Category: Dispatches

March, 2011

Baseball Springs Eternal

It was afternoon on Friday, March 11, 2011.  I was in the office at my home in Sendai, working on a manuscript I had just started.  Spring is the season of new beginnings.  In Japan, graduation ceremonies in March are followed by matriculation ceremonies in April.  For students it…...

The Writer and the Screenwriter: An Interview with Domenico Starnone

Domenico Starnone has written for film both directly and indirectly: he has over a dozen screenplays to his credit, and has had one of his novels, Denti, turned into a film. This interview was conducted on e-mail. The questions were translated into Italian by Marco Candida, and Starnone's responses…...

The Romance of Diva

Image of The Romance of Diva
The first time I saw Diva, I was about the same age as Jules, the French mailman, opera enthusiast, and thief who is its hero. Most likely I saw it at the intimate and old-fashioned Brattle Theater in Harvard Square, one of the places I miss most about Cambridge. Diva is a highly romantic movie, steeped…...

The Battle of Algiers

Saadi Yacef headed the Algerian rebel movement, the Front de Libération Nationale, in Algiers until his capture in summer 1957. Unlike his fellow combatants in the movement, murdered in captivity by the French military or blown up by French explosives in their Casbah hideouts or strangled by their…...

“Hitchcock and Agha Baji”: The MacGuffin in Iran

Behnam Dayani's

À Tout de Suite, written and directed by Benoît Jacquot

Image of À Tout de Suite, written and directed by Benoît Jacquot
In honor of the new Movies Issue, we’re writing about our favorite foreign films; my choice: À Tout de Suite (2005), written and directed by Benoît Jacquot. Conceptually, À Tout de Suite (“Right Now”), based on a memoir by Elisabeth Fanger, sounds almost willfully…...

February, 2011

From the Translator: Agnes Scott Langeland on Kjell Askildsen’s “Dogs of Thessaloniki”

My first encounter with Kjell Askildsen’s marvelous short stories was in 1995, in an anthology called Et stort øde landskap (A Wide Empty Landscape), published by Oktober in 1991.  Their effect on me was searing. The simple, low-key language had unexpected force, making it almost painful…...

Questions for Peter Bush and Teresa Solana

Peter Bush has been translating the fiction of Teresa Solana since 2005, producing sparkling English versions of many of her stories and two of her comic noirs, A Shortcut to Paradise and A Not So Perfect Crime.  Here the couple, both former directors of national translation centers, talk about…...

A Interview with Kim Thompson of Fantagraphics Books

Mass media may often associate comics with blockbuster-movie superheroes and kids’ cartoons, but as evidenced by the diverse works from comics and graphic novel publisher Fantagraphics Books, this visual medium wields the power to make hard-hitting political and social commentary or explore the…...

Chihoi in Action

Kaleidoscope, a marvelous, eye-widening exhibition on the history of Hong Kong comics, is a ten-minute walk down to the river from the center of town. The exhibit is composed of individual units that are practical, durable, and ingeniously designed, like high-end luggage: black, on casters, all the edges…...

Meeting of the Pharaohs by the Red Sea

Algerian Kamel Daoud is editor in chief of the French language daily newspaper Quotidien d'Oran, where he writes a daily column, or chronique, under the title "Raina Raikoum" [Our Opinion Is Your Opinion].  In a country under state of emergency/political lockdown since 1992, and where TV and…...

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,…...

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