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Interviews

New Yorker critic Merve Emre and WWB Books Editor Adam Dalva
The Act of Persuasion: A Conversation with Merve Emre
By Merve Emre & Adam Dalva
New Yorker critic Merve Emre and WWB Books Editor Adam Dalva talk about the 2022 International Booker Prize, recognition for translators, and her journey as a critic.
Multimedia
Portrait of Arinze Ifeakandu and Book Cover
Photo copyright © Bec Stupak Diop for Black Rock Senegal
A Complicated Relationship with Home
By Ucheoma Onwutuebe
Homophobia is everywhere. I didn’t realize I would grapple with it upon leaving Nigeria.
May-2022-City-and-Writer-Deepak-Unnikrishnan-Featured
Deepak Unnikrishnan. Photo © Philip Cheung.
The City and the Writer: In Abu Dhabi with Deepak Unnikrishnan
By Nathalie Handal
If there is one constant about this place, it is this, that the people on the move (here) all rely on a different set of lies to proceed with their truth(s).
Portrait of writer Marta Orriols
Photo copyright © Ariana Arnes
Writing the Universal
By Samantha Schnee
I think that people rediscovered reading in that period of calm when everything was standing still, and no one could go out or do anything.
Translated from Spanish by the author
A portrait of writer Miguel Syjuco
The City and the Writer: In Manila with Miguel Syjuco
By Nathalie Handal
Architectural gems crumble on street corners, shrouded in grit till they’re decreed too ugly to save.
April-2022-Arabic-Kid-Lit-Interview-Feature-Image
From left to right: Salwa Shakhshir, Miranda Beshara, and Mohamed Nabulsi.
The Present and Future of Arabic Kid Lit: A Conversation
By M. Lynx Qualey
There are many great Arabic children’s books that haven’t reached their young readers yet.
Portrait of writer and translator Nisha Susan
“Women with Highly Irregular Minds”
By Suhasini Patni
In all these years that I’ve spent writing in English, I’ve always felt that my leaning toward literariness was informed by Malayalam.
Transcending the Human Viewpoint
By Madeleine Feeny
I allowed myself to be very playful and unafraid, and to try everything.
March-2022-Triangle-Square-Interview-Ruth-Weiner-Featured
Ruth Weiner, publisher of Triangle Square Books for Young Readers. Photo © Eva Sotomayor.
Children’s Literature in Translation: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers
By The Editors of Words Without Borders
Answers aren’t always easy to come by in the real world when you’re a kid.
February-2022-Kristian-Sendon-Cordero-Interview-Kristian-Sendon-Cordero-Featured
Kristian Sendon Cordero. Photo copyright © Boyet Abrenica.
“The Varied Temperaments of Languages”
By Soleil Davíd
Not so many people think of the local languages as literary languages.
Febrary-2022-City-and-Writer-Fiona-Sampson
Fiona Sampson. Photo copyright © Ekaterina Voskresenskaya.
The City and the Writer: In London with Fiona Sampson
By Nathalie Handal
London, which seems all sprawl and braggadocio, is at the same time self-contained and fiercely defended.
Left, the book cover of Velorio. Right, a portrait of author Xavier Navarro Aquino.
Xavier Navarro Aquino. Photo copyright © Jayleen Santiago Díaz.
Breaking Language Open: Xavier Navarro Aquino on Writing Hurricane Maria in His Debut Novel
By Jacqui Cornetta
A multivoiced narrative was essential for the telling of the storm.
“The Joy of Cultural Mixing”: Daljit Nagra on Retelling the Classic Ramayana in Punglish
By Samantha Schnee
Humor was essential for my Ramayana.
Twelve Years Later, Kettly Mars Reflects on the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti and the Novels It Inspired
By Nathan H. Dize
The earthquake opened new sociopolitical avenues to be addressed in literary fiction.
Translated from French by the author
Becoming a “Second-Career” Translator: A Conversation with Aneesa Abbas Higgins
By Samantha Schnee
The experiences gained from a lifetime of reading and pursuing other professions are invaluable assets.
