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Nonfiction

Portrait of writer Moira Egan
Photo copyright © Eric Toccaceli
The City and the Writer: In Rome with Moira Egan
By Nathalie Handal
Moira Egan talks with Nathalie Handal about poetry and pandemonium in Rome.
A person pours tea into cups alongside pastries on a table
Photo copyright © Darren Byler
Translation as Transgression: Bringing the Uyghur Novel The Backstreets into English
By Darren Byler
Darren Byler pays tribute to his co-translator and friend A., with whom he collaborated on Uyghur novelist Perhat Tursun’s The Backstreets. A. is now presumed to be in a reeducation camp in Xinjiang.
Black and white image of Berlin's Potzdamer Platz in the 1930s.
Sludge G, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Toward a Vision of Post-COVID Urban Space: Joseph Roth’s City of Miniatures
By Alexander Wells
Reading Roth’s Berlin miniatures, a sense of the dynamic between sociability and justice feels essential to the urban experience.
Several books lined up in a row
Photo by Syd Wachs on Unsplash
Roll Call of Abandoned Languages
By J. R. Ramakrishnan
Empire made English my mother tongue—and the only one I have any real dominion over.
Sketch of Infernal Landscape by Hieronymus Bosch
Rik Klein Gotink and Robert G. Erdmann, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Seeking Shelter in Language
By Saudamini Deo
In English, Hindi, and Bangla—the languages I use daily—we spoke only of death and distress.
Black and white image of Puerto Rico's first openly gay poet Manuel Ramos Otero
Four Puerto Rican Poets Sing of Dust
By Cristina Pérez Díaz
Cristina Pérez Díaz writes about four Puerto Rican poets whose work operates in the constructions of queer bodies and of the nation.
Tarot cards from the Rider Waite Tarot deck
Photo by Viva Luna Studios on Unsplash
The Presentiment
By Emiliano Monge
I like to imagine that, in this defining moment, as my grandfather struggled with the dead man’s sinews, he was able to calm his rage for a moment and laugh.
Translated from Spanish by Frank Wynne
A silver Vespa parked on a cobblestone road
Photo by Enrico Carnemolla on Unsplash
Uncle Andrea
By Antonio Calgan
Hypocrite that I am, I never acknowledged my true self out of cowardice, out of fear of being misunderstood, and, more than anything else, because I thought if they knew what I was, they’d despise me.
Translated from Italian by Wendell Ricketts
The Milky Way is pictured above Earth's atmospheric glow blanketing Earth's horizon
Photo by NASA, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Czech Enough
By Jaroslav Kalfař
Home is an ever-changing aspiration, not a truth or guarantee.
Mirror over Water at Sunset
Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash
We Only Live Twice
By Adel Tincelin
The transworld was so beautiful, so vast! There was so much to explore!
Translated from French by Evan McGorray
Multimedia
Portrait of writer and translator André Naffis-Sahely
Photo copyright © Nina Subin
The City and the Writer: In Los Angeles with André Naffis-Sahely
By Nathalie Handal
It’s sun-kissed, industrial, god-fearing, gas-guzzling, all of it built on a harrowing history of lynch mobs and expropriation.
Score of Anold Schoenberg's Transfigured Night
Outside Music
By Hernán Bravo Varela
Anything audible can be remembered.
Translated from Spanish by Robin Myers
Multimedia
whitewashed exterior of santo crist crhuch in veracruz mexico
© Alejandro Borbolla. Used under Creative Commons license.
Life’s Not Worth A Thing
By Fernanda Melchor
He was as cool as ice, the blue-eyed motherfucker even offered us a drink.
Translated from Spanish by Sophie Hughes
Portrait of Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk
Photo copyright © Karpati&Zarewicz/ZAiKS
Ognosia
By Olga Tokarczuk
We will need new maps as well as the courage and humor of travelers who won’t hesitate to stick their heads outside the sphere of the world-up-to-this-point, beyond the horizon of existing dictionaries and encyclopedias.
Translated from Polish by Jennifer Croft
New Yorker critic Merve Emre and WWB Books Editor Adam Dalva
Launch Event: Celebrate the New WWB with Merve Emre
Join us Wednesday, June 8, at 6 PM ET as New Yorker critic Merve Emre talks with WWB Books Editor Adam Dalva about her journey as a critic and the2022 International Booker Prize. Registration is free.
Woman reading book with bookshelves and colorful book spines behind her
The New Words Without Borders: The Future of Reading the World
By the Editors
Nearing its twentieth anniversary, the premier publication for international literature reimagines what is to come.
L Blog Post Dominican Self Portrait Graffiti Featured Image
A Dominican “Self-Portrait” to Inspire Students’ Self-Reflections
By Nadia Kalman
Which experiences have a greater influence on us—our successes, or the times when we've been hurt?
