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Nonfiction

In Other Words: A Foreword
I rather suspect that when Sofia Coppola made her movie Lost in Translation, she prayed that it might turn out to be, if nothing else, a succès d'estime. Had that turned out to be true, her…
Translated from English
from Portrait of M
By Matei Călinescu
Author's Note: This biographical portrait of my son, who was born on August 24, 1977, in Bloomington, Indiana, USA, and who died on March 1, 2003, in his native town, not yet twenty-six, was written…
Translated from Romanian by Angela Jianu
Sunset over Barren Mountains
Ha Jin has this to say about Gao Ertai's work: “Among numerous memoirs by Chinese authors, In Search of My Homeland stands out as an eloquent testimony to the violation and destruction of humanity.…
Translated from Chinese
Epistle on Cosmic Unification
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. Blessings upon our master, Muhammad, and upon his family and companions. . . . From my insufficiency to my perfection, and from my deviation to my…
Translated from Arabic
Of the Tree and its Four Birds
It is He who is revealed in every face, sought in every sign, gazed upon by every eye, worshipped in every object of worship, and pursued in the unseen and the visible. Not a single one of His creatures…
Translated from Arabic
What Is a Translator’s True Calling?
To begin answering one riddle, you first have to consider another. In this case, the riddling starts with me, a translator, and a story I have translated into English from a story Indian author Vijay…
Karbala as Court Case
Karbala is a medium-sized city in central Iraq, recently the scene of violent clashes between U.S. troops and Iraqi militants loyal to the young Shi'a cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. But for Shi'a Muslims…
Translated from Urdu
How to Read a Translation
By Lawrence Venuti
Among the many pronouncements that have shaped our understanding of literary translation, perhaps none is more often echoed than John Dryden’s preface to his version of the Aeneid. “I have…
Scots: The Auld an Nobill Tung
What is Scots? Is it Gaelic? A dialect of English? English with a Gaelic brogue? A hodgepodge of English and Gaelic? In fact, none of the above. Scots is “ane o the wee leids o Europe, ane o the…
from Conversations about Soldiers of Salamis
The following is an extract from Diálogos de Salamina: un paseo por el cine y la literatura (Tusquets, 2003), a book of conversations between Javier Cercas, author of Soldiers of Salamis, and David…
Translated from Spanish
from “Mew” instead of “Moo”
I should declare in a steady and powerful voice that the world itself is just a prolonged “mew,” which has been fried and served to us instead of a noble “moo.” -V. Khlebnikov…
Translated from Russian
On the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize
"It's a scandal." My companion, a distinguished translator of British literature into Greek, sighed and shook his head as we walked one night last summer through the tangle of streets that…
Basra Stories
I was born in Basra many times, in all of the stories that I heard about it-in the stories which were told around me when I was a child, in the images I formed of it during my first trips there with my…
Translated from Arabic
Witold Gombrowicz, and to Hell with Culture
Witold Gombrowicz is probably the most important twentieth-century novelist most Western readers have never heard of, which is to say that he is the kind of writer whose following consists largely of…
Climbing with Huberath
I was surprised to hear that Marek Huberath was a mountain climber in his spare time. I thought, “Maybe not a real mountain climber.” People do like to boast. He was achiever enough, not only…
from To the Person Leaving
I have emigrated three times in my life. In 1978, I emigrated from Argentina to come to France, because a military dictatorship had taken hold in my country. In 1999, I emigrated from France, where I'd…
Translated from Spanish
Co ecos Astri: Xul Solar of Buenos Aires
Xul said of himself: "I am maestro of a writing no one reads yet" and "I am world champion of a game no one knows." But Jorge Luis Borges, who was influenced by him, said: "Xul…
Translated from Spanish
from Before the End
1 I walk along the Avenida Costanera Sur,1 contemplating the portentous river, traversed just over a century ago by thousands of Spaniards, Italians, Jews, Poles, Albanians, Russians, and Germans, driven…
Translated from Spanish
from The Boundless River
By Juan José Saer
“Literary fanaticism, in any of its forms, whether from the point of view of master or disciple, has always been incompatible with the intelligence and free spirit of Saer.”—José Saramago
Translated from Spanish by Marina Harss
from Silence Has Its Sound: Travels through Bosnia
By Juli Zeh
Crossing the Serbian Republic's BorderMost of the Republika Srpska border is made of garbage—it seems the whole town of Stolac brings its trash here. I meet three oncoming cars in fifty kilometers.…
Translated from German by Gerald Chapple
The Culture of Translation
Throughout medieval Europe Arabic had a far more powerful impact on the transformation and shaping of culture than most narratives of our history reveal. This was true not only in Spain, where Arabic…
Playing Manto
I first encountered Saadat Hasan Manto by playing one of his characters. In 1994, I was doing fieldwork for an ethnographic thesis on social life in the Pakistani city of Lahore, where Manto lived, worked,…
How the Other Half Lives
After spending seven years in the U.S., I recently moved back to Seoul, the capitalist capital in the southern half of my divided country. When I arrived, both sides were preparing for the fiftieth anniversary…
Encountering North Korean Fiction: The Origins of the Future
By Stephen Epstein
The new year is dawning. The thought that we are entering the last year of the current century arouses a different feeling within me than usual. My heart is overwhelmed with emotion and my thoughts come…
Iran in Theater
Last summer in New York, two Iranian theatre events cracked open a small window on a dramatically alien world. Each made its impact without benefit of a text that could be comprehended by the audience;…
Translated from English
from Borderlines–The Return
In the summer of 1947 the flight to Athens, Greece, from New York's Idlewild Airport-my first flight anywhere-involved many hours of idleness both in the air and on sometimes remote runways along…
Iran as Cinema
By Salar Abdoh
The movie theater I found myself in was called Freedom; it stood on the corner of two main boulevards that, like the majority of streets in Tehran, are named after martyrs of the revolution: Martyr Beheshti,…
Translated from Farsi by Zara Houshmand
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