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May, 2016

WWB Weekend: Memories and Wars

Image: WWII Memorial, Canberra, Creative Commons CC0. With Barack Obama visiting Hiroshima and Vietnam, and Memorial Day around the corner, the US is awash in memories of its wars and those lost in them. We’re turning to our archives to extend the commemoration to those who fought in other conflicts around the world. In our October 2013 issue of African women writers, Haregu Keleta’s “The Girl Who Carried a Gun”  tracks a teenager who flees an arranged...

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 May 2016 issue of Words without Borders: “On Cuban Time: New Writing from the Island,” which she guest-edited with Esther Allen. Join WWB this Wednesday, March 25 at the Bronx...

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 of Words without Borders: “On Cuban Time: New Writing from the Island,” which she guest-edited with Hillary Gulley. Join WWB this Wednesday, March 25 at the Bronx Museum of the...

“Orthokostá” by Thanassis Valtinos

History, it is often said, is written by the victors. But who exactly are the victors of a conflict as brutal and complicated as the Greek Civil War? Part of the Cold War, the Greek Civil War was rooted in the Nazi invasion of the country and funded by world superpowers including the Soviet Union and the United States. Tens of thousands of Greeks died, and much of the nation’s infrastructure was laid to waste. Certainly the narrators of Orthokostá would not be counted among the...

WWB Weekend: A Man Booker-Inspired Menu

We’re thrilled that Han Kang and her translator, Deborah Smith, carried off the Man Booker International Prize this week for The Vegetarian. WWB ran an excerpt from that singular book in our April 2014 South Korean issue, and if it’s made you hungry for more, we invite you to sample the many other Korean offerings in our archives. You could start with Koo Byung-Mo’s “Wizard’s Bakery,” in which a teenage runaway stumbles on the secret recipes behind the...

Remembering Lakshmi Holmström

“The most difficult part of translation is, I believe, finding the ‘right’ pitch and voice of the original, and to try and match that. I won’t say ‘replicate’; that’s impossible. But there is also the hard graft of familiarizing oneself with the history and cultural background of the work. A translator should never be afraid of asking questions. Meanings don’t reside in dictionaries alone, we know.”  - Lakshmi Holmström...

WWB EVENT — Back to the Future: Cuban Sci-fi Now

Image: Douglas Pérez, "Pictopía III: Still I Have a Dream," 2009, Courtesy of the Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection. Celebrate WWB's current issue and discover Cuban science fiction at the Bronx Museum of the Arts! Explore the world of Cuban science fiction at a bilingual reading with Erick J. Mota and Yoss, whose far-out work is featured in the May issue of Words without Borders edited by Esther Allen and Hillary Gulley....

The City and the Writer: In Jerusalem with Liana Badr

Special Series: Literary Maps   City of Origin: Hebron City of Birth: Jerusalem City/Cities you grew up in: Jerusalem and Jericho Current Residence: Ramallah Your City/Cities: Jerusalem, Jericho  Language(s) spoken: Arabic and English Language(s) you write in: Arabic Home: Jerusalem   I consider myself to be the descendent of three cities, one could say a trinity, in Palestine. I lived and grew up in two of them, Jerusalem and Jericho, and I chose to belong to the third:...

WWB Weekend: Before Eurovision, Havana Bolero

As the Eurovision song competition reaches for its final high note, we’re crooning along with Leonardo Padura’s humid “Nine Nights with Amada Luna,” from our July 2008 Revolutions issue. In the Havana of 1967, a country boy—“innocent, Catholic, revolutionary”—comes to the city for college and enrolls in a crash course in obsession instead. Lured by a poster of “The Sorrowful Lady of the Bolero” performing nightly at the...

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 from the Island. Eduardo del Llano’s “Swimming Upstream” inhabits a space where the flying feet of speculative fiction cross the cultural touchstone of home plate. Interestingly, while Cuban...

Rebecca Liao and Cristóbal Pera Join WWB Board

Words Without Borders is pleased to announce the election of Rebecca Liao and Cristóbal Pera to its board of directors. “We are delighted to welcome Rebecca Liao and Cristóbal Pera to the Words Without Borders board of directors,” said Samantha Schnee, Chair. “With their passion for international literature, wide-ranging expertise, and regional knowledge of Latin America and Asia, Pera and Liao will make great contributions to WWB.” REBECCA LIAO is a...

The Watchlist: May 2016

Every month, from the reviews desk to you, Words without Borders editor M. Bartley Seigel shares a handful of new and noteworthy titles he’s excited about. He thinks you should be excited about them, too. From Oneworld Publications, Masha Regina by Vadim Levental, translated from the Russian by Lisa Hayden; 288 pages; ISBN 1780748612: US$19.00. Says the publisher: “Masha dreams of becoming one of the great European auteurs. But first she must escape the drudgery of her daily...

When the Woman Writes the Poem Herself: On Alejandra Pizarnik

Image: Alejandra Pizarnik in a public park in Buenos Aires, photographed by Sara Facio. Alejandra Pizarnik’s Extracting the Stone of Madness has a loaded title: “Extracting the stone” (it’s the same in Spanish: Extracción de la piedra de locura) is a visceral image evoking childbirth. Assimilating an artist’s work to offspring, and the creative process to giving birth, is common, but this title has a physicality that reconnects...

