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Articles tagged "German"

Small-town Novella

is it obvious when b’s gaze lingers on people in the schoolyard? there goes leif, being watched. how does it look to someone else? crazy? cheesy? b has known leif since twelfth grade, meaning they were separated from the others and sent to this school where they have a hundred and twenty classmates. then it’s down to pure chance whether old friendships slacken, stay firm, or fall apart at the seams. a high price to pay for a couple of “free” subject choices, limited...

translation

is there a zone of darkness between all languages, a black river, that swallows words and stories and transforms them? here sentences must disrobe, begin to roam, learn to swim, not lose the memory that nests in their bodies, a secret nucleus. will the columbine’s blue be a shade of violet when it reaches the other side, and the red bee balm become a pear, cinnamon- sweet? will my tench be missing a fin in the light of the new language? will it have to learn to crawl or to walk...

Heldenplatz

(Common room in a senior citizen home. Two elderly men in wheelchairs. The first is watching the one o’clock news, the second is devouring an apple pastry.) FIRST MAN: The nerve. Everyone cheers for him on the Heldenplatz and then he goes and cuts deals with the Russians. SECOND MAN: Yes, that was a mistake. But, come now, it was so long ago, at some point there’s got to be an end— FIRST MAN: That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about...

The First Thing I Saw

The first thing I saw when jolted from sleep was my father throwing books out of the window. He was dressed in the clothes he always wore at home, a sleeveless white undershirt and meticulously pressed dark blue trousers that matched the suit jacket he carelessly draped on a hook in the wardrobe as soon as the front door shut behind him. I’d woken with a start, it was night. In the harsh light, Father was standing at the window. He took one book after another from a pile and checked...

Getting Undressed, Yes, Getting Dressed, Too

Is it me? Am I next? No, you’re not next, no. No? I’m not? No, you’re not. No matter how many times you ask. You? And you? What about me? If you’re next? No? I’m not and you’re not. Neither of us is next. Whether you like it or not. Good. I thought so. No? What was it you thought, take your time, tell me what it was you thought, we’ve surely got long enough for that. That I was next, I thought. Or you. One of us. Me first and then you. I...

when speech left me

perhaps i was just drinking coffee or opening the newspaper. perhaps i was drawing the curtains or looking out onto the street when speech left me. still, i thought, what a rattling from deep in the wall, what a clattering in this room. no windowpanes shattered, no chairs toppled in the kitchen. the names on street signs vanished leaving only the ashes of letters. a tanker filled with words retreated above the houses, massive, silent, my swollen tongue twitched in my dry mouth. i escaped...

Fish Television

I was clouds transforming, a sinking billow. I wanted to stretch out; I threaded and spun myself across the ground floor to the tracks. In times of haphazard, interrupted sleep, I had always used the train station as my sleeping pill. The new ice-white high-speed train stood before the waiting passengers with its windows closed, a foreign being. No one knows what goes on inside its smooth skin. These creatures are called Schlingerlings in common parlance, after the nameless white snakes...

Translator Relay: Alta Price

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 August's installment, Allison Markin Powell passed the baton to Alta Price, who runs a publishing consultancy specialized in literature and nonfiction texts on art, architecture, design, and culture. She translates from Italian and German into English; recent publications include work by Corrado Augias, Germano...

From the Translator: How to Translate a Circle

The difficulty of translating a circle is not the geometry. In an analog age, I might have written my English version on a turntable. Indeed, Simone Kornappel’s mystifying poem “as a mouse” most resembles a vinyl record: a discus that flaunts its Platonic form before exposing its outlandish sound. The poem even skips midway. And, like a 45-rpm single, it closes with a gaping hole after the final chord. As my eyes revolved around the exuberant lyrics, I traced a chain of...

Introduction: Emerging German Writers

For a long time, a large photo hung above the stage at Berlin’s Literary Colloquium, shot by Renate von Mangoldt and showing a meeting of the writers’ group Gruppe 47 there in 1965. Rows and rows of frowning white men in suits, fading into the background, the tobacco smoke almost tangible. That’s the image I have in my mind, I hope falsely, when I imagine how readers think of German writing. This issue of Words without Borders is dedicated to emerging German writers. It...

You Turn Your Head, I Turn My Head

blue The way I spend all morning just thinking: blue! No way is this here blue. You must have been crazy or had some kind of color disability or been a total joker to call this green blue, to insist for years, stubborn as a mule and absolutely serious, that there was an ocean-blue sofa in this room. The way I sit here and shake my head and think: it’s crazy, it’s incredible, crazy blue! The way I sit here and think: all that’s left over, all it is is this totally green...

Rickshaw Diaries

August 27, 2014 Lucky Punch My second novel Deutscher Meister is about how the professional boxer Heinrich Trollmann beat the Nazis; it was published by Hoffmann und Campe in 2014. As I was writing the last chapter, researching liver punches, those ending in K.O. and those not, and how differently and yet specifically to the liver punch the recipients fall, and what kind of pain they feel, and how liver punches take effect on the inside, in anatomical terms, I worked out where a...

The Translator Relay: Tess Lewis

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 May's installment, Donald Nicholson-Smith passed the baton to Tess Lewis, who is a translator from French and German, in addition to being an essayist and critic. Her translations include works by Peter Handke, Alois Hotschnig, Doron Rabinovici, Pascal Bruckner, E. M. Cioran, Jean-Luc Benoziglio, Anselm Kiefer, and...