Mike Fu and Jenna Tang on Mentorship, Taiwanese Literature, and Translating Trauma
By Mike Fu & Jenna Tang
In 2021, Mike Fu and Jenna Tang worked together through the Emerging Translator Mentorship Program of the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA), with a focus on prose from Taiwan. Fu had published…
Spanish-language Writing in New York, Then and Now: An Interview with Esther Allen & Ulises Gonzales
By Words Without Borders Editors
While many Latinx writers work in English, there is a longstanding tradition of writers born or raised in this country who work in Spanish.
Telling the Stories of China’s “Illegal Children”: Shen Yang and Roseann Lake in Conversation
By Shen Yang & Roseann Lake
“Excess-birth” or “illegal” children (usually girls) were those born to a family who already had a child during the years when China’s one-child policy, in force from the…
The Poetry of Radical Female Fighters: Meena Kandasamy on Translating Women from the Tamil Eelam
By Suhasini Patni
Chennai-born Meena Kandasamy is an award-winning novelist and poet, best known for her book When I Hit You. She started translating at the age of eighteen and has worked on speeches and writings by activist…
The Privilege of Language: Manon Steffan Ros on Self-translation, Welsh Literature, and Her New Book
By Casi Dylan
Manon Steffan Ros was nervous about presenting Llyfr Glas Nebo to the world. Before it won the 2018 National Eisteddfod Prose Medal and the 2019 Wales Book of the Year, before it became a best seller,…
Children’s Literature in Translation: Gecko Press
By Words Without Borders
In recent years, a proliferation of books in translation for children and young adults has brought imaginative stories from around the world to new readers. We’re speaking with some of the extraordinary…
Carl de Souza on Mauritian History, Multilingualism, and the Events that Inspired “Kaya Days”
By Jeffrey Zuckerman
In the weeks after riots shook the seemingly tranquil island of Mauritius in 1999, the novelist Carl de Souza began writing a short, dense text that would become a nearly real-time depiction of that unreal…
Doves Wailing in the Same Great Tree: An Interview with Khalid al-Maaly, Founder of al-Kamel Verlag
By Safwan Khatib
Born in 1956, Khalid al-Maaly is an Iraqi poet, publisher, and translator. After leaving Iraq in 1979, in the wake of the Ba'ath regime's crackdown on leftists and intellectuals, he spent time…
Translated by Safwan Khatib
The Translator Relay: Jayme Costa Pinto
By Words Without Borders
WWB’s Translator Relay features an interview with a different translator every few months. The current month’s translator will choose the next interviewee, adding a different, sixth…
“The Wellspring That Relieves My Thirst”: Kim Bi on Writing Queer Literature
By Victoria Caudle
Kim Bi is one of South Korea's most prominent queer writers. She has published eight books, though only two of her stories, “Tree of Kisses” and “Transgender Basketball Club,”…
Translated by Victoria Caudle
“You Belong Nowhere”: Leïla Slimani on the Trauma of Colonialism and Her Forthcoming Novel
By Madeleine Feeny
Leïla Slimani is an international literary star, a poster-woman of French multiculturalism and a leading voice on human rights. Born in 1981 to a surgeon mother and economist father in Rabat, she…
Cabo Verdean President Jorge Carlos Fonseca: Poetry Is the Only Instrument of Radical Change
One of the surprising pleasures of the early pandemic was the development of my friendship with the Cabo Verdean writer Jorge Carlos Fonseca. In addition to being one of Lusophone Africa’s most…
“Language Is a Code”: Ali Feruz on Prison Literature, Exile, and the Power of Journalism
By José Vergara
During the January 2021 pro-Navalny demonstrations that swept Russia, hundreds of protestors were rounded up, brutalized, and jailed. Some of them ended up in the Sakharovo Detention Center for Foreign…
On Fantasy and the Poetry of the Past: An Interview with Sofia Samatar
By Safwan Khatib
Born in a small town in northern Indiana in 1971, Sofia Samatar is the author of the forthcoming memoir The White Mosque (Catapult Books, 2022). Her first novel, A Stranger in Olondria, for which she…
The Translator Relay: Karen Sherwood Sotelino
By Words Without Borders
WWB’s Translator Relay features an interview with a different translator every few months. The current month’s translator will choose the next interviewee, adding a different, sixth…
Power Resides within It: Louise Law Lok-Man and Jennifer Feeley on Hong Kong Literature
By Jennifer Feeley & Louise Law Lok-Man
In the wake of the anti-extradition protests in 2019 and the implementation of the National Security Law in June 2020, Hong Kong—and, consequently, its literature—has increasingly been in…
Portrait of writer Sinan Antoon
Photo © Koutaiba al-Janabi
The City and the Writer: In Baghdad with Sinan Antoon
By Nathalie Handal
I don’t live (t)here, but it lives in me still.
