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May, 2015

2015 Man Booker International Prize Finalists at Words without Borders

The Man Booker International Prize, given every two years, recognizes writers whose work as appeared in English or been translated into English for literary achievement over the duration of their careers.  Among the eight finalists for the 2015 Man Booker Prize International who write in a language other than English, six have been published in Words without Borders. In the days leading up to the May 19 winner announcement, we bring you short interviews with the many of the finalists…...

The Translator Relay: Tess Lewis

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 May's installment, Donald Nicholson-Smith passed the baton to Tess Lewis, who is a translator from French and German, in addition to being an essayist and critic. Her translations include works by Peter Handke, Alois Hotschnig, Doron Rabinovici, Pascal Bruckner, E. M. Cioran, Jean-Luc Benoziglio, Anselm Kiefer, and Klaus…...

My Favorite Bookstore: Yardenne Greenspan on Halper’s Books

Halper's Books, 87 Allenby Street, Tel Aviv, Israel 65134 A path emerges from the busy, smoky, sooty Allenby Street in southern Tel Aviv, leading to a yard fenced in by bookcases. The books in the yard are mostly in French, but the ones inside the shop are in Hebrew and English, too. Tel Aviv’s shouting and honking, the outdoor bars and discount clothing stores, the black exhaust dust that stains your feet, the heaving buses—these are all left behind when you step inside. The hushed…...

The Week in Translation

GO what: Best Translated Book Awards, hosted by Chad Post when: Wednesday, May 27, 2:30pm where: Eastside Stage, Javits Center, NYC more info: http://ow.ly/No4uU what: China-America Literary Symposium 2015: Reading Contemporary China when: Wednesday, May 27, 5:30-8:30pm where: SUNY's Confucius Institute for Business  more info: http://ow.ly/N4oI2 what: Chinese and American Poetry Reading when: Saturday, May 30, 1pm where: Bowery Poetry, 308 Bowery, NYC more info: http://ow.ly/No42j…...

Karel Schoeman’s “This Life”

South African author Karel Schoeman has repeatedly acknowledged his debt to British writer L. P. Hartley's famous dictum that "the past is a foreign county: they do things differently there," though Schoeman's concern is less with the behaviors of his country’s inhabitants, and more with the difficulty involved in traveling to its shores. Indeed, he writes early in this novel: "Die verlede is 'n ander land; waar is die pad wat soontoe loop?" ("The past is another country; where…...

2015 Man Booker International Prize Questionnaire: Hoda Barakat

Hoda Barakat was born in Beirut in 1952 and brought up in Bsharré, Lebanon. She has worked in teaching and journalism, and has published five novels, two plays, a book of short stories and a book of memoirs, as well as contributing to books written in French. Her work has been translated into a number of languages. She has received critical acclaim in the Arab world and abroad and was awarded the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature for her novel The Tiller of Waters and the…...

2015 Man Booker International Prize Questionnaire: Ibrahim al-Koni

Born in 1948 in Ghadames Oasis, Ibrahim al-Koni was brought up on the tradition of the Tuaregs, popularly known as "the veiled men" or "the blue men." Mythological elements, spiritual quest, and existential questions mingle in the writings of al-Koni, who has been hailed as magical realist, Sufi fabulist, and poetic novelist. Words without Borders: For those who will read you in the English translation, what advice would you give? Ibrahim al-Koni: I advise my English readers not…...

2015 Man Booker International Prize Questionnaire: Katherine Silver

Katherine Silver is an award-winning translator of literature from Spanish and is the co-director of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre (BILTC) in Alberta, Canada. Her most recent translations include works by Martín Adán, Daniel Sada, Horacio Castellanos Moya, César Aira, Rafael Bernal, Jorge Luis Borges, and Marcos Giralt Torrente.  Words without Borders: It must be gratifying to see the writer you translate honored as a finalist for the Man Booker.…...