Otfried Preussler’s “Krabat and the Sorcerer’s Mill”

Like many of the classic children’s books being reissued by New York Review Books, Krabat & the Sorcerer’s Mill by Otfried Preussler has the potential to appeal to readers of various ages: nostalgia-seekers who enjoyed Anthea Bell’s excellent translation when it was first published in the 1970s, and young aficionados of fantasy fiction who’ll be happy to discover, in teenage hero Krabat, a worthy progenitor to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and Christopher...

Englishing Vladimir Vertlib

Vladimir Vertlib (b. 1966 in Leningrad) is a contemporary Austrian writer. Reviewers in the German press have had trouble putting a label on him, referring to him alternately as a “Russian writer,” an “Austrian Russian,” a “Russian living in Austria,” a “Jewish-German writer of Russian origin,” a “German Jew,” an “Israeli living in Germany,” and even, dismayingly, as a “Hebrew author.” He himself makes no...

Translator Relay: Breon Mitchell

What is your connection to the language(s) you translate from and/or the place(s) where the books you translate are written? I grew up on the plains of Kansas and had no knowledge at all with any foreign language until I took beginning German in high school. I assume Mr. Goering, our teacher, was of German descent (I had never heard of that other Goering, and so could not find the situation ironic), but with the exception of Mr. Goedicke, who made a wrought-iron table...

The Translator Relay: Ross Benjamin

Our "Translator Relay" series features a new interview each month. This month's translator will choose the next interviewee, adding a different, sixth question. This month, Peter Constantine passed the baton to writer and German translator Ross Benjamin, a 2003-2004 Fulbright scholar, 2010 winner of Helen and Kurt Wolffs Translator Prize, and 2012 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship recipient to translate Clemens J. Setz's The Frequencies.   What is your...

Pulse beyond the Horizon

After the water, there was nothing. And if you looked long enough at the horizon, you could make out a stillness that transformed when the waves crashed against the rig's legs and the rusted steel platform began to sway. The drill ate through layers of limestone into the earth's interior, it probed deep beneath the seabed while the reel on the drill floor rotated ceaselessly, and we, in twelve-hour shifts, stood by at the ready to connect more tubing to the well. The Gulf of...

Fun in German, or How Much Glue Is In This Glühwein?

I am extremely fortunate to count Dagmara Kraus, the poet whose work I translate, as a friend. Dagmara was born in Poland, lives in Germany, and speaks four languages fluently (English among them). We communicate regularly by email and Skype, discussing work, publication, penury, and other writerly matters in a bumpy and high-velocity mash-up of English and German, often switching between languages mid-sentence. We also tend to insert words from one language into the other, as...

from “A Garden in the North”

Dr. Heidegger, the adjunct lecturer, lived in a rented room on a back courtyard off the Friedrichstrasse, above a brothel, and one can say that he kept an open house. At the age of seventeen, with a high-school diploma in his pocket, Heidegger had fled the parental spinning mill in a valley in the Swabian Alps with only two goals in mind: to exchange that provincial fustiness for the big city, and to learn languages. First, however, he had to get himself exempted from military service...

The World of Men and the World of Women

Walter had no luck with women. He had tried to write monologues and essays on this subject, and had even pulled off a noteworthy sentence here and there, but on the whole he came up with only commonplaces, of which he later felt ashamed. It occurred to him that he basically did not understand women, that they fascinated and irritated him, and even though he had now and then been lucky enough to be with one, he could not shake the feeling of expecting too much of them. At first things had...

from “The Final Cut”

The four of them dragged the pig on the short ladder and lifted it onto the trestles in front of the sty. Their teeth clenched, the three men watched the woman, Diana Kampradt, the butcher.  “The stove door,” she instructed Sabine in the washhouse, “leave it ajar, so that there’s a draft, small pieces of wood, really get the steam going and keep on adding water, so that it doesn’t boil.” Outside, the butcher poured a bucket of cold water over...

What I Wish For Myself

Of Wonder's songs the saddest about the downfall of New York City played on a record player in Hester Street of Brecht's poems the most beautiful written in the Charité 2 days before his death about the song of the blackbirds after his death of Shakespeare's plays the strangest about the prince behind the screen of his madness enslaved by rationalism and a tedious ghost of the nights the brightest in front of the KaDeWe the newspaperladies go their ways the...

from “Man Angel”

Endless, the levee. Endless, the dead straight path. Endless, the whirring of the bicycle tires on the asphalt, the whistling of the wind in their ears and the high, bare, immutable blue of the sky over their heads. Endless, the blazing hole of the sun, the shimmer of the heat over the fields and the cruelty of midsummer in the afternoon, when the greasy coating of sweat, dust, and sunscreen begins to drip from their faces onto the handlebars, and each revolution of the pedals climbs with...

Internet Life

On virtual seas I surf recklessly in every shape that I invent for myself omnipotent God among Gods mercifully I submerge a vulnerable fate create the world i seven seconds disappear into whoever’s story that only the mouse knows I erase death with one key and save beauty youth immortality For a while I don’t crash into life  

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