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Articles tagged "Literature"

WWB Campus: Call for Educators

Are you a teacher of English, world literature, global history, or a related subject? Do you enjoy the literature published in Words without Borders and want to use it in your classroom? Sign up to be part of a new round of pilots for Words Without Borders Campus, WWB's online education initiative. Words Without Borders Campus presents exciting texts from WWB's monthly magazine, organized by country and by theme; alongside each piece of literature are multimedia contextual...

Crafting a Cultural Idiom of Engagement: The US President’s Persian Poetry (Part 1)

The events culminating in the interim agreement between Iran and the members of the P5+1 group in Lausanne, Switzerland over Iran’s nuclear program are sure to attract historians wishing to understand how two countries with minimal diplomatic ties (severed more than three decades ago) were able to reach a political agreement and perhaps begin a chapter of more normalized relations. In particular, analyses are likely to focus on the role of sanctions, meant to isolate the Iranian...

Best Translated Book Award Fiction Longlist Announced

Three Percent, the resource for international literature based at the University of Rochester, has announced the fiction longlist for the 2012 Best Translated Book Awards. The twenty-five nominees include books by WWB authors David Albahari, Sergio Chejfec, Johan Harstad, Dany Laferrière, Inka Parei, Thomas Pletzinger, and Magdalena Tulli, and translators Thomas Beebee, Ross Benjamin, Margaret B. Carson, Deborah Dawkin, Ellen Elias-Bursać, David Homel, and Bill Johnston. We...

A New Series: Literary Journeys Through Catalonia

Throughout history writers have, again and again, undertaken journeys—journeys of the mind and actual journeys, traveling across their respective homelands as well as exploring more distant, foreign territories. They have traveled, one could argue, to feel captivated and reinvigorated by a sense of discovery, and perhaps even to make sense of the apparent chaos of the human condition by observing its nuanced manifestations through a variety of cultures and landscapes.  The...

Seizing Cervantes

When it all began, that is, when the Skeptic Party rose to power in the United Kingdom, in 2070, I was completely in favor. The group’s plan to completely forbid religious practice pleased me greatly. I was brought up in an intellectual environment, the son of a family that never believed in any god and always associated the religious figure with some guy with a double-digit IQ or a fanatical human bomb. I admit, I voted for the Skeptic Party as soon as it came into existence. But...

The Zacharias Ascaris Affair

It all began five years ago, going on six. Ballast Publishing, a fledgling British publishing house, had just launched the first (and last) novel of its catalog, The Zacharias Ascaris Affair. No one, absolutely no one, could have foreseen the upheaval that this book would set in motion. Admittedly, the adventures of the young Zacharias Ascaris, though narrated with an undeniable flair for suspense, were in no way extraordinary. A group of adolescents, a few twists, a love story, a touch...

Translation and the Teaching of Literature

In my first post, I suggested that translators' efforts in the sphere of education might have a transformative effect on the understanding and appreciation of the work of translation. In my second, I focused on the domain of foreign language teaching as one place where such efforts might bear fruit. Several people commented and asked questions about these posts, and I promise to respond to their questions in a subsequent post. But first I would like to turn to another educational sphere...

Translation and Proficiency Language Teaching

In a previous post, I suggested that the covers of books make for rather poor soil in which to cultivate an appreciation for translated contemporary literature among the general English-reading public. Of course the essential work of translators should be recognized whenever possible, on covers and title pages, and in bios, prefaces, reviews, and interviews. But if highlighting the fact of a book's having been translated makes it less likely that readers will be interested in it, less...

On Etgar Keret

Phillip Lopate's essay was included in the accompanying booklet to WWB's March 5th event at the Idlewild bookstore in New York City. It is also part of our ongoing discussion of Etgar Keret's Girl on the Fridge, all this March, moderated by Adam Rovner.—Editors Like any magician worth his salt, Etgar Keret starts with mundane objects and familiar scenarios, then transforms them into utterly unpredictable shapes. Sometimes the magic is white, sometimes black: if the...

From “Paris–Athens”

To my father I. Silence I don't know when I started to write this book. I know that today is the 9th, I'm looking in my datebook: Sunday, November 9th, 1986, St. Theodore's day—no, I'm off by a week, today is only the 2nd, All Souls Day. I would have preferred to start on the 9th—Theodore is a Greek name. Oh, well; the Day of the Dead isn't bad, either. Actually, I didn't begin this book today. A year ago, perhaps. Perhaps twenty-five years ago,...

Francisco Goldman on Roberto Bolaño’s “2666”

This essay was originally featured in the accompanying booklet to Francisco Goldman and Natasha Wimmer's December 4, 2008 discussion of Roberto Bolaño's 2666, held at the Idlewild bookstore in New York City. Natasha Wimmer's essay can be found here—Editors The first Roberto Bolaño novel I read was Estrella Distante. It was Aura's copy and we were at the beach in Mazunte, and I read it pretty much in one sitting, with a few breaks to go in the water....

