All Articles by Date

August, 2014

New in Chinese: “The Chilli Bean Paste Clan” by YAN Ge

You might imagine that I thought long and hard in choosing my best untranslated book, because China has so many writers and so little of their work reaches the West, at least in English. But I plumped without any hesitation for Yan Ge’s The Chilli Bean Paste Clan. (The title in Chinese is 《我们家》Our Family.) This is a family drama that manages to be both warm and funny, and barbed and irreverent. The novel is set in a (fictional) small Sichuan town in twenty-first…...

The Week in Translation

GO what: Bread Loaf Translators' Conference when: June 1-7, 2015 where: Bread Loaf Campus of Middlebury College, Ripton, VT more info: http://ow.ly/ArhUv what: 2014 ALTA Conference: Translation & Politics when: November 12-14, 2014 where: Milwaukee, WI more info: http://ow.ly/zVhXF SUBMIT what: 2015 Austrian Cultural Forum New York Translation Prize submissions accepted: July 1-September 1, 2014 more info: http://ow.ly/xwHPP what: Inaugural Gulf Coast Translation Prize…...

Englishing Vladimir Vertlib

Vladimir Vertlib (b. 1966 in Leningrad) is a contemporary Austrian writer. Reviewers in the German press have had trouble putting a label on him, referring to him alternately as a “Russian writer,” an “Austrian Russian,” a “Russian living in Austria,” a “Jewish-German writer of Russian origin,” a “German Jew,” an “Israeli living in Germany,” and even, dismayingly, as a “Hebrew author.” He himself makes no secret of…...

Alessandro Baricco’s “Mr. Gwyn

In the cerebral mystery that is Alessandro Baricco’s Mr. Gwyn, a collection of two interconnected novellas, Baricco intentionally neglects seemingly important details in order to construct a puzzle for the reader. The first of the two novellas, also entitled Mr. Gwyn, follows the life of Jasper Gwyn, a despondent author underwhelmed with his own success, who publicly renounces his career as an acclaimed writer. In an attempt to combat an approaching aimlessness after his sudden retirement,…...

Between Love and Justice: Teaching Literary Translation at Boston University

Early in Sonallah Ibrahim’s novel Al-Jalid (Ice), set in Moscow, the Egyptian narrator is taking the metro home from a concert with his beautiful Russian dorm mate Zoya. The train is loud and his Russian is not great, but he gathers that things are not going well with Hans, her handsome East German boyfriend. Zoya makes several remarks that cry out for affection: she always thought she was ugly; her friends used to call her Skeleton; and so forth. His (non)response is أوشكت…...

Where the Sidewalk Bends: Interview with Sylvio Fraga

Sylvio Fraga was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1986, moved back and forth between the US and Brazil until the age of thirteen, spent his teen years in Rio, earned a BA in Economics at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), directed the Antônia Parreiras Museum in Niterói, then went to NYC for his MFA in Poetry at NYU, and now lives in Rio again, where he mainly writes music and poetry. So far he has published a collection of poems, Among Trees (Bem-Te-Vi, 2011)…...

The City and the Writer: In Iowa City with Chris Merrill

If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains. —Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities Can you describe the mood of Iowa City as you feel/see it? This is the only UNESCO City of Literature in the New World, and so it has an intensely literary feel, thanks to its long tradition of bringing apprentice and established writers to the Writers’ Workshop, the International…...

The Week in Translation

GO what: Bread Loaf Translators' Conference when: June 1-7, 2015 where: Bread Loaf Campus of Middlebury College, Ripton, VT more info: http://ow.ly/ArhUv what: 2014 ALTA Conference: Translation & Politics when: November 12-14, 2014 where: Milwaukee, WI more info: http://ow.ly/zVhXF SUBMIT what: 2015 Austrian Cultural Forum New York Translation Prize submissions accepted: July 1-September 1, 2014 more info: http://ow.ly/xwHPP what: Inaugural Gulf Coast Translation Prize…...

The Translator Relay: Bill Johnston

Our "Translator Relay" series features a new interview each month. This month's translator will choose the next interviewee, adding a different, sixth question. For August's installment, Esther Allen passed the baton to Bill Johnston, who has translated some thirty works of poetry, prose, and drama from Polish into English. He has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2012, his translation…...

The City and the Writer: In New York City with Jason Porter

If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains. —Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities Can you describe the mood of New York City as you feel/see it? When I first moved here, I was most impressed by all the compressed ambition. You have to believe in yourself to think you can keep up with the inflated costs and the amplified pace of everything. If you stop to look up,…...

The Week in Translation

GO what: 2014 ALTA Conference: Translation & Politics when: November 12-14, 2014 where: Milwaukee, WI more info: http://ow.ly/zVhXF SUBMIT what: 2015 Austrian Cultural Forum New York Translation Prize submissions accepted: July 1-September 1, 2014 more info: http://ow.ly/xwHPP what: Inaugural Gulf Coast Translation Prize (this year for poetry) The winner receives $1,000 and publication in the journal. Two honorable mentions will also appear in issue 27.2, due out in April 2015.…...

Where the Sidewalk Bends: The Flip of all Flips

Located on Brazil’s lush Green Coast, midway between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Paraty is a colonial-era town of whitewashed buildings with brightly painted shutters, famous for its beaches, mountains, and cachaça distilleries. For five days last week, its unwieldy cobblestone streets (aka pedras portuguesas falsas) were filled with not only the usual backpackers, horse-drawn carriages, and friendly stray dogs, but also 25,000-some literary types from around the world, who…...

