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Articles tagged "Italian"

The True Story of “Faccetta Nera”

“I was on a TV talk show the other day, and something curious happened.” Those are the opening words of a Facebook post that Maryan Ismail, an Italo-Somali political activist, published recently. The curious thing that happened occurred in a television studio. Maryan, who is a longtime political activist working in Milan, has made up her mind to express her defiance of racism by speaking openly everywhere she can, including on TV. Of course, she doesn’t talk about...

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...

Translating as Transformative Experience: Columbia’s Word for Word

For the fourth year in a row, Columbia University’s School of the Arts hosted a reading to celebrate Word for Word, an exchange program that brings together pairs of writers from different countries and languages to translate each other’s work. For the past three years, Columbia students collaborated with German counterparts. This year, they partnered with students from Scuola Holden in Turin, Italy and Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. The American...

Suono e Significato: On Being Translated into Italian

While completing my MFA in Creative Writing at George Mason University, I took a wonderful course with Jennifer Atkinson entitled, “Poetry in Translation.” I loved reading about how various translators worked, and the rationales behind their linguistic decisions. I even produced a few semi-competent translations of the French Great War poet Guillaume Apollinaire. My French language skills were rusty at best: I labored over those pages with a huge French-to-English dictionary. In...

Scandal

This excerpt comes from Aldo Nove's recent novel, All the Light of the World, about the life of St. Francis of Assisi (San Francesco), largely as seen through the eyes of his nephew, Piccardo. The excerpt includes three non-sequential chapters from Part One, titled “Scandal.” As Aldo Nove writes in his note to the novel, "The existence of Piccardo is documented, but we know almost nothing about him. He appears in thirteenth-century Assisi notary...

The World Between: Writing from Ethiopia and Italy

Ethiopia has historically been a closed country, shielded by difficult geography and fiercely protective leaders who mistrusted the ever-invasive, ever-greedy foreigners that did manage to come in. In 1896, the great Battle of Adwa proved to the world that the small African nation could fight off—and defeat—an invading European army (Italy) with colonial aspirations. Ethiopia remained independent. Forty years later, in 1935, Benito Mussolini reminded his people of Adwa as his...

How \“To Algeria, with Love\” became \“La Repubblica di Wally\”

Einaudi bought the Italian rights to my novel before it had an English language publisher, editor, or even a title. Work on the translation began last summer, around the time the book was published in the UK by Virago as To Algeria, with Love. As luck would have it, my husband and I were in southern Italy last summer for an extended stay, and the translator, Lucia Olivieri, was close enough for us to meet and share thoughts.  Hers were blunt. “They gave your book a terrible...

Tana

The rain began that morning. Tana was coming home from school. Thursday afternoons they had sewing class, and now on the bus, she realized this was the first day she'd left school in the dark. It would go on like this for months. It was cold out, raining, and the bus, jammed with boys and girls, with students, was steaming hot. The windows were fogged up; someone had managed to pry one open, and Tana, already sweaty, was freezing. She thought: I might get sick, stay home a week. She...

Moving Like Geckos

I study him while he smokes, lying back, arm behind his head. I watch him release the smoke, breathe it back in and out, thinner now. He’s focused on something in the room but I can’t tell what, maybe my family photos—my mother, my father, the twins—or maybe the cubist still-life painting Donatella gave me. Or maybe he’s not looking at anything at all, just as high as his eyes can reach in this room that’s only twenty meters square. I study him, study...

Making a Scene

When I was little I watched a lot of movies, because my mother was always making shirts, my father was painting his pictures to sell, and so to let them work in peace, my grandmother, my mother’s mother, would take us to the Stadium movie house and keep us there, me and my brothers, for two movies back-to-back, the four o’clock and the six o’clock shows. I really liked watching my mother cut along the line to the paper pattern pinned to the cloth, and I liked it even...

from “Dream Diary”

Marcello had just pulled up the last tent stake with a hammer and Monica’s ice ax when he saw something on the stake that left him stunned. The stake, like the others, was thirty centimeters long, metal, and pointed on one end and slightly hooked on the other, so it could be pounded down with the hammer. After he’d pushed the stakes through the elastic loops on all four corners of the nylon tent, Marcello drove them into the ground with the hammer, and now—exactly nine...

from “The Revenge of Capablanca”

The match was held in an arena, semicircular in shape, behind the town hall. They set the table and chessboard at the center of the back line. The audience crammed in up front. Most people sat on wood and wrought-iron bleachers. The younger men stood at the back. The children took over the empty patch of ground between the first row of bleachers and the two challengers. But not one child moved or made a sound. This was the same place, two years before, that their fathers took them to...

from “As Far As We Can See”

In other words, the young man concluded, even an intelligent person can happen to say something stupid now and then! He paused briefly, then continued in the same self-assured tone of gentle pleasantry: My God, I suppose the inverse is probably true as well . . . He stopped himself again. But, he said, lowering his voice just slightly, we have yet to hear the opinion of Professor Berlingieri. The insult was so unexpected and brutal that numerous eyes from both sides of the...

