Today in International Lit

By David Varno

WWB in the New Yorker

The November issue of Words Without Borders, with new translations from Germany, has just gone live and is met with praise today from the New Yorker's Book Bench blog with a piece that focuses on contributor Feridun Zaimoğlu, who, along with fellow German-Turkish contributor Yadé Kara, represent the hybridizing of language special to a lot of contemporary German literature. The New Yorker features a clip from something Zaimoğlu wrote for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung on learning to read and to escape from the real world. It's a nice companion to "The Knowledge Holder Doesn't Choke on Cleverness," translated from the German by Kristen Dickinson, Robin Ellis, and Priscilla Layne, featured here at WWB.

Also see Ronald Grigor Suny's recent chronicle of the fall of communism in the Nation, "Empire Falls: The Revolutions of 1989," which reviews three books: Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire, by Victor Sebestyen, There Is No Freedom Without Bread!: 1989 and the Civil War That Brought Down Communism, by Constantine Pleshakov, and Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment, by Stephen Kotkin, with a contribution by Jan T. Gross.

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Notes on the International Festival of Authors

Last week on Conversational Reading, Scott Esposito posted his coverage on the two-week International Festival of Authors, Toronto, which has been going on until today. Esposito focused on a panel featuring Nicholson Baker, Adam Thorpe, David Wroblewski and others that led to a debate on the function and possibilities of the English language for literature. The panel didn't address translation specifically (except for Thorpe's proposed exercise of transcribing from Latin to contemporary English in order to approximate Middle English), but Esposito's summary could be useful for translators nonetheless.

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Event Reminders for Launch of The Wall In My Head:

The Wall in our Heads: The 2009 Words without Borders Fundraiser
Monday, November 9, 2009 at the Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street, New York, NY 10021

To support Words without Borders in bringing literary voices from around the world into English, we will be hosting a fundraiser in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and in celebration of the release of our newest anthology, The Wall in My Head. Paul Holdengräber, Director of Public Programs at the NYPL, will host a program of readings by Paul Auster, Siri Hustvedt, and Peter Schneider. After a Central and Eastern European dinner, Dean Wareham (musician, and former frontman of the bands Galaxie 500 and Luna) will DJ. For details and tickets click here.

The Wall in my Head Reading and Q&A
Idlewild Books, 12 W. 19th Street, New York, NY
November 10, 2009 7 p.m.

Words without Borders will host a short reading followed by a discussion and Q&A, featuring a group of writers from its new anthology The Wall in My Head and from its November issue on German writing from the years after 1989. The readers will include Dorota Maslowska (Poland), the author of Snow White and Russian Red, and winner of the Nike prize; Dan Sociu(Romania), the author of Urbancholia; and Kathrin Aehnlich (Germany), author of Alle Sterben, auch Die Loeffelstoere. The event will be moderated by Eliot Borenstein, Chair of the Department of Russian and Slavic Studies at New York University, and the author of Overkill: Sex and Violence in Contemporary Russian Popular Culture. The panelists will discuss their contributions to the WWB anthology and issue, the relevance of the events of 1989 to today’s world, the role of literature and culture in bringing down the Iron Curtain, and what the fall of the wall has meant for writers in the former Eastern Bloc.

This event is cosponsored by Open Letter Books, the Polish Cultural Institute in New York, the Romanian Cultural Institute, the German Book Office, and the Goethe-Institut.


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