All Articles by Date

July, 2014

Translating A Life Between in Mely Kiyak’s “The Gold Watch”

In 1961, Germany and Turkey signed a recruitment agreement to fill job vacancies in Germany's booming post-war economy while also providing Turkey with benefits. Young, healthy, preferably unmarried Turkish men would be enlisted to work in German factories and mines. Transportation to, and housing in, Germany for these Gastarbeiter, guest workers, would be paid for, and at the end of two years, they would return to Turkey, taking their earnings, as well as new skills, back to their home country.…...

Na túa boca: On Translating Elvira Riveiro Tobío

Imagine a Venn diagram: one circle represents the group of people who translate from Spanish. The other stands for those married to speakers of one of Spain’s minority languages. In the center—known as a mandorla or vesica piscis, for the benefit of fancy word lovers like myself—fall the husbands and wives who have been asked, “So when are you going to translate something from Euskera/Galician/Catalan?” The spouses of Basque people have it easiest. While the actual number…...

The Week in Translation

GO what: Paraty International Literary Festival (FLIP) when: July 30-August 3, 2014 where: Paraty, Brazil more info: http://ow.ly/zEUdx what: Bilingual reading and conversation with Flávio de Araújo and Rachel Morgenstern-Clarren about the translation of Araújo's poetry collection Zangareio into English (Off-FLIP) when: Friday, August 1, 3pm where: CAMOKA BOTEQUIM – Praça da Bandeira – próximo ao Cais; Paraty, Brazil more…...

Translator Relay: Esther Allen

Our "Translator Relay" series features a new interview each month. This month's translator will choose the next interviewee, adding a different, sixth question. For July's installment, Sean Cotter passed the baton to writer, translator, editor, and Baruch College professor Esther Allen. Allen's translations from French and Spanish include the Penguin Classics anthology José Martí: Selected Writings; Rex, by José Manuel Prieto; Lands of Memory…...

The Week in Translation

GO what: The Business of Literary Translation-A Practical Guide for Emerging Translators (Workshop) when: Monday, July 21, 2014 where: The Free Word Centre, London EC1 more info: http://ow.ly/yAdz8 SUBMIT what: 2015 Austrian Cultural Forum New York Translation Prize submissions accepted: July 1-September 1, 2014 more info: http://ow.ly/xwHPP what: Translation Lab 2014 at Ledig House when: November 5-14, 2014 where: Omi International Arts Center submission deadline: July 15…...

Andrei Bitov’s “The Symmetry Teacher”

Andrei Bitov describes his book The Symmetry Teacher as a “novel-echo,” a palimpsest of a text which, as he explains in his preface, is his Russian “translation” of an obscure and untraceable English novel by a writer called A. Tired-Boffin. Bitov claims that he took this English book on a geological expedition to the taiga with friends many years ago. When the group ran out of things to read, Bitov’s Russian companions recalled seeing “a foreign novel” in…...

Dorothy Tse’s “Snow and Shadow”

Dorothy Tse’s third book, Snow and Shadow, is a collection of surreal stories set in a fantastical version of Hong Kong. According to Tse, Western readers don’t need extensive knowledge about her native city in order to appreciate her writing. “A person’s moods or dreams,” Tse explains in an interview, “may have just as much, if not more, influence on how someone may read my work.” It’s fitting that Tse mentions dreams, since her narrative style is…...

New in French: Les Sauvages by Sabri Louatah

Les Sauvages (“The Barbarians”), the first novel by Parisian writer Sabri Louatah, is a turbulent portrait of a contemporary France divided between a desire for globalization and a wave of nationalism. It is being published in four parts by Flammarion-Versilio. The third volume was published in the fall of 2013, and Louatah is currently working on the final book. The first volumes are set during the May 2012 presidential elections in France, pitting the outgoing president Nicolas Sarkozy…...

My Favorite Bookstore: Deniz Koç on Robinson Crusoe 389

SALT Beyoglu 4. Kat Istiklal Caddesi 136  Beyoglu 34430 Istanbul Turkey “A bookstore with a distinctive style of its own, located in Pera, Istanbul on İstiklâl Street, no. 389. A warehouse established in September 1994 containing choice books. An archive where books are displayed & accessible to all. A town square, the gathering point not only of those who look & listen but of those who see & hear as well. A library where one goes not only for buying books but also…...

The Week in Translation

GO what: Asia Pacific Writers and Translators Association Conference when: July 17-19, 2014 where: The Arts House, 1 Old Parliament Lane, Singapore 179429 more info: http://ow.ly/yAe7U what: The Business of Literary Translation-A Practical Guide for Emerging Translators (Workshop) when: Monday, July 21, 2014 where: The Free Word Centre, London EC1 more info: http://ow.ly/yAdz8 SUBMIT what: 2015 Austrian Cultural Forum New York Translation Prize submissions accepted: July 1-September…...

The City and the Writer: In Santa Cruz with Micah Perks

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   Can you describe the mood of Santa Cruz as you feel/see it? Santa Cruz is antic. UC Santa Cruz’s mascot is the banana slug, a bright yellow hermaphroditic creature sprawled beneath the Redwoods. The street performers on Pacific blow giant bubbles that burst on car…...

Nao-Cola and Kindness

I first picked up Don't Laugh at Other People's Sex because of the author’s cool name. Nao-Cola Yamazaki. That's not the whole story, though. I had heard about the book from a friend, and I knew it won an award, and then I happened upon it in a bookstore. But I don't know if I could have connected my friend's story about an impressive book by a young female author who won the prestigious Bungei Prize, for new authors, with the physical book staring me in the face in some…...