Esterházy Per Se: A Translator’s Ball Game with a Postmodern Author

Just as there are user-friendly computers (they don't delete your latest text when you didn't mean to press the delete button, a dream!), user-friendly ovens (they ring when the roast is ready), and user-friendly scissors (left-handed!), so there are translator-friendly authors. And then, again, not. Some authors thumb their noses at the difficulties they are creating for the translator, and they are right to do so; their job is to write, the translator's is to translate. And...

An Interview with Péter Esterházy

Péter Esterházy is one of Hungary's foremost contemporary novelists, having won literary distinctions both at home and abroad. A number of his works, including Helping Verbs of the Heart, The Book of Hrabal, She Loves Me, and A Little Hungarian Pornography have all been translated into English. In this interview, we speak about some of the predominant themes in Esterházy's literature, particularly family and language. Esterházy hails from a long line...

The A to Z of Literary Translation: W, X, Y & Z

Worldwide web development and the long-tail phenomenon offer new opportunities for the visibility of literary translation. Electronic translation software is to be avoided. Postcolonial and new immigrant writing benefit from cross-frontier digital exchange. And lesser known cultures and languages can become more familiar to wider audiences—Ala Al Aswany's runaway seller The Yacoubian Building (translated by Humphrey Davies), comes to mind.   Xenophobia feeds off ignorance...

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...

The A to Z of Literary Translation

Whilst writing about English PEN's "Writers in Translation" committee, of which I am a member—tapping into my experiences as an editor, agent and publicist—the idea of doing a fun, but far from definitive listing, the A to Z Of Literary Translation, came to mind. oOo Artistry and adaptation are essential to the process of literary translation, since translation is an act of writing. Also accuracy and avoiding short cuts based on the íwhen in doubt, cut it outë...

The Man Who Killed the Writer

First things first: I didn't write the book everyone thinks I wrote, the one that has been showering me with fame and riches since its publication, just over one year go. Although many people might find that strange—while others might say, I knew it, he never fooled me—the work was entirely finished when I found it, scattered in scrawls all over the walls of an apartment just like my own: all I did was edit it. They Kill Writers, Don't They? was written by a fellow...

The Many Masks of Max Mirebelais

Roberto Bolaño's Nazi Literature in the Americas presents itself as a biographical dictionary of American writers who flirted with or espoused extreme right-wing ideologies in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It is a tour de force of black humor and imaginary erudition. The novel is composed of short biographies, including descriptions of the writers' works. All of the writers are imaginary, although they are all carefully and credibly situated in real literary...

“The reader casts his shadow over the poem”

The reader casts his shadow over the poem. What did you actually say: The vase is here or The sky is blue? All possibilities bloom in language, the mind hears but what it wants to or what it fears. The deaf man laments. The vase is here and The sky is blue in some ways are one and the same. In some ways and in some people a riddle is fathomable, the answer a sparkle. The sparkle solves it. Nearness defines it. Translation of "Luuletusele langeb lugeja...

Galaktioni and I

Yesterday, I was sick, I was dying, Now Zozia must have me on her mind. There's a demon in Galaktioni But there's an angel in me. Every day I receive precious letters. I must go to the garden, today's cold is bitter. The earth gleams in Galaktioni But there's a heavenly spark in me. Far away, the wind shrieks; nearby, a nemesis. Night's falling; it's seven sharp. There's blue in Galaktioni But in my verse, the abyss. Yesterday, I was...

A Splinter

I like you a twenty-year old poet writes to me. A beginning carpenter of words. His letter smells of lumber. His muse still naps in rose wood. Ambitious noise in a literary sawmill. Apprentices veneer a gullible tongue. They cut to size the shy plywood of sentences. A haiku whittled with a plane. Problems begin with a splinter lodged in memory. It is hard to remove it much harder to describe. Wood shavings fly. Laminate angels. Dust up to the heavens....

The Best Seller

On the phone he said he was a young writer who wished to speak with a representative of Ilhéu Publishing and, for lack of anyone else at the time, I made myself available to see him. Shortly afterward a man of indeterminate age introduced himself. Ceremonious, humble, weighing each word, he extended almost fearfully a timid hand. (I wondered whether that was the attitude of all authors when they approach a publisher for the first time.) He was carrying a crumpled plastic bag that,...

The Best Seller

He described himself down the phone as a young writer who was keen to meet with a representative of Ilhéu Publishing, and in the absence of anyone else at that moment I agreed to receive him. Shortly afterwards a man of indeterminate years was announced. Rather formal, modest, weighing every word, almost fearful, he held his hand out to me hesitantly. (I wondered whether all authors behaved like this when meeting a publisher for the first time?) He had brought with him a crumpled...

The 2007 Book Clubs are Here!

2007 Words Without Borders/Reading the World BOOK CLUBS ARE HERE ALL ARE INVITED TO READ, COMMENT, AND PARTICIPATE RTW BOOK CLUBS 2007 LINEUP: JANUARY and FEBRUARY James Marcus and Cynthia Haven, Collected Poems by Zbigniew Herbert (tr. Alissa Valles) James Marcus introduces Zbigniew Herbert Cynthia Haven interviews Peter Dale Scott Peter Dale Scott talks about translating Herbert's "Pebble" with Czesław Miłosz Anna Frajlich discusses human...

Ars Poetica

Poetry Forgive me for having helped you see you are not made of words alone.

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