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PEN World Voices: 2005

April 2005

From April 16th through 23rd, one of the largest ever convocations of foreign writers in the US will be gathering around the hotel bars (not to mention the stages of venues both venerable and hip) of New York City, in a festival sponsored by PEN American Center and supported by donors as glamorous as Diane von Furstenburg. Can it be—translation is in vogue? Here at WWB, we’ve pulled together an extraordinary smorgasbord of newly translated work from eleven of these authors—from the crowd-pleasing comic absurdity of “Hair Tax” by Yoko Tawada and sly satire of “Hameed Nylon” by Fadhil Al-Azzawi to the sheer elegance of Antoine Audouard’s “Passage of Eden” to the linguistic ingenuity of Pedro Rosa Mendes’s “German Dolls” and the erotic haze of Oksana Zabuzhko’s “Girls.” Pure wit enables one woman to indulge a taste for freedom and sensuality in Hanan al-Shaykh’s “God, It’s as Though You’re Sewing a Dress for a Flea,” while a tense border-crossing keeps another trapped in political and romantic limbo in Anouar Benmalek’s “Feral Love.” For two sides of idealism, see Jakob Arjouni’s knowing take on philanthropic opportunism, “The Rudolf Family Does Good Works,” and Patrik Ouředník’s exploration of nineteenth-century utopian communities in “The Opportune Moment, 1855”; and for two views of Russia, see Svetlana Alexeivich’s Stalinist work camp survivor’s widow in “The Wondrous Deer of the Eternal Hunt” and Yuri Rytkheu’s Scottish sailor stranded in Siberia in “A Dream of Polar Fog.” Be sure to search our archives for PEN Festival authors previously published in WWB. We hope you’ll fall in love with many and travel to hear at least a few. If a visit to NYC is not an option, participate in one of our festival forums with renowned translators André Aciman, Esther Allen, and Lawrence Venuti, and come back to this space in May for streaming audio/video of some of the events.