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Articles tagged "Catalan Literature"

The Hungry Years in Catalonia: An Interview with Peter Bush about “Black Bread”

Black Bread, one of the major novels of Catalan literature, makes its appearance in English in the Biblioasis International Translation Series this month, in a translation by Peter Bush. Series editor Stephen Henighan asked Bush about the narrative world of the novel’s author, Emili Teixidor, who grew up in rural Catalonia under fascist occupation. Stephen Henighan (SH): As soon as you begin reading Black Bread, you’re aware that you’re in the presence of a major work of...

Adam Gerber’s Good-bye

I Adam Gerber says good morning:                                                             “Good morning, trees, good morning, sky, good morning, morning;...

Terra Incognita

I plugged my poem into a manhole cover That flamed into the first guitar, Jarred the asphalt and tar to ash, And made from where there once was Ground a sound instead to stand on.   "Terra Incognita" from The Ground by Rowan Ricardo Phillips. © 2012 by Rowan Ricardo Phillips. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. 

An Interview with Najat El Hachmi

Words Without Borders speaks with Moroccan-Catalan writer Najat El Hachmi about language, identity, and the possibilities and limits of translation. Writer Najat El Hachmi (left) and her novel La filla estrangera (right) Najat El Hachmi was born in Morocco in 1979 and moved with her family to Catalonia at age eight. She has a degree in Arab Studies from the University of Barcelona, and has published one nonfiction book—Jo també sóc...

New Fiction in Translation: From “The Boys”

The following is an excerpt from Toni Sala's short novel The Boys, translated by Mara Faye Lethem and out November 10 from Two Lines Press. The novel opens in the once-bucolic Catalonian village of Vidreres. Ravaged by a harsh recession, the town now has to come to grips with the death of two of its young men in a horrible car crash. The selection below follows one of the novel's four principal characters, a brutish trucker who, in between...

Translating Tweets from the Catalan Independence Movement

Liz Castro (@lizcastro) on the Power of Multilingual Social Networks  Muira McCammon probes the corners and crevices of cyberspace to better understand the political, legal, ethical, spatial, and ideological challenges involved in translating individual Tweets. She's interested in efforts to theorize the web as an increasingly multilingual space, despite ongoing language barriers and digital divides.  While exploring the interplay between censorship and social media, she...

Musical Beds, Catalan Style

If you've finished the issue and are still in the mood, check out Empar Moliner's rollicking "Invention of the Aspirin" in our October 2007 Catalan issue. A bored wife finds she has the ability to slip into other women's identities—and their bedrooms. Shapeshifting from secretary to teen to porn star, and whirling in and of bed with, among others, her daughter's boyfriend and the president, she embraces this cure for her ennui. The result is inevitable and (at least...

A Stitch in Time

The mossos came this morning. I’d been expecting them for days. When I opened the door, they were still out of breath. That’s not unusual. Visitors get to my seventh-floor attic apartment on their last legs, as there’s no elevator. The stairs have high steps and are an effort to climb, and rather than taking them calmly, like Carmeta and me, they must have rushed at them hellbent for leather, like a couple of lunatics. I expect their uniforms set the neighbors’...

Landscape with Strikers

At nine a.m. the few people standing around on the subway platform are watching the news on the screens provided by the Barcelona Channel. The trains comply scrupulously with the minimum-service laws. They are running half-empty and many seats are unoccupied, which would be unthinkable at this time of day any other day, when occupancy approaches that of sardines in a can. In front of the Goya Theater, at the top of Joaquín Costa, there are fewer whores than usual. Perhaps in...

My Brother

Midway through Christmas dinner one year, absent any illness or prior warning that might have led us to suspect some problem with his health—not even a tiny, unobtrusive one—my brother died. He had never been a very active kid. He had frequent dizzy spells, and he didn’t like to play soccer or get drunk with the guys when we went to the Chinese restaurant back behind the school (not so much because the food was cheap as because they would bring us little glasses of...

The Game

It’s the son’s idea: he’ll hide in an armoire and, when his father walks by, he’ll jump out and scare him. The boy opens the doors, clambers under the lowest shelf, and, from inside, silently closes them. After a while, he hears his father’s voice. At first he calls him in a normal tone of voice. Soon, it becomes more uneasy. Back and forth through the house, the father repeats his son’s name, with increasing volume, increasing irritation. When, judging...

Immolation

Husband and wife contemplate the silhouette of the tower. The woman feels particularly affectionate, and she hugs her husband. "I really wanted to make this trip." They kiss. The husband caresses his wife's hair. They look at the tower again. "What time do we have to be in Florence?" the woman asks. "In the evening. Are you hungry? Should we get the car and go have lunch someplace close by?" "Yes, but let's go to the top of the tower first." "The tower? No way."...

from “Such Small Hands”

Everything was different at the zoo. It all started at the zoo: the smell of the zoo, the nervous excitability as we stepped off the minibus. All that was new: the zoo. All that was violent: the zoo. And to think that the whole world can be contained in one fang, and that that fang can be seen in an animal’s mouth, and it’s white, and made to sink into flesh, and that the wolf, who is bad in real life, looks good when he’s in his cage…And to sense that they were made for each...

