB. We're celebrating the publication of Magdy El Shafee's graphic novel, available today from Metropolitan Books in Chip Rossetti's translation. Readers will recall that WWB published an extract in February 2008, and that the book was seized on publication in Egypt…...

May, 2012

Can Literature Bear Witness?

Image of Can Literature Bear Witness?
As part of the PEN World Voices Festival, Herta Müller spent an afternoon at NYU's Deutsches Haus on May 3 to discuss whether it's possible for literature to bear witness. When I arrived at the venue, the main floor was packed, which I expected for a Nobel Prize winner. I did not expect,…...

April, 2012

The Advanced Language Class as Translation Workshop

A wonderful, and perhaps underappreciated, way to bring international literature into the classroom is through transforming advanced language classes into translation workshops. While language classes might seem an obvious home for news from afar, some people associate translation in language classes…...

March, 2012

From the Translator: Working with the Author

Editor's note: Translator Samantha Schnee worked closely with author Carmen Boullosa throughout the translation of the latter's "Sleepless Homeland." The following exchange, with its multiple rounds of drafts, queries, and responses, provides an instructive glimpse of the process. Did we lose…...

Celebrating World Poetry Day

Today is World Poetry Day, and in celebration we invite you to explore our rich archives. Start with Ilya Kaminsky's brilliant manifesto on poetry in translation, "Correspondences in the Air," from our Ecco Anthology of International Poetry, and then turn to the nearly six hundred poems we've…...

Japan, One Year Later

On March 11, 2011, the Tōhoku region of northeastern Japan was rocked by a violent earthquake and tsunami that triggered an accident at a nuclear power plant. We mark the anniversary with poems by two Japanese writers, both translated by Jeffrey Angles. In "Do Not Tremble," Sayaka…...

Best Translated Book Award Fiction Longlist Announced

Three Percent, the resource for international literature based at the University of Rochester, has announced the fiction longlist for the 2012 Best Translated Book Awards. The twenty-five nominees include books by WWB authors David Albahari, Sergio Chejfec, Johan Harstad, Dany Laferrière, Inka…...

February, 2012

Celebrating International Mother Language Day

On February 2, 1952, during a peaceful demonstration to demand national status in East Pakistan for the Bengali language, four students were shot dead in the street. A postcolonial trauma that would lead to war and the creation of the nation of Bangladesh. In 1999 the General Conference of UNESCO proclaimed…...

Festival Neue Literatur This Week in New York

The Festival Neue Literatur has been around since 2010.  This festival of new writing from the German-speaking countries (Austria, Germany, and Switzerland) is put on in New York every year, in February, by a consortium of cultural institutes.  It takes place over a long weekend and consists…...

January, 2012

Homeless Rats: A Parable for Postrevolution Libya

Libyan writer and diplomat Ahmed Ibrahim Fagih’s Homeless Rats is a quasi-fantastic historical novel that offers considerable insight into Libyan culture and geography, in particular that of the Western Jebel Nafusa, which played a key role in Gaddafi’s ouster. The plot revolves around…...

December, 2011

MuXin, 1927–2011

Chinese writer and painter MuXin died December 21. MuXin was born in 1927 in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province, to an wealthy, aristocratic family. Like most intellectuals in the late 1940s, he rallied around Mao Zedong’s vision for a new China, but he quickly became disillusioned. Between the Communist…...

On North Korea: Leaders Great and Dear, and Literature

The opacity that his obituaries attribute to Kim Jong-il extends to North Korean literary culture. WWB has published a fair amount of writing from the country, starting with our second issue in September 2003, Writing from North Korea, and continuing with our anthology Literature from the "Axis of Evil":…...

October, 2011

The Black Hat: On Self-Translation and Freedom

There is a lively interest in literature in Iceland, although the foreigner tends to see this in a somewhat romantic light.  Although there are Viking festivals each summer and the foreigner might be under the impression that most Icelanders are widely read in the sagas, this is far from true. Most…...

The 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature: It’s Tomas Tranströmer

The Nobel Prize in Literature goes to Sweden's great Tomas Tranströmer. The Swedish Academy said it recognized the eighty-year-old poet "because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality." From his "Prelude," translated for us by Rika Lesser: In the first…...

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