Dino Buzzati’s “Poem Strip”

“To me, painting is not a hobby, but a job—writing is my hobby. But painting and writing are ultimately the same thing for me. Whether I write or paint, I pursue the same goal—telling stories.” The avant-garde Italian writer Dino Buzzati is better known as the author of the existentialist masterpiece The Tartar Steppe, a novel. However, he was also a skilful painter and illustrator - his talent became apparent with the evocative, beautifully crafted color plates of...

A Surprising Tale in the Form of an Alphabet

They say that the monks of eight or nine hundred centuries ago often had to face unenthusiastic, occasionally hostile audiences, who were most reluctant to follow the steps of a theological proof or of a moral sermon, and that the Alphabeta exemplorum was born out of that difficulty and the need to overcome it. What the monks did was to share out the weight of the discourse equally, so that each of the twenty or so letters of the corresponding alphabet would bear some of that weight on...

Scheherazade, C’est Moi? An Interview with Amara Lakhous

Algeria was imploding into civil war in 1993 when Amara Lakhous, born in 1970 in Algiers, wrote his first novel. But no bombs go off in The Bedbugs and the Pirate, the inner monologue of a Gogolian forty- year-old post office clerk who is about to lose his job, having already lost his fiancée, his apartment, and his prospects for a life worth living. Sad stuff, but the book is laugh-out-loud funny. On his way to the brothel he visits every Thursday, religiously , the...

from “How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone”

The promise a dam must keep, what the most beautiful language in the world sounds like, and how often a heart must beat to beat shame Francesco rented a room from old Mirela and moved in opposite, and old Mirela unpacked her dusty make-up, saw that the powder was crumbly and the lipstick no use any more, bought herself new make-up that very same day, and fiddled around with the tomatoes in her garden, her cheeks all rosy. You had a good view into Francesco's room from the garden. On...

The Silence of the Outcasts: An Interview with Dacia Maraini

(Pescasseroli, Easter 2005) To meet with Dacia Maraini and speak with her in peace means going up to the bitter and severe lands of Abruzzo where the writer, who lives in Rome, takes refuge during holidays and in summer. This March, Easter concludes a winter of polar temperatures and the snow in the National Park of Abruzzo remains plentiful. Dacia Maraini loves cross-country skiing and walking in the woods; this is her natural realm, and she settles here to write her books in solitude...

from “Colomba”

A character knocked on the door of the woman with short hair. Tapping timidly with her knuckles, the character entered the room without making a sound. She's a modestly dressed mountain woman. On her feet she wears sturdy little boots. She sat down on the edge of the seat and stayed there in silence, letting the coffee cool on the table in front of her. She seemed embarrassed and ashamed but determined to stay. Then slowly, toward evening, after eating a bowl of soup and drinking a...

Other Destinations

When I was eight years old I decided to run away from home. There's no sense explaining why right now. Maybe some other time. Let's just say that where I used to live, on via Vincenzo Gemito 64, staircase B, apartment 12, my childhood fears were so real that they chased away the storybook fears I would have gladly braved-a shipwreck, a leap over an abyss, a fire-breathing dragon-which would make a brief appearance, subside, and sneak away. So I made my plans. Basta! I...

From All About My Grandmother

Nonna has always invented words, Mama does too, and so do I. Nonna invented nicknames and, by rebaptizing certain individuals, ennobled them in my eyes, making them into figures of distinction. Nonna has jumbled together the words of all the places she has known. They aren't worldly words-she never traveled much-but words of the Marches, and they were enough for her. More than enough, so that Mama too, and I as well, still feel her words on the tip of our tongues. They are words...

La Terra Santa

I Insane asylum is a word much bigger than the dark vortex of dreams, yet it used to come once upon blue thread or a distant nightingale's song or your mouth opened, biting at the blue the fierce untruth of life. Or an invalid's ruthless hand slowly climbed your window syllabifying your name and when the foul number was finally loose you rediscovered all the seriousness of your life. II Affori, a distant town buried in filth, here you know beams and bolts and...

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