2015 Man Booker International Prize Questionnaire: Michiel Heyns

Michiel Heyns attended school in South Africa, in Thaba Nchu, Kimberley, and Grahamstown, and studied at the universities of Stellenbosch (B.Comm., MA, D. Litt.) and Cambridge (MA). He served as professor of English at Stellenbosch University from 1987 until 2002, when he took early retirement to be a full-time author. He lives in Somerset West, South Africa, and is the author of four novels: The Children's Day, The Reluctant Passenger, The Typewriter's Tale, and Bodies…...

2015 Man Booker International Prize Questionnaire: William Maynard Hutchins

William Maynard Hutchins (b.1944) was the principal translator of The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz. He has been awarded National Endowment for the Arts grants for literary translation for both 2005-2006 and 2011-2012, each time for a different novel by Ibrahim al-Koni. His recent translations include Hasan Nasr, Return to Dar al-Basha (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2006); Fadhil al-Azzawi,The Last of the Angels (Cairo & New York: The American University in Cairo…...

Max Blecher’s “Adventures in Immediate Irreality”

It seems to me unfortunate that the critical reaction to Max Blecher’s incandescent Adventures in Immediate Irreality has been, if largely adulatory, also hampered by a certain name-the-influence conceit, as if the mere act of situating the Romanian writer’s work could somehow unlock its textual enigmas or mitigate its astonishing power. Indeed, it would appear that to write about Blecher is, in some sense, to write about a broad swath of European modernists in a game of contextual one-upmanship.…...

2015 Man Booker International Prize Questionnaire: Marilyn Booth

Marilyn Booth is the Khalid bin Abdullah Al Saud Professor of the Study of the Contemporary Arab World at the University of Oxford, and a Governing Body Fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford. In 2014-15 she was Senior Humanities Research Fellow at New York University Abu Dhabi, and prior to that held the Iraq Chair in Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Her most recent book is Classes of Ladies of Cloistered Spaces: Writing Feminist History through Biography in Fin-de-siècle…...

The Week in Translation

GO what: China-America Literary Symposium 2015: Reading Contemporary China when: Wednesday, May 27, 5:30-8:30pm where: SUNY's Confucius Institute for Business  more info: http://ow.ly/N4oI2 SUBMIT what: The Guardian's 2015 Stephen Spender Prize for Poetry in Translation submission deadline: May 22, 2015 more info: http://ow.ly/HWpxQ APPLY   what: ALTA Travel Fellowships when: ALTA 2015: Translation & Traffic (Oct. 28-31, 2015) where: Tucson, AZ application deadline:…...

2015 Man Booker International Prize Questionnaire: Maryse Condé

Maryse Condé was born in Guadeloupe in the French Caribbean. She studied at the Université de Paris III (Sorbonne Nouvelle), where she took her doctorate in comparative literature (1975). Her research was on black stereotypes in Caribbean literature. For twelve years, she lived in West Africa: Guinea, Ghana, and Senegal, where she taught French at various levels. She returned to France in 1973 to teach Francophone literature at Paris VII (Jussieu), X ( Nanterre ), and III (Sorbonne…...

2015 Man Booker International Prize Questionnaire: Richard Philcox

Richard Philcox is the translator of 2015 Man Booker Prize International finalist Maryse Condé and Franz Fanon. Words without Borders: It must be gratifying to see the writer you translate honored as a finalist for the Man Booker. What is it that drew you, as a translator, to the writer's work? Richard Philcox: It started as a labor of love and then developed into a translation of our travels in Africa, the Caribbean, and the US. WWB: Can you tell us about a particular challenge/problem you've…...

PEN World Voices Festival As It Happened: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Freedom to Write Lecture

For complete coverage of the 2015 PEN World Voices Festival, click here It’s no small coincidence that this year’s PEN World Voices Festival theme was “On Africa.” Given the films celebrated at this week’s African Film Festival, and the literature, food, fashion, and striking visual arts coming out of Africa today, the continent really does seem to be entering a renaissance. It’s also no coincidence that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie delivered this year’s…...

