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November, 2008

A Treaty of Love

After my trip to Lebanon in the spring of 2007, I traveled to London to interview the Lebanese-Palestinian author Samir El-Youssef. El-Youssef has a beautiful and contagious laugh. That was the first thing I noticed over lunch in a Lebanese restaurant. The second thing that became clear was that...

October, 2008

My Book Party in Eupen

In September my new novel was published in the Netherlands. The book launch seems to have become an inevitable part of the publication of a new book, at least in the Netherlands. A publisher in the U.S. once explained to me that book launches were considered a waste of money, but that if I wanted...

A Feast for Readers: Eid Specials in Bangladesh

The last morning of September, I learn that the Daily Star's Eid Literature Special has come out. It includes a personal essay from me, so I head out for a nearby newspaper vendor. He's at Farmgate, fifteen minutes away. On my walk I notice many shops are shuttered. People are vacating the...

Le Clezio wins Nobel

In a decision that none of our in-house bookmakers called, French author J. M. G. Le Clezio has won this year's Nobel Prize for Literature. Dig into the WWB archives for a look at his work, in this excerpt from his book Wandering Star

Words with Borders…and Borders and Borders

With regrets for the delay in commenting on this, here's an interesting piece from the New York Times on the complicated and often confounding interplay of language, culture and politics in the Caucasus. It's an intriguing look at the fate of the lingua franca that falls out of grace, and provides...

Mahmoud Darwish Tribute on the Bowery

A tribute to the late Mahmoud Darwish will be held at the Bowery Poetry Club this Sunday, October 5th at 1:30 PM. Readers will include Breyten Breytenbach, Pierre Joris, Ammiel Alcalay, Ghassan Nasr, Danae Elon, Bob Holman and others. Admission is free, and we encourage all the New Yorkers and...

The 2008 Nobel Prize in Literature: Our Office Pool

Between the World Cup and the World Series comes high season for world literature: time to place your bets on this year's candidates for the Nobel Prize in Literature. You can read two of the usual suspects, Adonis and Ko Un, right here, as well as 1988 laureate Naguib Mahfouz and, of course, any...

On the Passing of Ahmed Faraz

It would be accurate to say that Faraz was the most famous and beloved twentieth-century Urdu poet from the subcontinent, after Iqbal(1877-1938) and Faiz (1911-1984). He may even be the most sung or popular among his contemporaries in any South Asian language. This is no small feat, since many of...

Imagination Can Take You Everywhere

All work and no play describes my summer this year. So I headed for the Arts Club in Mayfair with delight to celebrate the publication of Andrew Logan: An Artistic Adventure. One of the first

September, 2008

Jabuti Prize for Tezza’s “Eternal Son”

WWB author Cristovão Tezza has won the prestigious Jabuti Prize for his book The Eternal Son. You can read an excerpt from the book in our September issue, over here Our heartiest congratulations to him!

2009 Susan Sontag Prize for Translation

Translators under 30, this is for you: The Susan Sontag Foundation has announced its annual prize for translation, with a cash award of $5,000. This year the call is for work translated from Spanish into English. You can find more details on applying at the website, and look at the winners of...

Truth and War Literature

As of Monday September 8, I've been teaching at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. Not forever, thank God, just for one semester. One course that I'm teaching side-by-side with a philosopher is about Plato's Symposium. I'm not a Plato specialist, and neither is the philosopher....

Yalo Discussion Forum

Have a comment you'd like to add to the discussion? Add it below. Comments are moderated and may take a while to appear on the forum.

August, 2008

On Mahmoud Darwish

In an earlier post, I raised the issue of the dearth of translations done of intellectual and critical writing from Arabic (and most of the other languages of the world). The translation of poetry also presents special problems. Poetry is central to literary culture in Arabic and has been so...

An Invisible Cabal in the Sky

On August 7th, Russia responded to a Georgian attack on the capital of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, with a massive deployment of troops across the border and attacks on the Georgian cities of Gori and Poti. This open act of aggression brought an end to the "frozen conflict" between the countries that...

Reading Gregor von Rezzori

A Dutch newspaper asked me to review the recently published Dutch translation of Gregor von Rezzori's Memoirs of an Anti-Semite. I have to admit that the name Rezzori vaguely rang a bell, but that was about it. He is much better known in the US, where Memoirs of an Anti-Semite was published in the...

Mahmoud Darwish, 1941-2008

Mahmoud Darwish is dead. The great poet of Palestinian displacement died in a Houston hospital after open-heart surgery. In a poem in his 2006 "Diary," Darwish writes, If you were told: you're going to die here this evening What would you do in the remaining time? ... I realize how my...

July, 2008

Emails from Colombia

The past few weeks I have been in a fascinating email dialogue with Hernan Torres, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the Universidad del Cauca in Popayán, Colombia. Previously a Fulbright Scholar and Research Fellow at Washington University in St Louis, he is now in charge of editing...

Writing the Train in Switzerland

Last summer, I worked for almost three weeks as a chambermaid in a family hotel in the southern part of Bavaria. I wrote about this experience in a daily column for a Dutch newspaper. Later, an extract of these columns was published in the US in Culture + Travel magazine. My objective was not...

A Kind of Farewell

Over the past months, I've been living in Cairo and posting regularly about the local literary scene to this blog. In a matter of days, perhaps even by the time this is posted, I'll be back in Texas, and will have traded in the fast lane life of blogging from the big metropolis for my...

Waltic on the Baltic

Last week over six hundred Writers and Literary Translators (WALT) convened in Stockholm for the inaugural International Congress (IC). Over ninety countries were represented by writers speaking—and writing—in a variety of languages. Taking its cue from the UN's Declaration of Human...

June, 2008

Walser and the Visual Arts

Post your thoughts on Walser or The Assistant below. Comments are moderated, and will appear after a very short delay, so avoid posting twice if you notice that your post doesn't appear immediately. Comment here on Tom Whalen's "Composition for Robert Walser" as well as Sam Jones's interviews...

Muhammad al Sharafi, “Changing Veils”, “Literacy Through Poetry”

And here I am, behind my cloak An ardent hope and a burning fever I thirst for meeting with you,     My beloved But there is my veil, my curse, O my beloved....

The Future of Literature

Two days after I left Iraq, I traveled to a small resort at the Black Sea for a writer's conference about the future of literature. For some reason it seemed to me the right sequence: first Baghdad and then a conference about the future of literature. I have been to a few literary festivals,...

Roti Prata

Aun Koh is one of the co-founders of The Miele Guide, the first independent guide to Asia's top restaurants. Koh has worked for the International Herald Tribune and Newsweek, and has also launched several publications, including EAST magazine, an Asian regional lifestyle publication. Between 2004...

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