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June, 2011

“Mr. Pamuk, did all this really happen to you?”

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The Naive and the Sentimental Novelist, translated from the Turkish by Nazim Dikba, is based on a series of lectures delivered at Harvard by Orhan Pamuk as part of the prestigious Charles Eliot Norton lecture series. Pamuk seems to have had a good time writing this book: In 2009,...

May, 2011

Through the Looking Glass, and What the Author Saw after Being Translated

Until I was published, I viewed my stories as my own, personal things, extensions of my mind that could be compared to an article of clothing, changed according to the day and season; or, perhaps, some easily alterable part of my anatomy, like my nails, or hair, things we do, let grow,...

Beyond the Physical World: An Interview with David Albahari

In honor of the seventh annual PEN World Voices Festival and the release of Leeches (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), Words Without Borders sat down with Serbian writer and translator David Albahari for a chat. Speaking with WWB contributor E.C. Belli, Albahari touched on everything...

“Help Us Be Good Again”: Literacy in Afghanistan

The day Osama Bin Laden was killed, I was extolling the benefits of education in western Afghanistan. It was the first week of school for the Dari and Pashto adult literacy program that I managed and, like any good principal, I was making the rounds.  I walked into a classroom...

A tale from the Ebony Coast

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Fama is a handsome prince of the Malinké people, but he spends his days in the capital city, far from his people, wandering from one funeral to the next as an uninvited, sometimes unwanted orator. Salimata, his beautiful wife, supports her angry and frustrated husband by selling...

From the Publisher: Publishing in Malta

Everyone has an opinion about publishing. Who we should publish. What we should publish. How we should publish it. One practically pines for the good ol’ days of the publishers’ gentlemen’s club, where the grand elders decided the fate of authors, and forged the taste...

film icon Writing in a Majority/Minority Cultural Context: Local Identity vs. a Broader Nation

PEN created this video of the panel our editorial director, Susan Harris, moderated (and we co-sponsored) as part of the PEN World Voices Festival, with Nadine Bismuth, Nicolas Dickner, Dominique Fortier, Mykola Riabchuk, and Teresa Solana.

PEN World Voices 2011: Amelié Nothomb in conversation with Buket Uzuner, Friday April 29th

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Here’s a tip for writers eager to cultivate a rarified air of eccentricity: regardless of the weather, wear a big hat! According to Amelié Nothomb, whose outré headgear is her trademark—today, at La Maison Française’s panel discussion with Turkish...

Best Translated Book Awards Go to Aleš Šteger/Brian Henry, Tove Jansson/Thomas Teal

The winning titles and translators for this year’s Best Translated Book Awards were announced Friday evening at the Bowery Poetry Club as part of the PEN World Voices Festival. BTBA co-founder Chad Post kicked off the event, then turned over the microphone to Lorin Stein, who...

Ernesto Sábato, 1911–2011

Argentine writer and human rights hero Ernesto Sábato has died at the age of ninety-nine. Sábato was the author of The Tunnel (1948), On Heroes and Tombs (1961), and The Angel of Darkness (1974), and winner of the most prestigious Hispanic literary awards, when in 1983 he...

April, 2011

PEN World Voices 2011: The Launch of Carlos Franz’s “The Absent Sea”

A book launch at the Americas Society, on Park Avenue, has a sort of Old World gravitas to it. With its ornate cornices, vaulted ceilings and sparkling chandeliers, the space exerts an Oz-like pull on authors from across the Spanish-speaking world. Or at least that’s what Carlos...

The City and the Writer: In Copenhagen with Niels Hav

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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 Poetry Forum: International Women Poets

April brings both Poetry Month and the first anniversary of the publication of our Ecco Anthology of International Poetry. In his introduction to the anthology, editor Ilya Kaminsky lamented the shortage of translations of international women poets and pledged to address the issue in...

Of Books and Roses: Sant Jordi’s Day in Catalunya

The bustling, cosmopolitan port city of Barcelona, favored by travelers the world over for its Mediterranean climate, innovative architecture, and avant-garde cuisine, also happens to be the publishing capital for the Spanish-speaking world of some 500 million people. It is home to the...

On Reviewing Translations: Scott Esposito

To my mind, the problem is simple: reviewing literary translations is full of thorny issues and difficult questions, and I am as suspicious of anyone who claims to have answered them as I am of someone who tells me they know what art is. But! Which reader of Words Without Borders would...

New MLA Guidelines on Evaluating Translations

The Modern Language Association has posted new guidelines for evaluating translations as scholarship for tenure review.  Building on previous publications by ALTA and PEN, and drawing on the report of the academic working group at the Salzburg Global Seminar 461, the document offers...

From the London Book Fair, Day 3

In a morning session at today’s London Book Fair, Daniel Hahn asked a group of translators and translation advocates what it is exactly that makes a good translator. An “open-ended and impossible” question, he hastened to add, but one that at least needed to be...

From the London Book Fair: Myths and Myth-busting

Some welcome myth-busting about translation today at day two of the Literary Translation Center.  During the opening session, called “Translation Intelligence: Surveys, Reports, Statistics—What’s the Story Behind Them?,” Jonathan Heawood, director of English...

From the London Book Fair—Translations and Liquidity: Crises and Capital

The first day of the Literary Translation Center at the London Book Fair has first and foremost been about asking questions.  This is because one of the organizing themes of the day—and a refrain among the handful of panels held—has turned on one of the biggest issues...

2011: Year of Milosz!

Over the past few weeks, New York has begun to celebrate the centenary of one of Poland’s—and maybe the world’s—greatest poets, Czeslaw Milosz,as the “Year of Milosz” kicks off. With nationwide and worldwidereadings, remembrances, and exhibits,...

On Reviewing Translations: Suzanne Jill Levine tells us what the “Subversive Scribe” might add:

Throwing one’s hat into this ring can be a two-edged plume, mark my mixed-up metaphor.  If we, wearing our translator hats (though not many of us can afford hats), tell reviewers that any adjective, from “brilliant” to “clunky,” unjustified by examples,...

On Reviewing Translations: Confessions of a Book Reviewer (of works in translation)

There is an anecdote about translation—which, fittingly, I´ve only come across second-hand—that involves an enthusiastic Ernest Hemingway gushing to a friend that finally, with a new translation of War and Peace, he can get through the whole novel.  His friend then...

From Saigon to Quebec: Kim Thuy

Kim Thuy was born into privilege in Saigon in 1968 and fled ten years later with her family. After a harrowing crossing in the hold of a fishing boat and a miserable stay in a Malaysian refugee camp, the family settled in Quebec. Thuy's Ru, from our May 2010 issue, recounts these...

This

This poem is dedicated to my friend and colleague Juliano Mer Khamis, born in Nazareth in 1958 and Artistic Director of the Jenin Freedom Theater. He was tragically shot by unknown assailants in Jenin yesterday as he was leaving the theater. His two-year-old son was in the car with him....

On Reviewing Translations: Rigoberto González

With so few titles getting translated into English, it seems ludicrous to impose too many conditions in terms of matching a book reviewer to a translated project, or even in terms of determining whether a translated project is worth reviewing. The sad fact is that those of us reviewing...

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