Welcome to the New Words Without Borders
By Karen M. Phillips
We couldn't be more excited about our new, state-of-the-art home for international literature.
The Story of a Notebook
By Sergio Chejfec
One is drawn toward handwritten manuscripts because, unlike more mediated forms of writing (whether produced by typewriters, word processors, or automatic transcription tools), they alone retain the signs of hesitation.
Translated from Spanish by Jeffrey Lawrence
March-2022-Elena-Rigby-Beatlemania-Neapolitan-The-Shampoo-Album-Cover
Cover for The Shampoo's album In Naples.
Elena Rigby
By Peppe Fiore
The microphones of Radio Antenna Capri are rapt witnesses to a minor page of modern history—even if the chapter of history in question is the saga of the Neapolitan gasconade, not the annals of the pop beat.
Translated from Italian by Antony Shugaar
A baby doll sits by a window
Photo by Jay Mistry on Unsplash
The Lost Translator
By Michael F. Moore
It is all the more disturbing, then, that neither Gyllenhaal in her interviews nor the film’s end credits or press kit makes any mention of the translator whose work was the basis for the script: Ann Goldstein.
A glowing diamond with light radiating from it
Photo by kirklai on Unsplash
We Need More Speculative Fiction in Translation
By Rachel Cordasco
Despite this recent wave of SFT, there are still a number of barriers preventing more of it from going mainstream in the Anglophone world.
Various wooden letter blocks
Photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash
9 Writers to Read on International Mother Language Day
By the Editors of Words Without Borders
We highlight 9 writers working in their heritage languages, from Galician and Cebuano to Guaraní and Kaaps.
Multimedia
A watercolor of a middle-aged woman from the shoulders up
An image from Igort's "The Story of Serafima Andreyevna," translated by Jamie Richards.
Voices from Ukraine: A Reading List
By the Editors of Words Without Borders
While some of this writing engages directly with the country's history of armed conflict with Russia, the majority addresses more quotidian themes
Words Without Borders Campus Launches Korean Literature Resource
WWB Campus presents a collection of Korean literature and accompanying resources for high school and college classrooms.
Words Without Borders Receives 2022 National Endowment for the Arts Grant
New York, New York, January 12, 2022—The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has just announced that it will distribute more than $28 million in support of 1,248 arts and cultural organizations…
An International Menagerie: Animal Stories
By Susan Harris
Some of the animals here possess the power of speech, deploying it to often subversive ends.
Calvin Baker Joins WWB Board of Directors
By Words Without Borders
Words Without Borders is pleased to announce the election of acclaimed author Calvin Baker to its Board of Directors. “I am a great admirer of Calvin’s writing. A brilliant writer…
Nuestra Ciudad: Writing the City in Spanish
By Ulises Gonzales
Today, a young writer working in Spanish arrives in New York City to find no shortage of role models.
Introducing WWB’s Education Fellow, Allison Tim
By Words Without Borders
We're pleased to welcome Allison Tim as the first-ever WWB education fellow. Allison is a writer, photographer, and budding filmmaker. After graduating from Macalester College with…
Soleil Davíd
Introducing WWB’s Editorial Fellow, Soleil Davíd
By Words Without Borders
I see translation as a way for me to engage with one facet of my country’s literature, a hopefully productive excuse to read works in Tagalog and Bikol.
The Literary Life of K-pop Lyrics
By Sang Young Park
I’d accumulated what is surely the biggest collection of gem-like K-pop lyrics in the world.
Translated by Anton Hur
This Language Called Kaaps: An Introduction
By Olivia M. Coetzee
Language is more than just a method of communication. It is about the ability to lay down roots, to settle into an identity, to have a place in history, in the present, and in the future. Language is…
Introducing WWB’s New Books Editor, Adam Dalva
By Words Without Borders
We’re pleased to welcome Adam Dalva as the new books editor of Words Without Borders.Adam’s writing has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, and the Paris…
The Voices of Contact Languages in Asia: An Introduction
By Stefanie Shamila Pillai
For multilingual writers, choosing to write in their heritage languages can be seen as an expression of agency, an active choice to communicate in a nondominant language.
Juan Gabriel Vásquez: Fiction as the News
By Juan Gabriel Vásquez
Like most Colombians, I had several close encounters with “chaos” during those years.
“The Age of Kishore”: Jeff Deutsch Celebrates Seagull Books Founder and Publisher Naveen Kishore
By Jeff Deutsch
Last night, Naveen Kishore, the founder and publisher of Seagull Books, received the 2021 Ottaway Award for the Promotion of International Literature. At the celebratory cocktail reception in New…
The Winners of the 2021 Words Without Borders—Academy of American Poets Poems in Translation Contest
By the Editors of Words Without Borders
This prize-winning translation haunts.