WWB Weekend: The Danger of Saying “Madre” in Mexico

At the intersection of Cinco de Mayo (May 5) and Mother’s Day (May 8), we’re celebrating both holidays with a look back at Liza Bakewell’s essay “My Madre, Pure as Cumulous Clouds,” from our February 2006 issue of new Mexican writing. In an opening straight out of noir, a (male) Mexican journalist says darkly, “It can be dangerous to say madre in Mexico,” and Bakewell sets out to investigate. She learns the worst way to offend...

PEN World Voices Festival As It Happened: Literary Quest: Westbeth Edition

Alexandre Vidal Porto reads from his novel Sergio Y. Photo: Bruna Dantas Lobato. I grabbed a map of the Westbeth Artists Housing in the West Village and traced a plan for the evening of salon-style readings, part of the PEN World Voices Festival. On Thursday, April 28, residents of Westbeth opened their homes to sixteen authors from around the world who would share their work. My quest for great literature began in apartment 954H, where Brazilian novelist Alexandre Vidal Porto sat in a...

PEN World Voices Festival As It Happened: Translation Slam

Michael F. Moore, Abdellah Taïa, Emma Ramadan, and Chris Clarke. Photo: Alex Zucker. At the Nuyorican Poets Cafe on Friday, April 29, Michael F. Moore hosted the Translation Slam for the PEN World Voices Festival. A festival favorite for nine years running, this year’s event featured WWB contributors Margaret B. Carson and Ezra E. Fitz translating Mexican poet Luis Felipe Fabre, and Chris Clarke and Emma Ramadan translating Moroccan novelist Abdellah Taïa. Luis Felipe Fabre,...

The City and the Writer: In Ramallah with Raja Shehadeh

Author Photo: Mariana Cook, 2010 Special Series: Literary Maps   “In two and a half decades one of the world’s treasures, this biblical landscape that would have seemed familiar to a contemporary of Christ, was being changed, in some parts beyond recognition . . . . As a child I used to hear how my grandfather, Judge Saleem, liked nothing more than coming to Ramallah in the hot summer and going on a sarha with his cousin, Abu Ameen, leaving behind the humid coastal city of...

The Old Man, the Mist, and a List of Dreams

Translated by Eric M. B. Becker Image: Guangzhou, Tomás Franco It’s early yet to write about China, it’s too late to write about China, it all depends on the true age of your soul (and this you’ll never know) so you offer your reader three options: a scene in some Cantonese town square, a prediction about what you might remember about The Script Road literary festival in Macau, or a guide to dreaming for the jet-lagged insomniac. 1. Image:...

PEN World Voices Festival As It Happened: Expats

Kwame Anthony Appiah, Jamaica Kincaid, Marlon James, Colum McCann, and Eric Banks. Photo: Bruna Dantas Lobato. The term “expatriate” is overburdened, too close to exile on the one hand and immigrant on the other. At the Instituto Cervantes on Wednesday, April 27, New York Institute for the Humanities director Eric Banks led a discussion on expat literature for the PEN World Voices Festival. The panel featured writers Jamaica Kincaid, Marlon James, Valeria Luiselli, Kwame...

Dispatches from the 2016 PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature

Photo: Bruna Dantas Lobato The PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature returned for its twelfth year. This year's focus was Mexican literature. Below are dispatches by Bruna Dantas Lobato, who covered the festival for WWB, and you can find WWB's itinerary and reading list here. APRIL 27, 2016 PEN World Voices Festival As It Happened: Expats With WWB contributor Valeria Luiselli, as well as Kwame Anthony...

On Cuban Time

A broad promenade runs up the middle of the leafy boulevard, still known to locals by its Spanish colonial name, Prado, that divides Old Havana from Central Havana. On weekends when the weather’s fine, artists offer their work to tourists there: black and white photographs of street scenes, etchings on handmade paper of dancing stovetop coffeepots, luscious Cuban women, Charlie Chaplin, Che Guevara, and Marilyn Monroe, oil paintings of cityscapes that always feature a classic car or two....

Project DreamReal

Herson Tissert Pérez reads “Project DreamReal.”  1 The individual who greeted me in the building’s lobby didn’t much resemble the one pictured in the advertising leaflets. He seemed less physically imposing, and his smile, cordial and welcoming in the leaflets, now struck me as that of a man with some kind of secret to conceal. Nevertheless, my excitement was so great that I followed him unhesitatingly down a network of hallways and staircases until,...

Swimming Upstream

“I don’t like ballet,” the doctor admitted. “OK,” Nicanor said, “but it’s different with me. It’s not that I don’t like sports, it’s that they don’t make any sense to me. Like I wouldn’t understand a salmon explaining why it has to migrate. I just don’t get a stadium full of people screaming with enthusiasm or outrage about eight guys who bang a leather ball around better than the other eight.”...

The Bleeding Hands of Castaways

To my love, the Tramontana wind that shook my life forever. A book is a bottle flung into the sea. I want my books to reach the bleeding hands of  castaways. —Samuel Feijóo I found an old mining asteroid of no interest to anyone, rented it for a few Federation kopeks, and built a bar that matches your eyes, though you’re not here. I searched through the tangle of collapsing tunnels until I came upon exactly the right space, its acoustics perfect for your voice. I...

Interstellar Biochocolate Mousse à la solitaire . . . For Two

For Erelvis Jiménez and Roberto Armas Saladrigas This exquisite dessert, so emblematic of our era of space conquest, dates back to the 2103 recipe by Iljon Tichy, though some detractors of the celebrated cosmonaut refuse to accept this theory on the grounds that there’s no mention of the now-legendary delicacy in any of the many volumes of Tichy’s well-known Star Diaries. Great is human envy . . . and extraterrestrial envy is even greater. What remains undisputed is...

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