Category: Dispatches

October, 2010

The 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature:  Week Three Countdown

Forty-eight hours to go to the announcement, and the race is up for grabs. Six hours ago, Ladbrokes had Ngugi wa Thiong’o at 3:1, followed by Cormac McCarthy (6:1), Haruki Murakami (7:1), Tomas Transtromer (9:1), Adonis (11:1), Gerald Murnane (11:1), and Ko Un (12:1). At day's end,...

September, 2010

MFA in Translation: Queens College

According to the New York Times, New York’s borough of Queens is one of the most linguistically diverse urban areas in the country—its inhabitants listed 138 different languages on their census forms this year—making it a perfect place to study translation.  And indeed, in...

NEA Literature Translation Fellowships Announced

The National Endowment for the Arts has announced the 2011 Literature Translation Fellowships, and we're delighted to see so many WWB friends and contributors on the list. Congratulations to Esther Allen, Robert Bononno, Bill Coyle, Edward Gauvin, Jason Grunebaum, Yasmeen Hanoosh, Deborah...

From the Archives: Trading Maniacs

If you're reveling in this month's Urdu issue, do check out Saadat Hasan Manto's 1955 classic "Toba Tek Singh" from September 2003. Just after Partition, the governments of Pakistan and India decide to exchange lunatics: "Muslim lunatics in Indian madhouses would be sent to Pakistan,...

Fady Joudah Wins PEN USA Translation Prize

We're delighted to report that poet and WWB contributor Fady Joudah has won the 2010 PEN USA Literary Award for Translation for his splendid rendering of Mahmoud Darwish's If I Were Another. WWB published the long poem The Tragedy of Narcissus The Comedy of Silver in our October 2009...

F*** You around the World

The New York Times is known for its demure treatment of profanity, but a recent article on a cheery new song with an unprintable title took this habitual prissiness to new heights. The writer, Noam Cohen, delivered a masterpiece of (in)elegant variation in his valiant avoidance of The Word. Which...

August, 2010

From the Archives: A Coastal Village, When Summer Gives It the Slip

As the Northern Hemisphere's summer crawls to a close, we recommend Yasmina Khadra's "Absence."  In an Algerian resort town at the end of the season, shy, dreamy teen Nasser waves good-bye to the departing Noria, the object of his mute yearning. Wandering the deserted streets, Nasser...

From the Archives: The Girl with the Finnish Stalker

In this Summer of Stieg Larsson, we challenge Sweden's claim to the Nordic crime crown with a chilling Finnish story from our issue of June 2007.  In this extract from one of Matti Yrjänä Joensuu's Detective Harjunpää novels, a criminal with the deceptively mild...

From the Archives: The Particular Sadness of Fresh Lobster

Since the entire world is on vacation, anticipating vacation, or just back from vacation, we recommend "Agony in the Kitchen," from our issue of September 2003. Juan José Millás depicts a fretful man who installs his family in a beautiful seaside house but can't take a holiday...

From the Archives: Riding Bearback

If this month's wealth of Hungarian writing leaves you wanting more, look no further than our May 2008 issue. György Dragomán's "Haul" describes a human smuggler named Zeus and his less than Olympian methods.  In an unspecified year, he drives his desperate clients to an...

Elif Shafak on the Politics of Fiction

Ted.com features a video of Turkish writer and WWB contributor Elif Shafak speaking on the politics of fiction.  Shafak describes her childhood as the daughter of a diplomat, recalls the various stereotypes her classmates had of Turkey and the correspondingly clichéd expectations put...

From the Archives: Dueling Castro Autobiographies

Fidel Castro has announced the publication of The Strategic Victory, the first volume of his memoirs. (The second volume:  The Final Strategic Counteroffensive.) For a possibly more accurate perspective, check out these extracts from Norberto Fuentes's Autobiography of Fidel Castro:...

July, 2010

From the Archives: To the Winner Goes the Prosciutto

Jean-Philippe Toussaint's Self-Portrait Abroad collects the Belgian writer's impressions of his travels to destinations as diverse as Kyoto, Berlin, Hanoi, and Prague. The extract published in our issue of April 2006, "Cap Corse (The Best Day of My Life)," describes an afternoon on...

Lives on Paper

We're delighted to note the publication of Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud's Life on Paper, a collection of short stories selected and translated by Edward Gauvin. Châteaureynaud is recognized as one of France's top fabulists, but had little exposure in English until...

From the Archives: The Sweet Science and Magic

Ana María Shua's Rematch, from our August 2005 issue, goes twelve rounds with the story of Argentine boxer Carlos Monzón, the World Champion Middleweight from 1970 to 1977.  Our narrator, a grizzled old fan, recounts how he engineered Monzón's brilliant career...

Translating the World

The Banff Centre Press has just published a collection of essays on translation, Beyond Words: Translating the World, edited by Susan Ouriou, director of the Banff International Literary Translation Center. The Centre offers an annual summer residency for translators working into and from the...

June, 2010

Pride in Padua

Before you head out to your local pride parade, stop by Padua's, courtesy of Matteo Bianchi's "Maternal Pride." Bianchi's droll panorama captures both the teeming crowd and the individual stories within. Kylie Minogue fanatic Marco, still dizzy from having shared his water bottle with...

From the Archives: Putting the “T” in GLBT

First published in our December 2007 Departures issue, Gaute Heivoll's  "Dr. Gordeau" follows a Norwegian man on an ominous trip to an unnamed country in search of a sex change. Seeking the elusive surgeon of the title, Anders moves numbly between the sinister clinic, the roiling market,...

PEN Translation Awards Announced

PEN has just announced the winners of the 2010 translation awards, and we're delighted to see three of our translators on the list. Congratulations to Peter Golub, awarded for his translations of the Russian flash-fiction writer Linor Goralnik; Chip Rossetti, recognized for his translation of...

Andrei Voznesensky, 1933–2010

The Russian poet Andrei Voznesensky has died at seventy-seven. Here are the first and last stanzas from his “Darkmotherscream,” translated by Robert Bly and Vera Dunham, in The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry:   Darkmotherscream is a Siberian dance, cry from prison...

May, 2010

Prieto, Mandelstam, Allen, and Correspondences in the Air

The June 10 issue of the New York Review of Books includes Jose Manuel Prieto's fascinating "Reading Mandelstam on Stalin," translated by the impeccable Esther Allen. Prieto describes struggling to translate Mandelstam's defiant "Epigram on Stalin"—that famous "death sentence in...

Ilya Kaminsky, Reading

Last night the Poetry Foundation held its annual Pegasus Award ceremony at the Arts Club of Chicago, and our Ilya Kaminsky blew the roof right off. Speaking in his capacity as a former recipient of a Ruth Lilly fellowship, Ilya told the audience that when he got the news, he was living with his...

April, 2010

Wolff Prize to Ross Benjamin

We're delighted to report that Ross Benjamin has been awarded the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translation Prize for his translation of Michael Maar’s Speak, Nabokov, published by Verso. From the announcement: "The jury finds that this remarkably musical translation reads beautifully, and...

Musings of a Terminal Speaker

The death of a language is rarely sudden: it is usually an unremarkable process of decline as a community gradually changes its linguistic allegiance, dropping an ancient mother-tongue for a stronger and more relevant language.  Why insist on speaking words that are understood in only a few...

Fanfare for Farm 54

A number of books have been bought for English-language publication as a result of extracts we've published, and we've just learned of another. We're delighted to report that English-language rights for Galit Seliktar and Gilad Seliktar's Farm 54, part of which ran in our February...

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