The Week in Translation

GO what: 2014 ALTA Conference: Translation & Politics when: November 12-14, 2014 where: Milwaukee, WI more info: http://ow.ly/zVhXF what: 2014 US Poets in Mexico (USPiM) Conference  when: October 27-31, 2014 where: Oaxaca, Mexico more info: http://ow.ly/zViRq SUBMIT what: 2015 Austrian Cultural Forum New York Translation Prize submissions accepted: July 1-September 1, 2014 more info: http://ow.ly/xwHPP what: Translation Lab 2014 at Ledig House when: November…...

From the Translator: Displaced Subjects and Poetic Fragments

I was introduced to the poetry of Juan Carlos Mestre when a colleague asked me to help her render a difficult line from “Poem to the One in Far-Off Lands” into English for an essay she was writing. I was so enchanted by it that I read the rest of Antífona del otoño en el Valle del Bierzo, or Autumn’s Countersong in Bierzo Valley. Two years later I assigned this book in a course on translating poetry. Along with reading theory and studying the differences between English…...

An Introduction to Finnish Literature

Finland is an enlightened modern Nordic welfare state, wired, highly literate and technologically advanced. Finland is also the most sparsely inhabited country in the European Union, mostly covered in forest, lake, and tundra, where urban life is a relative novelty and the average family spends weeks every summer in a small cabin by a lake or seashore, with no running water and often no electricity. Finland was part of the Swedish Empire for centuries. Its culture is firmly Nordic, its life dotted…...

Letter to Lethe

Just so you know, my beloved daughter, they tell me I was a charming man, the kind of witty rascal whose arms women had the bad habit of throwing themselves into. “You would have liked yourself,” I’m often told. “It was impossible to be bored in your company.” On the other hand, they also say that I was a compulsive Don Juan, that erotic conquests were as natural and indispensable to me as reading is to a bookworm. I’ve heard other things about me, too. I have…...

The Message Bearer

In the entrance hall of the library the children’s coats let off the damp smell of an autumn day. The patter of feet, the giggling of girls, the scrapping of boys: the sounds filled the quiet space of the library. I welcomed the visiting students and their teacher. It had become my habit to bribe the children first, and this time, too, I handed out stickers and a small notebook where they could record what they were reading. I showed my own as an example, and asked the children what their favorite…...

The Weight of Words

The finger of fate pushed Miss Götha Traub into Belgian Wallonia at the end of the 1930s, leaving her stranded there when, with lightning speed, the Wehrmacht occupied the country. She had come to Belgium to study the French language in its Wallonian guise, but during the war she ended up at a hospital caring for casualties, victims of the bombings and those suffering from the diseases that raged during the war. She took care of Belgian civilians, German soldiers, French and English prisoners…...

Final Appearance

That winter afternoon, just before the flyover and exit for the city of S—, E. suddenly saw a broad, dark shadow cross the beam of his headlights. The back-end of a truck! Such was his perception. There must have been an accident and the truck’s trailer had overturned to sprawl diagonally across both lanes of the motorway. E. saw no alternative but to slam on the brakes or swerve off the road. Before fully deciding what action to take—not so much by deliberation as by unconscious…...

The White Room

Daylight and color are to be avoided, says Padima. No troubling pictures and patterns, no colorful details that your gaze gravitates toward. The room is to be clear and peaceful, and as bare as possible. Because once the patient’s senses are numbed by inactivity, the body will gradually calm down. The periods of rest will lengthen on their own, because there is nothing to do. The wild rush of thoughts in the brain will slow down. Everything will become more leisurely: the metabolism, the breathing,…...

Easy as Flushing

Perttu needed to poop. That’s how it had been, the situation, all weekend. But nothing would come out. He stared out the train window, vaguely expressing his discomfort. The crushingly somber pinewood landscape was suddenly broken by a looming tower, looking strangely warped against the gray-hued mat of slow-moving, rainless cloud. “Fuck me, Näsinneula tower,” said the teenage girl sitting across the aisle. She was wearing a turquoise crop-top which exposed a spray-tanned roll…...

from “When the Doves Disappeared”

1941 Tallinn The grain warehouses were burning, the sky grew columns of smoke. Buses, trucks and cars filled the roads, their worn tires screaming like the people were, screaming to get away. And then an explosion. Shrapnel. Shards of glass like a shower of rain. Juudit stood with her mouth open in a corner of her mother’s kitchen. Her mother had escaped to the countryside, to her sister Liia’s house, and left Juudit on her own to wait for the bombs, the bombs that would end everything.…...

from “Finnhits”

Are you completely sure I feel like listening? Have you thought it through carefully and concluded that on Friday at 4:54 PM I'm going to feel like taking in one more life story that starts deep in the bowels of the earth and ends in the heart of the city? Think again. It may be that I don't have space for any more stories, that my hard drive is already complaining. But if you're absolutely sure that your story is unique, lay it on me. Remember: keep it short. Cut it open like velvet…...

Gonçalo M. Tavares’s “A Man: Klaus Klump”

Gonçalo M. Tavares (Does the M stand for Man? Maniac? Master? Certainly not anything as common as Manuel . . .) is a writer that trades in oppositions. And business is good. High-low. Nature-technology. Man-woman. Alive-dead. All are as liquid currency in the not-so-free market of Tavares’s prose, most recently incarnated in A Man: Klaus Klump. The novel follows a would-be book publisher turned wartime revolutionary in some unidentified city likely set in eastern or central…...

Antonio Ungar’s “The Ears of the Wolf”

Usage of the phrase “wolf by the ears” was first attributed to the Roman emperor Tiberius by his biographer Suetonious: “The cause of his hesitation was fear of the dangers which threatened him on every hand, and often led him to say that he was ‘holding a wolf by the ears.’” The phrase was also used repeatedly in the context of precarious political situations by Thomas Jefferson, and though it may not be common enough to be considered a standard idiom, it feels…...

Page 1 of 138 pages  1 2 3 >  Last ›