Category: From the Translator

July, 2016

From the Translator: On “Beauty, a Terrible Story”

Image: From the cover of the Brazilian edition of The Dragons Haven’t Been to Paradise, published by Companhia das Letras.  Bruna Dantas Lobato’s translation of Caio Fernando Abreu’s “Beauty, a Terrible Story” appears in the July 2016 issue...

The Translator Relay: Mihaela Moscaliuc

Image: Mihaela Moscaliuc. WWB’s Translator Relay features an interview with a different translator each month. This month’s translator will choose the next interviewee, adding a different, sixth question. For July’s installment, Sholeh Wolpé passed the...

When in Hell, Embrace the Devil: On Recreating “Grande Sertão: Veredas” in English

Image: Passages of Grande Sertão: Veredas hanging in the Museum of the Portuguese Language in São Paulo. (Wikimedia Commons.) Alison Entrekin’s translation of an excerpt from Grande Sertão: Veredas appears in the July 2016 issue of Words without...

June, 2016

From the Translator: Schernikau’s Quiet Radicalism

Image: From the cover of Ronald M. Schernikau’s Kleinstadtnovelle (Small-town Novella). Lucy Renner Jones’s translation of Ronald M. Schernikau’s “Small-town Novella”​ appears in the June 2016 issue of Words without Borders: “The Queer...

From the Translator: A Lunar Sorority

Image: Phases of the Moon. (CC0 Public Domain.) Anton Hur’s translation of Jeon Sam-hye’s “Genesis” appears in the June 2016 issue of Words without Borders: “The Queer Issue VII.” Insofar as a translator can be “well-known,” I am...

May, 2016

From the Translator: On Translating Yoss and Anabel Enríquez Piñeiro

Image: Wikimedia Commons. Hillary Gulley’s translation of Yoss’s “Interstellar Biochocolate Mousse á la solitaire . . . For Two” and Anabel Enríquez Piñeiro’s “Nothing to Declare” appear in the...

From the Translator: The Song Remains the Same?

Images: David Bowie, 1974; Silvia Pérez Cruz, 2008; Édith Piaf, 1962 (Wikimedia Commons).      Esther Allen’s translation of Erick J. Mota’s “The Bleeding Hands of Castaways” appears in the May 2016 issue...

From the Translator: Fictions of the Cuban Diamond

Image: Cuba vs. Puerto Rico at the 1986 Baseball World Cup. Wikimedia Commons. Dick Cluster’s translation of Eduardo del Llano’s “Swimming Upstream” appears in the May 2016 issue of Words without Borders: On Cuban Time: New Writing...

April, 2016

From the Translator: The Zone (On “Crow, Wheels”)

Image: Collage by Ukrainian artist Grycja, grycja.tumblr.com  Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky’s translation of Ukrainian poet Lyuba Yakimchuk’s “Crow, Wheels” appears in the April 2016 issue of Words without Borders: Women Write War. In Andrei...

On Translation: Push and Dig

Reading Haviva Pedaya’s “A Poem for Rachel Corrie”   Haviva Pedaya’s poem, “A Poem for Rachel Corrie” (in Hebrew, “Shir le-Rachel Corrie”) was written in the immediate aftermath of the death of the American activist Rachel...

March, 2016

From the Translator: On “A Red Lighter in the Heart of M.”

Collusion in French Watermelon Sugar. Collaboration through a Common Denominator. Abbaye Sainte-Marie de Lagrasse, a Benedictine abbey rebuilt in the late eight century, and the location of the translation residency where Chris Clarke met Mohammed El Khadiri, whose story A Red...

From the Translator: On “They Told You”

Olivia Baes's translation of Khadija Arouhal's They Told You appears in the March 2016 Words without Borders issue on Moroccan literature. When Emma Ramadan asked me to translate Khadija Arouhal’s poem “They Told You,” I was honored and...

From the Translator: On “Photogrammes”

Emma Ramadan guest-edited the March 2016 Words without Borders issue on Moroccan literature. The issue included her translations of poems from Ahmed Bouanani’s collection, Photogrammes, which she completed while on a Fulbright grant in Morocco....

August, 2015

From the Translator: On \“A Tale of Redemption\”

Translating Mona Sylviana’s story collection, “A Tale of Redemption and Other Stories,” has been something of a change of pace for me. Indonesian literature is often steeped in the exotic cultures, mythologies, and languages of the many ethnic groups of Indonesia. Hence...

July, 2015

From the Translator: Francis Nenik’s Fantastic Realities

I can’t resist noting that I’m writing this essay about translating a text that takes place on board an American Airlines flight—while on board an American Airlines flight. Which feels right, given that Francis Nenik writes fiction that often heightens, deepens, mocks,...

April, 2015

The Missing \“I\”: Translating Natsuko Kuroda’s autobiographical prose

Natsuko Kuroda's a b sango, the novel of which the chapter “Waymarkers” is an extract, divided opinion as an experimental work following twinning Japan’s most widely-publicized literary prize, the Akutagawa. In the original, it features several...

February, 2014

From the Translator: Tintin in the Land of Foreign Affairs

In 2006, Tom McCarthy claimed that the pages of Tintin contained the secret of literature; in 2010, Abel Lanzac and Christophe Blain declared that Tintin held the secret of making a good political speech. Invoking as it did that evergreen classic of Francophone comics, or bande...

January, 2014

True Stories from Faraway Places: Paweł Smoleński and Polish Literary Reportage

Paweł Smoleński’s “Painting the Occupation” is a great example of what I love about Polish literary reportage. Through the story of Suleiman Shakir, a famous Kurdish painter who was persecuted under Saddam Hussein, Smoleński addresses themes of freedom of...

Oulipian Champagne: Mucking with Caradec’s Deft Trickery

I remember watching Yvonne Rainer’s Journeys from Berlin/1971 in film class, and I recall the feeling of sitting in that dark Simon Fraser annex classroom searching for patterns that eluded me.  Hmm, in the past three shots, the traffic has been moving to the left.  Maybe...

December, 2013

From the Translator: Content with Constraint

The question most on a translator’s mind, when working on an Oulipian text, is, do you translate the constraint or the content? Can you do both: follow both the potentiality unleashed by the constraint and the text actually on the page? Can you offer the reader both an absorptive...

Self-translation / Self-destruction

Soon after being co-opted into the Oulipo in 1998, I started to write in French, while also continuing to write in English, and working as an all-around freelance translator (poetry, fiction, IT, marketing, ad campaigns, you name it). I’d only just taken this decisive step in my...

October, 2013

From the Translator: On Flowers and Maps

Mark Twain once joked that God created war so Americans could learn geography. Luckily for us, humanity countered with a solution of its own: translation. I believe most Americans, upon hearing the word “Moldova,” tend to think of a particularly nasty type of fungus that grows...

March, 2013

On Bugs and Buttons: Translating “Ladybirds’ Requiem”

It's not just the dearth of young girls in sailor uniforms with big eyes, tiny noses, and hair so long as to render actual movement nearly impossible that separates Akino Kondoh's work from that of most Japanese manga. Trained as a fine artist, Kondoh moves from manga to animation...

July, 2012

The Decline and Fall of a Translator’s Brain

Just when you think you’ve figured out what is going on in the Toh Enjoe story “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Galactic Empire,” you trip on another oblique reference to some bit of the outside world. It’s a story that bears up to—and in fact,...

On \“Fish Variations\”

Fish Variations has a very particular phonetic structure that throws up special challenges for the translator. Here are a few comments on these challenges and how I addressed them. Both original poem and translation have seven verses. The first four verses and the final verse are...

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