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September, 2016

Eternal Returns & Departures: Translating Gëzim Hajdari

Image: The Adriatic Sea with the coast of Albania. Photograph by Kroll Markus. Wikimedia Commons. Patrick Barron’s translation of Gëzim Hajdari’s “I am leaving you Europe” appears in the September 2016 issue: There Is No Map: The New Italian(s). PAIRED POST: An Interview with Gëzim Hajdari by Cristina Viti When translating a poem, I try to carry music and meaning from one text to another as “process not goal,” with the sense that the translation...

An Interview with Gëzim Hajdari

Image: Poet Gëzim Hajdari. Courtesy of the author. Cristina Viti speaks with Gëzim Hajdari, whose poem “I am leaving you Europe,” translated by Patrick Barron, appears in the September 2016 issue: There Is No Map: The New Italian(s). Cristina Viti recently translated a collection of Hajdari’s poems, Stigmata. PAIRED POST: Translating Gëzim Hajdari by Patrick Barron Cristina Viti (CV): One of the strongest components in your poetry is the...

Holy Tongue: On Translating Yenta Mash

Image: From From Land to Land by Todros Geller, 1926. From the Yiddish Book Center’s Spielberg Digitial Yiddish Library.  Ellen Cassedy’s translation of Yenta Mash’s “Ingathering of Exiles” appears in the September 2016 feature of Words without Borders: Contemporary Yiddish Literature on Three Continents. Many writers of modern Yiddish literature grew up in small Eastern European towns, immersed from an early age in intensive Jewish...

Read This If You Love Fashion Month

Image: A scene from Zoolander. Creative Commons. As the fashion industry soldiers through September, marching from New York to London to Milan and on to Paris, we’re sneaking behind the catwalks and browsing behind the scenes in our archives. Try on these five international samples for size: Behind the Scenes in Indonesia A harried Jakarta advertising casting director wrangles bookers, agents, models, photographers, and others while trying to lasso his sexual anxiety, in...

The Translator Relay: Kareem James Abu-Zeid

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 September’s installment, Ming Di passed the baton to Kareem James Abu-Zeid, an award-winning translator of Arabic literature. What is your connection to the language(s) you translate from and/or the place(s) where the books you translate are written? Most...

The Many Voices of Lina Prosa’s “Lampedusa Snow”

Image: The Italian Alps, photographed by Andrew Raimondi, 2015. Wikimedia Commons. Allison Grimaldi-Donahue and Nerina Cocchi’s translation of Lina Prosa’s “Lampedusa Snow” appears in the September 2016 issue of Words without Borders: There Is No Map—The New Italian(s). Translation is a dialogue, a conversation. For a while I believed the conversation was between me, the translator, and the author. Then I realized it was a polyphonic chorus of influences...

The Nobel Prize in Literature, Round Two

“The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, steady business.” —John Steinbeck As the Nobel Prize announcement nears, the pace is picking up in both speculations and wagering. The cheerily named NicerOdds (owned by one Håkan Klingén, whose first diacritic suggests an inner track to the Academy) has aggregated odds from the various books, useful for tracking both usual suspects and outliers. Over at The Literary...

WWB Event — New Italian Voices

Image: Darrin Zammit Lupi, from “Isle Landers,” 2014, photograph. @ Darrin Zammit Lupi.  To celebrate our September issue, There Is No Map: The New Italian(s), Words Without Borders presents an evening with translators Sole Anatrone, Martha Cooley, and Antonio Romani, and guest editor Alta L. Price. The participants will read new translations of work by Giampiero Neri and Laila Wadia and discuss how the forces of migration, immigration, emigration, and...

The City and the Writer: In Skopje with Igor Isakovski

Image: Igor Isakovski, photographed by Marjan Stojkovski. Igor Isakovski was a leading Macedonian poet, prose writer, translator, and editor. He was born on September 19, 1970 in Skopje and died on December 15, 2014. He was forty-four years old. Paired Post: A Tribute to Igor Isakovski 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...

A Tribute to Igor Isakovski (1970–2014)

Image: Igor Isakovski. Paired Post: In Skopje with Igor Isakovski A moment with the poems of the energetic, soulful, and eminent Macedonian poet and writer Igor Isakovski on his birthday—September 19. This December 15 will mark two years since Igor’s death at forty-four years old. As the Croatian poet Damir Sodan, a mutual friend said: “Igor was a tireless ‘worker in song,’ publisher, passionate translator and a loyal literary friend.” He is greatly...

Does “Immigrant Writing” Exist?

Image: Immigrants on the Steamer Germanic, illustration, 1887. Wikimedia Commons. This month’s issue on migration to and within Italy revisits a frequent WWB topic. It’s an endlessly variable subject, as diverse and specific as the people and countries involved. With this in mind, we’re returning to Saša Stanišić’s bracing “Three Myths of Immigrant Writing: A View from Germany,” from November 2008. A Bosnian...

Our Guide to the 2016 Brooklyn Book Festival & Bookend Events

The Brooklyn Book Festival is this Sunday, with a stellar lineup of literary conversations, preceded by exciting Bookend events all this week. Below is our itinerary of not-to-be-missed festival and bookend events featuring international writers and translators, including WWB contributors. Wednesday, September 14 7:00pm    PEN Translation Presents “Banned But Translated”  (Word Bookstore, 126 Franklin Street, Brooklyn; Free) Members of the...

