This week brings us two stories in translation. First, “Six Days in Glorious Vienna,” at Hobart, is a quiet story with a punch. By Japanese author Yoko Ogawa and translated by Stephen Snyder, the story is part of the anthology A Kind of Compass: Stories on Distance, released on Thursday by Irish publisher Tramp Press....more
Posts Tagged: translation
After reading the first two books in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series, Sara Goldsmith enlisted her mother to translate the third book from Italian so that she didn’t have to wait another year for the English release. Now, for Slate, Goldsmith shares how the experience generated a new respect for the scope and craft of Ferrante’s novels, as well as how the project influenced her relationship with her mother:
For my mom and me—who, like all mothers and daughters, sometimes have a difficult relationship—the novels have given us a way to stay in closer touch and a subject to return to and discuss.
No matter how many times you tell them not to, people will judge a book by its cover. This Italian publisher has capitalized on our weakness for pretty things with iconic cover art that toes the line between literature and fashion:
Italians have always known the importance of making una bella figura.
She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been alone with herself. Maybe never. It was always her–with others, and in these others she was reflected and the others were reflected in her. Nothing was–was pure, she thought without understanding what she meant.
This week, two underappreciated masters of the weird and uncanny are finally getting their due attention. That’s right, we’re talking about Clarice Lispector and Shirley Jackson, two literary powerhouses who wrote contemporaneously in different styles, different languages, even different hemispheres, but who have some striking similarities....more
We’ve noticed a new wave of love for Clarice Lispector recently, and so has Benjamin Anastas at The New Republic. With the new translation and release of a complete edition of her stories, Anastas outlines how Lispector has been given the “Bolaño treatment—and the global acclaim she has long deserved.”...more
Revise your summer reading lists, ladies and gentlemen, because this week brought us new issues of Guernica and Asymptote to bump to the top of the pile. Asymptote delivers more of its consistently stunning literature in translation, including a haunting story from the late Uruguayan author Mario Levrero about a very, very strange house....more
The dream of a global literary community is not new. But as globalization has not meant greater political or economic equality, cultural cosmopolitanism has not been guaranteed by instant communication and inexpensive travel. These do, however, present significant new opportunities for literary activism.
We here in the US are shitty. Also the rest of the world is shitty. Reading books in translation reminds us of this. The rest of the world is as shitty as we are, only it’s a different kind of shit, and the poets have different approaches to documenting and responding to the shit.
What’s one English word to sarcastically communicate Russian cosmopolitan refinement? How would you translate a page-long sentence from Tolstoy, or “the cacophonous competing voices of Dostoevsky”?
Larissa Volokhonsky and Richard Pevear (who have been married for 33 years) have translated over 30 works from Russian to English, beloved by readers worldwide (including Oprah) and praised for communicating the idiosyncrasies and styles of the original works....more
A god does not intervene. A mortal dies. Things happen repeatedly, then suddenly they differ. That rhythm of action, which combines repetition with asymmetry, is the rhythm of Homeric narrative and of the Homeric style. And it is designed to hold you in its spell as much as the rhythm of a line: the beat of repetition tells you this must happen, then, behold a wonder, it does not.
I think of the four elder statesmen of Norwegian letters as a bit like the Beatles: Per Petterson is the solid, always dependable Ringo; Dag Solstad is John, the experimentalist, the ideas man; Karl Ove Knausgaard is Paul, the cute one; and Fosse is George, the quiet one, mystical, spiritual, probably the best craftsman of them all.
On Monday, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction was awarded to Jack Livings for The Dog, a collection set in China in the last decades of the 20th century. What makes Livings’s stories remarkable isn’t just the tight prose and impressive research (he told the Wall Street Journal that he spent a year and a half reading oral histories from glassblowers and researching Mao Zedong’s embalming process for just one story), it’s that he managed to write about a foreign culture with nuance and depth and not mess it up....more
The percentage of literature in translation put out by British and American publishing houses is pretty dismal. Hispabooks, a new publishing company in Madrid, wants to bring the richness of Spanish literature to a wider audience through English translations....more
This poetry was a poetry meant to be read loudly, breathlessly, full-throttle, full of sonic energy and internal rhyme. It felt less like a communication from a speaker to a reader and more like sheet music for a reader to perform with their own voice.
China represents a huge marketplace for any product, and book publishers have finally caught on. More than 10,000 Chinese books were available at the Book Expo America. But as publishers race to embrace the Chinese market and bring Chinese authors to the West, censorship by the world’s largest authoritarian state represents a real challenge....more
Longreads gifts us newly translated fiction from Antonio Tabucci:
He must be almost ninety, he spends his afternoons gazing out the window at New York’s skyscrapers, a Puerto Rican girl comes each morning to tidy up his apartment, she brings him a dish from Tony’s Café that he reheats in the microwave, and after he listens religiously to the old Béla Bartók records that he knows by heart, he ventures out for a short walk to the entrance of Central Park, in his armoire, in a plastic garment bag, he preserves his general’s uniform, and when he returns from the park, he opens its door and pats the uniform twice on the shoulder, like he would an old friend, then he goes to bed, he’s told me he doesn’t dream, but if he does, it’s only of the sky over the Hungarian plains, he thinks that must be the effect of the sleeping pill an American doctor prescribed.
Tú, que asímismo
en la copa de tu verbo
desbordas el líquido.
Yo, que despeño tu grito...more
Asymptote Journal takes a look at some of the concerns translators have when confronting a politically problematic text. The choice of text is of course the first decision a translator faces—but the challenges translators confront aren’t necessarily limited to pushing a political agenda or avoiding it, but also with the nuances of language itself:
For a translator, not all words are created equal.