Honesty

The nurse walks into Room 93 pushing a cart carrying a tray with a glass of water, a jar of capsules, a thermometer, and a file folder rest. She says "Good evening" and approaches the patient's bed. He lies there with his eyes closed. She looks at him with no particular interest, consults the clipboard at the foot of the bed where the instructions are written, takes a capsule out of the jar she brought in on the cart and, as she picks up the glass of water, says: "Mr. Rdz, it's...

Then

Then with her hands she’d crown her son’s head, then with her arms she’d embrace him,      then with her fingers she’d pluck out his eyes, then with her teeth she’d gnaw his liver, then with motherly claws    she’d shred his memories, then with her nipples she’d nourish him on the milk of hatred, then with her tongue, she’d insist, Lord, Lord, I’m only doing this for love, because...

Shave

Observe yourself in the mirror, unchanged yet strange, still shaggy with sleep, startled at seeing your likeness. These wrinkles, these graying temples that you’ve already accepted gracefully —affable guests who showed up so suddenly, that you can’t quite recall            just when they initially appeared. They represent the shameless price required for this fictitious intimacy with the body. And now, begin to...

Thirty Lines

The writer begins typing cautiously. He has to write a short story. Lately everyone’s talking about the virtues of short fiction, but he, if he were honest, would confess that he detests stories in general, and short ones in particular. Still, not wanting to miss a trick, he’s been forced to join the ranks of prevaricators who feign enthusiasm for brevity. That’s why he’s terrified at how lightly his fingers skip across the keys, one word followed by another, then...

The Fork

This takes place one radiant Sunday in April, in a restaurant in a town at the foot of a mountain on which there is still snow at the peak. At lunchtime, when the majority of tables are still empty, two couples, nearer to sixty than to fifty, arrive. One of the men walks into the dining room engrossed in a sports paper. It’s clear that they come to this restaurant a lot, because they greet the owner informally, kiss cheeks and talk about how long it’s been since they’ve...

Brine

I wake up with an overwhelming urge to cry, but, since today’s going to be a busy day, I decide to cry later. I leave for the office and arrive just in time for the first meeting of the day. While the general manager reads a report about increased costs and reduced expenses (or vice versa), I draw a hammer and sickle on a notepad. There is a sack of tears still rolling around in my stomach and, sooner or later, I’ll have to pop it. Once in my office, I choose suppliers...

The Silence of Abraham Bomba

Images of a hair salon. Opposing mirrors multiply these images, the chairs, the men waiting in back, the barbers busy, on their feet, great white aprons knotted around their customers' necks. Over these images, Abraham Bomba's voice. He was selected to be part of the Sonderkommando when he arrived at Treblinka. A barber by profession, he was chosen, with others, four weeks after the first selection, to cut women's hair before these women were gassed. For a week or ten days,...

Summer

She stopped in front of a shop window full of umbrellas, and her friend, who was walking ahead of her, suddenly turned around: "Carme, we'll get separated!" Her name was Carme. He had followed them all the way from Travessera de Gràcia—the street where he had worked for eleven years—to Pàdua. Now, as he leaned over the railing on the balcony off the gallery, he could still see the sheer, pearl-gray dress with the very pale pink—almost...

Happiness

Last night, before falling asleep, she had realized winter was almost over. "No more cold," she thought, stretching out between the sheets. As if from a limpid world, the clear sounds of the night reached her, restored to their original purity. The ticking of the clock, almost imperceptible during the day, filled the room with a nervous throb, causing her to imagine a clock in a land of giants. The steps on the pavement seemed to her like those of an assassin, or a madman escaped from an...

A Tongue of Lead

There are nights when dreams run stories one into another, preventing the sleeper from making a clean break between scenes that strange actors link together in his head, and so it seems that the night has been no more than the prolongation of a day that gradually has made the light disappear to make room for this palpable life shadow of that which is real. Nightmares to make your legs shudder and to talk about when awake, bare hints of laughter on the threshold of wakefulness, feeling the...

Field of Battle, Field of Fruit

Spreading out like a dense forest, shaking and rippling like a field of corn combed by the north wind, a hypnotic wave, a river above craggy peaks, the flock is like a cloud-filled sky when a storm is mounting, when more than a thousand eyes are needed to encompass them all or none, so as not to see them at all, and hear the simultaneous fluttering and fashioning of this hologram, the flock above, a whole mirror. "Do birds float?" "Yes, of course they float," his father says, "and see...

Ice Cream

"Here you are, which do you want: lemon-yellow or rose-pink?" He had bought two ice creams and with a sad look on his face was offering them to her so she could choose. The woman at the cart pocketed the money he had just handed her and was already serving other customers, all the while calling out: "Best ice cream in town." It was always the same: as the moment of parting approached, it seemed as if a bucket of sadness was being poured over him and he would hardly utter a word during...

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