Piece by Piece They’re Taking My World Away

The waves fell on the shore like shipwrecked men, broken-spirited, disheartened and weak, one after the next, with clipped moans, small sighs, one after the next. The squall had begun to die down in mid-afternoon and now the sun was shaping a huge burning hourglass over the calm waters which were full of seaweed and branches and pinecones and tin cans and plastic bags and wood from fishcrates—thin bleached sticks like the bones of fish that had been eaten by bigger fish. But in the distance…...

Slaves of Moscow

On October 30, 2012, a group of civil society activists in Moscow freed twelve slaves from the Produkty grocery store, owned by a Kazakhstani couple, Zhansulu Istanbekova and her husband, Saken Muzdybayev. Nearly all of those released were women from the city of Shymkent in Kazakhstan, which is also Istanbekova’s hometown. Istanbekova had at various times invited them to Moscow to work in her store. Once there, they had been robbed of their passports and forced to work without pay for twenty…...

Gastarbeiter

The year is 1994. A pale intellectual arrives at the Munich train station with a small suitcase and many hopes. This is Germany—blossoming, as orderly as a village home expecting guests, a country groaning under the lash of the tyrannical Brothers Grimm (as our hero will discover a bit later on, they are pictured on the 1,000 deutsche mark note). The pale man meets a wide range of interesting characters such as Poles, employers, and crawling airplanes, as well as a mysterious desperado known…...

The Gold Watch

Fifty years ago, when Turkish guest workers came to Germany and telephone calls were expensive, people recorded audio tapes and gave them to friends and acquaintances traveling to Turkey. On these tapes the guest workers talked about their lives, their jobs, and the factories they worked in; they described the cities they'd wound up in, and following all these narratives were lists of people they wanted to say hello to. In return, the relatives back home also recorded tapes, sometimes simply…...

Me and Mycobacterium tuberculosis

When I was given the news, I was quite overcome. I was told I was going to England. I was supposed to work with a company in London for a couple of years as part of my job. I was instructed to apply for my visa. Such unexpected good fortune flabbergasted me. No one in my family had ever traveled to England, or anywhere abroad. I remember when I was a child my grandfather would recite this ditty to me: Th-a-a-a-m-e-s river has a bridge, beautiful, and then, Ships ply overhead, while underneath walk…...

The Bamboo Stalk

One evening I called a taxi to go to the gas depot near the central market to change an empty cylinder. One of the streets in Jabriya was severely congested. Jabriya is always crowded, but congestion like this, with cars hardly able to move, could only happen if there was an accident or a checkpoint. As I expected, at the end of the street there were police cars with lights flashing blue and red. The police were standing by the side of the road checking driving licenses and registration papers. The…...

Horsemeat of the Brothel

Yan, thirty-one, was born in a small fishing town in Fujian province, China. Although wealthy Fujianese expatriates are notorious for the extravagant ceremonies they perform in honor of their ancestors, the average annual income in the province was less than 6,000 Yuan (about £600) in 2005. Yan grew up in an empty shack, surrounded by damp walls covered with posters of celebrities and oxidized calendars, and made an arranged marriage to a distant relative, who, when she went into labor, played…...

The Bed

I wake up early on an August morning in 1980. The blinds are drawn and the rays of the sun are blinding me. I reach for my sunglasses on the desk, but there is no desk, and the giant map of the United States hanging over the bed is missing too, along with my books, my wardrobe, the pictures, the carpet, and the wallpaper with its distinctive geometric pattern. For a few minutes I lie in bed, confused. I dreamed I was in America. America, my father said, is a melting pot, where everyone is melted…...

Guadalupe Nettel’s “Natural Histories”

“All animals know what it is they need, except for man.” We may not care to admit it, but it is difficult to argue with such a resonant statement on human nature—or, at least, this is what we’re compelled to believe after reading Guadalupe Nettel’s Natural Histories. The book’s title, as well as the quote above, which serves as an epigraph for the text, come from Pliny the Elder. The naturalist and author from Ancient Roman times posited in his “Naturalis…...

Vladimir Pozner’s “The Disunited States”

Imagine that you are asleep and then wrenched awake by the alarm on a clock radio, and the radio is tuned to the news, and the announcer is caught mid-sentence, running down the day’s events while you blink furiously and try to get your bearings. This is how Vladimir Pozner’s The Disunited States begins: with an ellipsis followed by a barrage of information. The day in question is September 21, 1936—seven years after the stock market crash of ’29, the bank runs, and the onset…...

The Folktales of Sindh: An Introduction

The Folklore and Literature Project, the forty-two-volume Sindhi folklore collection compiled by the scholar, philologist, and folklorist Nabi Bakhsh Khan Baloch (1917–2011) and published by the Sindhi Adabi Board, is one of the great treasures of world heritage. This literature spans the historic land of Sindh, home to the Indus Valley Civilization (3300–1300 BCE), situated in present-day Pakistan. It is likely that in the folktales preserved in the Sindhi language, we can find the structures…...

The Two Sparrows

There was a sparrow. And there was a male sparrow. The sparrow brought home a grain of rice. The male sparrow brought one of mung. Together the two of them made khichri. Then the sparrow went outdoors to fetch water. When her back was turned the male sparrow ate up all the khichri, then covered his eyes with a strip of cloth and went to sleep. When the sparrow arrived at the door of her house carrying the pitchers of water, one atop the other, she called out to the male sparrow, saying, "Help me…...

The Stork and the She-Stork

In a tamarisk tree beside a lake a stork and a she-stork made a nest and had babies. Early every morning both of them flew out in search of food to feed their chicks. One day, while flying, they sighted a field of millet. The stork said to the she-stork, “You sit on a tree while I quickly go and graze in the field.” The she-stork stopped him, saying, “Don’t go. It is late. Let us fly away.” But the stork would not hear of it, and, leaving the she-stork behind, went…...

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