PEN International Celebrates 100 Years
By Joanne Leedom-Ackerman
PEN members today not only gather for literary events in their home countries and internationally but also defend writers and the freedom to write worldwide.
Announcing the Winners of the 2021 Poems in Translation Contest
By the Editors of Words Without Borders
As a pandemic defined by isolation stretches ever onward, our third Poems in Translation Contest brought together 606 poems from 327 poets and 79 countries, translated from 61 languages. We are thrilled…
The Slow Burn of Inner Chaos: Six Works in Translation from Malaysia
By Pauline Fan & Adriana Nordin Manan
The sense of slipping slowly into chaos is an everyday reality here.
Naveen Kishore, Renowned Publisher of Seagull Books, to Receive 2021 Ottaway Award
By Words Without Borders
We are pleased to announce that Naveen Kishore, publisher and founder of Seagull Books in Kolkata, will receive the 2021 Words Without Borders Ottaway Award for the Promotion of International Literature.“In…
Introducing WWB’s Digital Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Bruna Dantas Lobato
By Words Without Borders
We’re pleased to welcome Bruna Dantas Lobato as WWB’s digital marketing and communications coordinator. Bruna is a Brazilian writer and literary translator whose writing has…
“A Scream That Can No Longer Be Held In”: Translating Rahma Nur’s “Linguistic Threads”
By Candice Whitney, Alta L. Price & Barbara Ofosu-Somuah
Linguistic threads. IV lines and blood cells. Oppressive silencing. There is a viscerality that emerges when sitting with Rahma Nur’s poem “Fili Linguistici.” In describing her experience as…
Afro-Italian Women in Translation: An Introduction
By Candice Whitney, Barbara Ofosu-Somuah, Aaron Robertson, Hope Campbell Gustafson
What is national literature and how is it defined? Often, when one thinks of a particular nation or language, they imagine a specific phenotype tied to a historical narrative. A cursory Google search…
An empty playground with a merry go round
Photo by Loegunn Lai on Unsplash
My Home Is Where I Am
By Igiaba Scego
Somali-Italian writer Igiaba Scego recalls her childhood experiences in the Italian educational system in this memoir.
Translated from Italian by Aaron Robertson
We Cried a River of Laughter
By Marie Moïse
Writer Marie Moïse describes her search for her roots and traces her family’s history of cross-Atlantic displacement.I spent my youth seeking to recover my roots, which were severed by migration…
Translated from Italian by Barbara Ofosu-Somuah
Who Translates?
By the Editors of Words Without Borders
In the wake of 2020’s racist violence, and subsequent organizing by the Black Lives Matter movement and others to combat white supremacy, literary magazines and publishers everywhere have, to differing…
The Great White Canceling
By Anton Hur
Translator Anton Hur takes a wry look at race and translation in this essay.You’re a white translator. I come into your home office and break your computer. I run a bath and drown all your…
Privilege, Race, and Translation
By Corine Tachtiris
Scholar and translator Corine Tachtiris reflects on the inherent privilege of translating while White in this essay.And if there are few Black translators, there are few representatives of the possibility…
Barriers, Privileges, and Invisible Labor: A Sino Diaspora Translator’s Perspective
By Yilin Wang
Translator Yilin Wang addresses various forms of bias in translation from Asian Languages in this essay.“You must teach yourself how to carry loan words,tiny seeds gift-wrapped like hand-me-down heirlooms…
Reckonings: The Queer Issue XII
By Susan Harris
This year we celebrate Pride Month with seven pieces depicting Queer characters confronting decisive moments.
A dark door cracked open to reveal bright red light
Photo by Dima Pechurin on Unsplash
Yun-Fan: Singing the Variety of Queer Life
By Wanning Chen
When I was twenty-three, I met my first girlfriend, who then went off with a man after just four months—and eventually married him.
Translated from Chinese by Jeremy Tiang
Movement and Stasis
By July Blalack
Mauritanian literature foregrounds characters on the move.
Double portrait of writer Jhumpa Lahiri
Where I Find Myself
By Jhumpa Lahiri
I have come to think of any “definitive text” largely the same way that I think of a mother tongue, at least in my case: an inherently debatable, perpetually relative concept.
The Thrill of Reading Obliviously
By J. R. Ramakrishnan
A translated work’s pitch is aided by comparisons.
The Comparison Game
By Laurence Laluyaux
This game of comparisons, while not always accurate, can open doors and be thought-provoking.
Why Must Two Works be Compared at All?
By Saudamini Deo
Why must two works be compared at all?
The Incomparable Ones
By Juan Milà
It is essential that we understand comps and are aware of their limitations.
On the Periphery
By Larissa Kyzer
The scope of the topics explored in this issue is, therefore, necessarily broad without being comprehensive.
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