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The Seven Deadly Sins

January 2008

Vice and virtue clash daily round the world, and while the definition of sin may vary, its literary allure is universal. Perhaps that’s because no matter how easy we think moral failings are to finger, in actuality their elusiveness on the page is what makes for the stuff of great literature. “It’s so easy to forget . . . ” says a former student of an envious teacher; yet do moral failings arise because it’s easy to forget, or because it’s even easier to harbor and remember? Maya Arad, Roberto Bolaño, Lars Saabye Christensen, Doris Kareva, Danilo Kiš, Mathieu Lindon, Sérgio Rodrigues, Kjell Westo, and Yan Lianke put envy, greed, pride, sloth, gluttony, anger, and lust to thought-provoking ends for the New Year.

The Many Masks of Max Mirebelais
By Roberto Bolaño
His real name was probably Max Mirebalais, although we will never know for sure.
Translated from Spanish by Chris Andrews
From “Serve the People!”
By Yan Lianke
The wheat pointed to the glorious future: of glorious harvests in the glorious times to come once Communism had been realized.
Translated from Chinese by Julia Lovell
The Man Who Killed the Writer
By Sérgio Rodrigues
First things first: I didn’t write the book everyone thinks I wrote, the one that has been showering me with fame and riches since its publication, just over one year go.
Translated from Portuguese by Fernanda Abreu
The Pig
By Lars Saabye Christensen
Asbjørn Hall didn’t argue….He’d never argued.
Translated from Norwegian by Kenneth Steven
The Robot
By Danilo Kiš
No one was surprised by his arrival.
Translated from Serbian by John K. Cox
From “Seven Moral Failings”
By Maya Arad
Now was the time to ask for a recommendation from David.
Translated from Hebrew by Jeffrey M. Green
The Trial of Jean-Marie Le Pen
By Mathieu Lindon
Shouldn’t the leader of the National Front be held responsible for the murder committed by one of his brainwashed teenaged supporters?
Translated from French by Ann Smock
“Idleness Is Often Empowering . . . “
By Doris Kareva
Idleness is often empowering,
Translated from Estonian by Tiina Aleman
The Referee
By Kjell Westö
He had felt restless all autumn, but without understanding why.
Translated from Finland-Swedish by Roy Hodson
By David Huerta
Twelve knots are losing patience around the eyebrows / of the year to come.
Translated from Spanish by John Oliver Simon
From “Agaat”
By Marlene van Niekerk
The first time you slept with Jak was the day after he came to declare his intentions to your parents.
Translated from Afrikaans by Michiel Heyns
The Last Farm Novel?: An Interview with Michiel Heyns
By Dedi Felman
I met Michiel Heyns—author, translator, and professor of English at Stellenbosch University from 1987 until 2003—last year when he was here in the U.S. as a visiting professor at the University of Tulsa,…