Category: Dispatches

April, 2012

The Advanced Language Class as Translation Workshop

A wonderful, and perhaps underappreciated, way to bring international literature into the classroom is through transforming advanced language classes into translation workshops. While language classes might seem an obvious home for news from afar, some people associate translation in...

March, 2012

From the Translator: Working with the Author

Editor's note: Translator Samantha Schnee worked closely with author Carmen Boullosa throughout the translation of the latter's "Sleepless Homeland." The following exchange, with its multiple rounds of drafts, queries, and responses, provides an instructive glimpse of the...

Celebrating World Poetry Day

Today is World Poetry Day, and in celebration we invite you to explore our rich archives. Start with Ilya Kaminsky's brilliant manifesto on poetry in translation, "Correspondences in the Air," from our Ecco Anthology of International Poetry, and then turn to the nearly six hundred...

Japan, One Year Later

On March 11, 2011, the Tōhoku region of northeastern Japan was rocked by a violent earthquake and tsunami that triggered an accident at a nuclear power plant. We mark the anniversary with poems by two Japanese writers, both translated by Jeffrey Angles. In "Do Not...

Best Translated Book Award Fiction Longlist Announced

Three Percent, the resource for international literature based at the University of Rochester, has announced the fiction longlist for the 2012 Best Translated Book Awards. The twenty-five nominees include books by WWB authors David Albahari, Sergio Chejfec, Johan Harstad, Dany...

February, 2012

Celebrating International Mother Language Day

On February 2, 1952, during a peaceful demonstration to demand national status in East Pakistan for the Bengali language, four students were shot dead in the street. A postcolonial trauma that would lead to war and the creation of the nation of Bangladesh. In 1999 the General...

Festival Neue Literatur This Week in New York

The Festival Neue Literatur has been around since 2010.  This festival of new writing from the German-speaking countries (Austria, Germany, and Switzerland) is put on in New York every year, in February, by a consortium of cultural institutes.  It takes place over a long...

January, 2012

Homeless Rats: A Parable for Postrevolution Libya

Libyan writer and diplomat Ahmed Ibrahim Fagih’s Homeless Rats is a quasi-fantastic historical novel that offers considerable insight into Libyan culture and geography, in particular that of the Western Jebel Nafusa, which played a key role in Gaddafi’s ouster. The plot...

December, 2011

MuXin, 1927–2011

Chinese writer and painter MuXin died December 21. MuXin was born in 1927 in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province, to an wealthy, aristocratic family. Like most intellectuals in the late 1940s, he rallied around Mao Zedong’s vision for a new China, but he quickly became disillusioned. Between...

On North Korea: Leaders Great and Dear, and Literature

The opacity that his obituaries attribute to Kim Jong-il extends to North Korean literary culture. WWB has published a fair amount of writing from the country, starting with our second issue in September 2003, Writing from North Korea, and continuing with our anthology Literature from...

October, 2011

The Black Hat: On Self-Translation and Freedom

There is a lively interest in literature in Iceland, although the foreigner tends to see this in a somewhat romantic light.  Although there are Viking festivals each summer and the foreigner might be under the impression that most Icelanders are widely read in the sagas, this is far...

The 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature: It’s Tomas Tranströmer

The Nobel Prize in Literature goes to Sweden's great Tomas Tranströmer. The Swedish Academy said it recognized the eighty-year-old poet "because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality." From his "Prelude," translated for us by Rika...

The 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature: Countdown!

News flash: The usually coy Swedish Academy has announced that the Nobel will be awarded Thursday. In the home stretch, Ladbrokes keeps Adonis and Tranströmer to win and place, while Murakami moves into show; Unibet has Murakami leading, with Adonis passing Vijay dan Detha into...

September, 2011

After the Revolution: Tunisia, September

The improbable woman was dressed in black Her diverse shadow and her hallucinations were there only to redefine the furtive with appropriate optimism, I could not elude her —Slaheddine Haddad,"A carters’ tea" September still feels like summer in Tunisia, even more so...

The 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature: Round Two

Resuming last week's conversation, the speculation continues. Britain's suspiciously accurate Ladbrokes bets on Adonis at 4:1, followed by Tomas Transtromer at 9:2 and Peter Nadas at 10:1. Thomas Pynchon and Assia Dejebar are at 12:1, with Ko Un in sixth position at 14:1. ...

The 2011 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 laureates Herta Müller, J. M....

A Berlin Diary, in Memory of September 11

I spent the academic year 2001–2 in Berlin.  This was a year bracketed by tragedies that took place in my absence—one huge and life-changing for millions of people, one small and life-changing for just a few.  The year began with the terrorist attacks of September...

Layers of Dust and Debris

Another year and its layers of dust and debris. Ten years gone by and the pictures, the words still as sharp and vivid. Glass you dare not touch with your fingers. It all happened across the Atlantic, very far away. The horror reverberating around the planet in a matter of minutes. It...

“I Still Belong to My Country”: An Interview with Ali Al Jallawi

Poet Ali Al Jallawi fled Bahrain in April of this year, one of many political activists, journalists, and writers who left the country rather than risk arrest during a crackdown against pro-democracy protests. In the 1990s Al Jallawi had been imprisoned twice, and tortured, as described...

August, 2011

The Graffiti of Benghazi

Six months after the February uprising, there are several major differences in the physical appearance of Benghazi, Libya’s rebel capital. The city is unmistakably cleaner, the result of a few pre-uprising civic works (including the cleaning of Benghazi’s putrid central lake)...

PEN Translation Prizes Announced

PEN has just announced its literary awards for 2011. The award for poetry in translation went to Khaled Mattawa for Adonis: Selected Poems by Adonis (Yale University Press, The Margellos World Republic of Letters Series), and for prose to Ibrahim Muhawi for Journal of an Ordinary Grief...

Najati Tayyara, Still Imprisoned

On May 11, 2011, Al Jazeera conducted a phone interview with my friend the writer and Syrian rights activist Najati Tayyara.  In that interview, my friend spoke with complete candor about the brutal, bloody practices of the Syrian regime’s apparatuses against peaceful...

Mistral, One Hundred Years Ago

Image of Mistral, One Hundred Years Ago
My father-in-law, Walther Franke-Ruta, was born in 1890 in Leipzig, Germany, into a family of furriers and musicians. He became a poet, a prolific novelist, and a popular radio playwright and social satirist, although the satire, first to last, was  gentle, without acid or...

July, 2011

How Long It Is, This Arab Spring

It's now seven months since Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire and ignited the Arab Spring. As we wrap up the first of two issues of writing from the uprisings, it's instructive to look back at Dispatches filed as events were unfolding. At the end of January, Chip Rossetti...

NEA Translation Awards Announced

The NEA has announced this year's fellowships for translation projects, and we're very happy to see so many WWB translators among the recipients. Congratulations to Eric Abrahamsen,  Ross Benjamin (you can read an extract from his project here), Peter Constantine, Kristin...

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