Subverting Gendered Language: Hannah Kauders on Translating Iván Monalisa Ojeda’s “Las Biuty Queens”
By Shoshana Akabas
In 2019, translator Hannah Kauders stumbled on a copy of Las Biuty Queens, the second book of short stories by Chilean writer Iván Monalisa Ojeda, and fell in love. Kauders immediately set out…
A Call to Break Boundaries: An Interview with the Editors of the Bilingual Indian Journal “Hakara”
By Varun Nayar
Among the many online literary and arts journals published in India, हाकारा । hākārā occupies a rather unique position, embedded in a strong linguistic…
Children’s Literature in Translation: Epigram Books
By Words Without Borders
In recent years, a proliferation of books in translation for children and young adults has brought imaginative stories from around the world to new readers. We’re speaking with some of the extraordinary…
Translating the World Undone: An Interview with Translator Nicholas Glastonbury
By Anton Hur
Last month, literary translator Nicholas Glastonbury, who translates from Turkish and Kurdish, posted a Twitter thread about the failings of the publishing industry when it comes to translated literature.…
A Poetry Revival: Three Poets on Ethiopia’s Thriving Amharic Poetry Scene
By Linda Yohannes
Published by Carcanet Press in the UK last year, Songs We Learn from Trees is the first book of Amharic poetry in English translation. Editors Chris Beckett and Alemu Tebeje, themselves poets and translators,…
Translating Hong Kong and Taiwan: A Conversation between May Huang and Jenna Tang
By May Huang & Jenna Tang
In this interview, translators Jenna Tang and May Huang discuss their experiences translating contemporary literature in Chinese from Taiwan and Hong Kong. Their conversation touches on the diversity…
The Translator Relay: Adam Morris
By Words Without Borders
WWB’s Translator Relay features an interview with a different translator every few months. The current month’s translator will choose the next interviewee, adding a different, sixth…
Children’s Literature in Translation: Groundwood Books
By Words Without Borders
In recent years, a proliferation of books in translation for children and young adults has brought imaginative stories from around the world to new readers. We’re speaking with some of the extraordinary…
Translation as a Collaborative Mode: An Interview with Sarah Booker
By Alexander Aguayo
I met Sarah Booker virtually in 2018 when she spoke with a graduate student reading group about translating Cristina Rivera Garza's The Iliac Crest. During her virtual visit, Booker…
“Every Choice We Make Is Political”: Natasha Lehrer on Translating “Consent” and “I Hate Men”
By Madeleine Feeny
Natasha Lehrer is a prize-winning literary translator from French to English. She recently translated Consent, Vanessa Springora’s memoir of her teenage relationship with the writer Gabriel Matzneff,…
Portrait of writer Ioana Morpurgo
The City and the Writer: In Bucharest with Ioana Morpurgo
By Nathalie Handal
I love this city against my own better judgment.