The Watchlist: September 2016

Every month, Words without Borders reviews editor M. Bartley Seigel shares a handful of recently released or forthcoming titles he’s excited about, books he hopes you’ll agree are worth our good attentions. From Akashic Books, Brussels Noir, edited by Michel Dufranne; translated from the Dutch by Katie Shireen Assef; ISBN 9781617753985; US$11.96. Says the publisher: “Akashic Books continues its groundbreaking series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004. Each...

We’re Hiring: Communications Intern

Communications Intern Part-Time New York, NY Words Without Borders seeks an outgoing, creative, and highly organized Communications Intern for the fall of 2016. The Communications Intern will work closely with the Executive Director and the Communications Coordinator to promote our monthly online magazine of international literature and related events. The ideal candidate will have strong verbal and written communications skills and knowledge of the international...

The Thoughtful Traveler: On Giampiero Neri’s Poetry

Image: Lake Annone in Lombardy, Italy, near to where Giampiero Neri grew up. Wikimedia Commons. Martha Cooley and Antonio Romani’s translations of Giampiero Neri’s prose-poems appear in the August 2016 issue: There Is No Map: The New Italian(s). Martha and Antonio will speak about their translations at Words Without Borders’s September 20 event in New York City. Giampiero Neri’s Poesie 1960-2005 (Poems 1960-2005) is a container into which...

First Read: From “Landing”

Image: From the cover of Landing (Hispabooks). Landing, by Laia Fàbregas and translated by Samantha Schnee, is forthcoming from Hispabooks (September, 13, 2016). He died while we were landing. During takeoff I had noticed how his hands were riveted to his knees and how the veins beneath his skin seemed to be thickening. I hoped he wasn’t in pain. As soon as we were airborne, he relaxed. The cabin lights shone brightly. Although I normally wouldn’t, I talked to...

7 Stories from Classrooms Around the World

It’s back-to-school season in the northern hemisphere, and even those of us who are no longer students can feel the fall offers a fresh start and new opportunities for knowledge. We’re refreshing our own ideas of education with these scenes from classrooms around the world. 1. Senegal  On the Senegalese island of Niodior, an elementary-school teacher gives a poor child the French language and the rest of the world in Fatou Diome’s The Belly of the...

Our 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature Office Pool

Between the Olympics 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 Svetlana Alexievich, Herta Müller, J. M. G. Le Clézio, Naguib Mahfouz, and, of course, any number of contenders. The Nobels will start rolling out with Physiology/Medicine on October 3 through Economics on the...

“The Invisibility Cloak” by Ge Fei

The Invisibility Cloak by Ge Fei—translated beautifully from the Chinese, albeit with a certain appealing clunkiness, by Canaan Morse—is the first of his novels to be translated into English. It tells the story of two Beijings: The grimy, hardscrabble Beijing, inhabited by gangsters and hustlers; and the shiny, modern Beijing, home to professors and international businessmen. These twin cities, both equally real and equally fantastic, exist side by side, and...

The City and the Writer: In Beirut with Hala Alyan

Image: Hala Alyan. Photographed by Luc Kordas. 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 Beirut as you feel/see it? Beirut is a place trying to escape its past. A decade and a half of civil war (and years of sectarian conflict since) has left the city scarred—from the...

WWB Weekend: Willy Wonka and the Interstellar Chocolate Factory

With the death of Gene Wilder and the many remembrances of his Willy Wonka days, we’re finding both chocolate and solace in Yoss’s “Interstellar Biochocolate Mousse à la Solitaire . . . For Two,” from our May issue of Cuban speculative fiction. The annotated recipe for this “preferred dessert of astronauts who are embarking on long solo journeys” calls for the usual suspects—cocoa powder or chocolate, cream, sugar, eggs (given by...

There Is No Map: The New Italian(s)

People who don’t know me assume, looking at me, that I don’t know Italian. When I speak to them in Italian, when I ask for something . . . they say, puzzled, ‘I don’t understand.’ It’s always the same response, the same scowl. As if my Italian were another language. —Jhumpa Lahiri, In Other Words What is migration? The word itself immediately brings up a concatenation of issues: immigration, emigration, flights both voluntary and forced. Can one even...

Barbie

Milanese journalist Gabriella Kuruvilla touches on the dynamics of motherhood and assimilation. I did it again today. I woke up, made breakfast, watched them eat and drink, bathed and dressed them, took them to school, returned home, got my sari, sandals, lipstick, kohl, makeup remover, rings, bangles, wrap, and Barbie. I put it all in my bag and went out. I always choose a different café on the long route from Lambrate to Bovisa. I prefer to walk, despite the time it takes. I’m...

The Act of Naming

Maaza Mengiste considers the role of identity in mourning the dead. Image: Alan Kurdi. Photograph by Nilüfer Demir, Dogan News Agency. We see the little boy at the same time as we understand the tragedy. He is face down on the beach, dressed in a red shirt and dark blue trousers, his arms oddly aligned at his side. The water laps hungrily at his head, seeping into his nose and mouth before receding back to the Mediterranean Sea. If we didn’t know the facts of his death, it...

Two Untitled Prose Poems

Italian poet Giampiero Neri reflects on solitude and exile. It may seem odd that an episode recounted in a poem, as mere information, lends itself to being misunderstood. The episode is the Homeric one about the island of the Feaci and the misunderstanding is their so-called hospitality, by now almost proverbial. Dashed on the shore by the waves, miraculously safe, Ulysses is helped by Nausicaa, but must meet the Feaci and first of all their king Alcinoo. The prospect is dangerous and Ulysses...

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