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March, 2011

On Reviewing Translations: Lorraine Adams

Like many American-born English speakers, I have an unhappy story to tell about my ignorance of the rest of the world’s languages. It begins in my youth when I spent eight years studying Latin. This rendered me well-versed in Vergil, Horace and Catullus, but unfit for modern literature,...

Fragments of Sappho

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The Greek poet Sappho, who lived on the island of Lesbos from around 630 BC, was a singer and songwriter who wrote nine volumes of verse lyrics. Of all this work, only one poem has survived intact. Yet she is remembered more than two millennia later. If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sapphois a...

Getting Personal and Universal in Joseph Roth’s Job

As translator Ross Benjamin said during his discussion with The New Republic‘s senior editor Ruth Franklin this past February at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Job: The Story of a Simple Man was “a turning point for Joseph Roth.” Not only did Job lead up to his...

On Reviewing Translations: Tess Lewis

Being on the receiving as well as the dealing end of reviewing literature in translation, I’m particularly sensitive to the issues involved. More than three quarters of the reviews and essays I’ve written over the past decade have been about translations, a number of them from...

film icon Poeboes Podcast with Daniel Hahn

Daniel Hahn (1973 - ) is a British writer, editor and translator from the Portuguese and Spanish. His translations include works by José Eduardo Agualusa, José Luís Peixoto and José Saramago. In 2007, his translation of Agualusa's The Book of Chameleons was awarded...

On Reviewing Translations: Susan Bernofsky, Jonathan Cohen, and Edith Grossman

This document was submitted to Words Without Borders for our series On Reviewing Translations, based on a collaboration between the three contributors that had been initiated prior to solicitation. SOME THOUGHTS FOR REVIEWERS OF LITERARY TRANSLATIONS You ought to review a translation as you...

The Writer and the Screenwriter: An Interview with Domenico Starnone

Domenico Starnone has written for film both directly and indirectly: he has over a dozen screenplays to his credit, and has had one of his novels, Denti, turned into a film. This interview was conducted on e-mail. The questions were translated into Italian by Marco Candida, and Starnone's...

The City and the Writer: In Brooklyn with Tina Chang

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Special City Series / New York City 2011 If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains....

The City and the Writer: In Queens with Irina Reyn

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Special City Series / New York City 2011 If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains....

Jonathan Blitzer’s Film Picks

Les Cousins Claude Chabrol This dark, eerie—and stunted—coming-of-age story has been following me around for months since I recently saw it for the first time.  In a word, it’s the story of an idealistic French provincial who has come to Paris to study law; we know...

On Reviewing Translations: Daniel Hahn

I’m a translator, whose translations get reviewed regularly in the mainstream press; I’m also a reviewer who reviews translations regularly in the mainstream press. In probably more or less even numbers, I’d guess—for each one I get, I write one, give or take. Inevitably...

New Series: On Reviewing Translations

This week, we are launching a series to explore the ways that book reviews handle translations. Reviewers and translators each have varied opinions on how translations should be discussed, and on who should be doing the discussing. At a recent panel on the future of book reviewing, review editors...

The Romance of Diva

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The first time I saw Diva, I was about the same age as Jules, the French mailman, opera enthusiast, and thief who is its hero. Most likely I saw it at the intimate and old-fashioned Brattle Theater in Harvard Square, one of the places I miss most about Cambridge. Diva is a highly romantic movie,...

The City and the Writer: In Manhattan with Lorraine Adams

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Special City Series/New York City 2011 If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains. —Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities   1. Can you describe...

The Battle of Algiers

Saadi Yacef headed the Algerian rebel movement, the Front de Libération Nationale, in Algiers until his capture in summer 1957. Unlike his fellow combatants in the movement, murdered in captivity by the French military or blown up by French explosives in their Casbah hideouts or strangled...

Samantha Schnee on Krzysztof Kieślowski’s “Blue”

I began going to see foreign films in 1986, the year I got my driver’s license.  My friends and I would meet in the subterranean parking garage of a deserted business complex in downtown Houston every Saturday evening for an 8:30 show in an underground theater, occasionally smuggling a...

“Hitchcock and Agha Baji”: The MacGuffin in Iran

Behnam Dayani's

À Tout de Suite, written and directed by Benoît Jacquot

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In honor of the new Movies Issue, we’re writing about our favorite foreign films; my choice: À Tout de Suite (2005), written and directed by Benoît Jacquot. Conceptually, À Tout de Suite (“Right Now”), based on a memoir by Elisabeth Fanger, sounds almost...

Adrift on the Nile by Naguib Mahfouz

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The fiction of Naguib Mahfouz is marked by a clear, harsh view of modern Egyptian life, and his characters are frequently unsympathetic. Adrift on the Nile, one of the brief novels Mahfouz wrote in the ’60s after completing his massive Cairo Trilogy, is an exception to the rule and a good...

The City and the Writer: In Staten Island with Vasyl Makhno

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Special City Series / New York City 2011 If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains.—Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities   1. Can you describe the...

Magdy El Shafee’s “Metro” to be Published in English

We're delighted to report that Magdy El Shafee's graphic novel, Metro, will be published by Metropolitan Books in early 2012. Readers will recall that WWB published an extract in February 2008, and that the book was seized on publication in Egypt and Magdy and his publisher put on trial....

February, 2011

From the Translator: Agnes Scott Langeland on Kjell Askildsen’s “Dogs of Thessaloniki”

My first encounter with Kjell Askildsen’s marvelous short stories was in 1995, in an anthology called Et stort øde landskap (A Wide Empty Landscape), published by Oktober in 1991.  Their effect on me was searing. The simple, low-key language had unexpected force, making it...

The City and the Writer Introduces Specials

The idea of adding a Specials component to The City and the Writer came while I was in Berlin this past winter 2010. Some cities seduce and intrigue so profoundly that you can’t refrain from wanting more. To touch its mysteries, get lost in its stories, architecture, and forgotten corners....

The City and the Writer: In the Bronx with Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa

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Part of the Special City Series / New York City 2011 If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains. —Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities 1.  Can you...

Questions for Peter Bush and Teresa Solana

Peter Bush has been translating the fiction of Teresa Solana since 2005, producing sparkling English versions of many of her stories and two of her comic noirs, A Shortcut to Paradise and A Not So Perfect Crime.  Here the couple, both former directors of national translation centers, talk...

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