PEN World Voices Festival As It Happened: Translation Bloggers

Blogger Michael Orthofer grew up reading book reviews in print newspapers and admiring the variety of books written by authors around the world. But throughout the mid-90s and early 2000s, he noticed less and less space was being devoted to reviews, especially of books by international authors. At Albertine bookstore on Saturday, May 9, Orthofer was one of four bloggers who talked about his blog, his work, and the importance of online reviews. Sal Robinson, co-founder of the Bridge reading series, moderated…...

2015 Man Booker International Prize Questionnaire: George Szirtes

George Szirtes is a poet and translator. He was born in Budapest in 1948 and came to England as a refugee in 1956, following the Hungarian Uprising. His thirteen books of poetry, which include New and Collected Poems (2008), have won the Faber Prize, the Cholmondeley Award, and a number of other awards. His 2004 book Reel was awarded the T S Eliot Prize. He has also won various prizes as a translator of poetry and fiction from the Hungarian. His earlier translations from…...

2015 Man Booker International Prize Questionnaire: László Krasznahorkai

László Krasznahorkai was born in 1954. He gained considerable recognition in 1985 when he published Satantango which he later adapted for the cinema in collaboration with the filmmaker Bela Tarr.  In 1993, he received the German Bestenliste Prize for the best literary work of the year for The Melancholy of Resistance and has since been honoured with numerous literary prizes, amongst them the highest award of the Hungarian state, the Kossuth Prize. Krasznahorkai…...

The City and the Writer: In Cochabamba with Rodrigo Hasbún

Special Series/The Palestinians 2015 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 Cochabamba as you feel/see it? Cochabamba is a mellow city, a city that still retains its small-town spirit, depsite…...

PEN World Voices Festival As It Happened: Women’s Voices in Translation

Saturday afternoon, writers, translators, editors, and publishers, gathered above Albertine bookstore to discuss the gender bias in literary translations published in the United States. “Where are the women authors in translation?” the panel of experts wanted to know—and considering the packed room facing Central Park on a sunny spring day, they were not alone. In fact, the central question of this consciousness-raising meeting has been publically posed various times in recent…...

PEN World Voices Festival As It Happened: “Édouard Glissant: Everything Scatter, Scatter”

The celebration of the late Martinican poet, writer, and cultural commentator began as moderator Christopher Winks set the room in a trance by reading some of Édouard Glissant’s poetry in its original French. Winks admitted that there is no panel that can sufficiently excavate the life and work of Glissant. However, the goal of this one was to illuminate and debate some of the key aspects present in Glissant’s work. Panelists included Kaiama L. Glover, Achille Mbembe, and Véronique…...

PEN World Voices Festival As It Happened: “Headscarves and Hymens”

Photo: Beowulf Sheehan/PEN American Center Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution is the title of Mona Eltahaway’s new book, described by the publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux as “a passionate manifesto decrying misogyny in the Arab world.” Eltahaway, an Egyptian American journalist, activist, and fearless advocate for human rights, discussed the book with Robin Morgan at the Crosby Hotel in SoHo on May 9. The event lived up to its bold title. Morgan…...

PEN World Voices Festival As It Happened: “In and Out of Africa”

Photo: Molly Leon/PEN American Center Regular attendees at PEN World Voices know that the advertised theme of a panel may have little relation with what you end up hearing from the participants. The more participants there are, the more this may be true. “In and Out of Africa,” held at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse, featured eight African authors on one stage, with three moderators to keep things more or less on track. The authors included Adéwálé Àjàdí…...

PEN World Voices Festival As It Happened: “The Arrivants”

Photo: Beowulf Sheehan/PEN Word Voices Festival of International Literature To celebrate Kamau Brathwaite’s The Arrivants, Teju Cole, Nathalie Handal, and Binyavanga Wainaina spoke about the poet’s life and read from his work. The discussion was moderated by Brent Hayes Edwards at the Crosby Street Hotel on Wednesday, May 6. The conversation began with Edwards giving some background information about Brathwaite’s life and how he came to write the poems in The Arrivants. Brathwaite…...

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