More Than a Literary Movement: Susana Sanches Arins and Valentim Fagim on Reintegrationist Galician
By Words Without Borders
WWB's March issue features writing from Galicia, an autonomous region of northwestern Spain that borders Portugal. Though the Galician language shares a common root with modern Portuguese, Galicia's…
Translated by Jacob Rogers
The Translator Relay: Julia Powers
By Words Without Borders
WWB’s Translator Relay features an interview with a different translator every few months. The current month’s translator will choose the next interviewee, adding a different, sixth…
Children’s Literature in Translation: Editora Caixote
In recent years, a proliferation of books in translation for children and young adults has brought imaginative stories from around the world to new readers. We’re speaking with some of the extraordinary…
Portrait of writer Natalie Bakopoulos
The City and the Writer: In Athens with Natalie Bakopoulos
By Nathalie Handal
I’m always a bit shattered by Athens.
“In Another Voice”: Kyra Ho on Creating a Poetry Translation Podcast
By Words Without Borders
In the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown, classmates Kyra Ho and Maria Goikhberg created In Another Voice, a podcast dedicated to poetry in translation. In less than a year, they have…
“A Generation Without Substitute”: Galicia’s Supernatural Grannies
By Alexander Aguayo
This month’s issue of Words Without Borders is graced by the art of Galician muralist Joseba Muruzábal, also known as Yoseba MP. The piece, Leiterofilia II, is one of a series of…
Translated from Spanish by Alexander Aguayo
Multilingual
Twenty Years of Île en île: A Conversation with Thomas C. Spear
By Words Without Borders
From 1998 until January 2021, Professor Thomas C. Spear edited Île en île, an extensive virtual archive of literature from French-speaking islands and their diasporas. Although there will…
A Wave in the Sea: Najwan Darwish on “Exhausted on the Cross”
By Kareem James Abu-Zeid
Born in Jerusalem, Najwan Darwish published his first poetry collection in 2000. He has since become one of the foremost contemporary Arab poets, and one of the most powerful poetic voices to emerge from…
Portrait of writer Christopher Bakken
The City and the Writer: In Thessaloniki with Christopher Bakken
By Nathalie Handal
Dig anywhere in the city and you collide with history.
María José Ferrada and Elizabeth Bryer on Translating “How to Order the Universe”
By Elizabeth Bryer
The precocious seven-year-old protagonist of María José Ferrada’s picaresque novel How to Order the Universe, referred to simply as “M,” is one of the most astute, enchanting,…
Translated by Elizabeth Bryer
The Flower and the Forest: An Interview with Evgeny Vodolazkin
By José Vergara
In Evgeny Vodolazkin’s literary universe, time is always out of joint. His novels feature medieval wanderers who glimpse events centuries in the future, narrative structures that contrast vastly…
“Reality (Unfortunately?) Varies”: A Conversation Between Galina Rymbu and Ilya Danishevsky
By Galina Rymbu
It seems to me—perhaps naively—that poetry has the ability to examine things in a maximally authentic way.
Translated from Russian by Anne O. Fisher & Helena Kernan
Guided by the Bees: Yamen Manai and Lara Vergnaud on Translating “The Ardent Swarm”
By Lara Vergnaud & Yamen Manai
As far as I can tell, The Ardent Swarm, out today with Amazon Crossing, is one of the first fictionalized accounts of a post-Arab Spring Tunisia to be published in English. In the novel, originally…
Children’s Literature in Translation: Tapioca Stories
By Words Without Borders
In recent years, a proliferation of books in translation for children and young adults has brought imaginative stories from around the world to new readers. We’re speaking with some of the extraordinary…
Lily Meyer and Mona Kareem Reflect on Close-Up: An Experiment in Reviewing Translation
By Words Without Borders
Today WWB concludes its series Close-Up: An Experiment in Reviewing Translation, in which Lily Meyer and Mona Kareem seek to develop and practice a translation-centric approach…
Portrait of writer Naivo
The City and the Writer: In Antananarivo, Madagascar, with Naivo
By Nathalie Handal
Its name, “the city of thousands,” is synonymous with multitude.
The Translator Relay: Sophie Duvernoy
By Words Without Borders
WWB’s Translator Relay features an interview with a different translator every few months. The current month’s translator will choose the next interviewee, adding a different, sixth…
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