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2018 at WWB: 11 Groundbreaking Works

By Susan Harris

Like the French, who celebrate the holiday season into Epiphany and offer bonne années till the end of January, we’re extending our traditional year-end observations into the beginning of the new year and spotlighting some of the groundbreaking writing we presented in 2018. From Vietnam to Kazakhstan, these pieces offer global literary perspectives on racism, aging, feminism, class, and corruption; discuss little-known literary cultures; and inspire us to read beyond our horizons. 


A revealing portrait of the casual brutality of the caste system in India

From our October Dalit issue, Suraj Batiiya shows a sausagemaker’s son parlay his experience into a supersized career in “Gujji,” translated by John Vater.


Image: Tejubehan, “Women and Bicycles,” from Drawing from the City, © Tara Books Pvt LTD


The first appearance in English of novels by two neglected twentieth-century Argentine women writers 

From our April Argentina issue, Norah Lange observes a woman spying on, then becoming involved with, her neighbors in People in the Room, translated by Charlotte Whittle. And Sara Gallardo finds a retiree at sea in every sense of the word in Things Happen, translated by Jessica Sequeira.


Three women translators of classical literature discuss their approaches to the canon

Alta L. Price speaks with Emily Wilson (Homer’s The Odyssey), Sholeh Wolpé (Attar’s The Conference of the Birds), and Arshia Sattar (Valmiki’s The Ramayana).


Image: Emily Wilson, Sholeh Wolpé, and Arshia Sattar


An illuminating account of the racism suffered by Brazilians of African descent

From our December Afro-Brazilian issue, Afonso Henriques de Lima Barreto watches an attempted mugging turn into a confrontation with identity in “Black Teeth and Blue Hair,” translated by Eric M. B. Becker. 


An inside look at contemporary Vietnamese poetry

From our November Vietnam issue, Nhã Thuyên explores the underground poetry movement in “(Un)contextualizing Underground Poetry: Reimagining a Critical Community,” translated by David Payne.


Image: Do Thanh Lang, Emotion Chart 5, April 2014. 


A portrait of both the struggle of Kazakhstan in the post-Soviet world and the prejudice against the Kazakh language among the Russian-speaking elite 

From our January Kazakh feature, Zaure Batayeva’s “Dismissed,” translated by the author and Shelley Fairweather-Vega, follows a teacher fighting the corruption and scorn of the education system.


An exploration of a persecuted Azerbaijani writer’s search for home 

Translator Katherine E. Young reflects on Akram Aylisli’s literary odyssey and the social and political context of and response to his work.  


Image: Tamara Tenenbaum (photo by Dominique Besanson)

A new perspective on Argentine literature

Susannah Greenblatt interviews inaugural Premio Ficciones-winner Tamara Tenenbaum about post-Borges Argentine literature.


A snapshot of the financial drive and relentless pace of a region on the move

From our August Macau issue, Eric Chau and Chi-Wai Un expose the seamy truth behind the go-go veneer of a cutthroat company in “Work Hard,” translated by Natascha Bruce.


Image: Chi-Wai Un, From Eric Chau and Chi-Wai Un’s “Work Hard.”


A lovely poem on the little-discussed process of aging

From our July Punjabi feature, Ajmer Rode distills a man’s life in a morning in “Mustard Flowers.”


And a reminder that it is never too early to begin reading globally

Our interviews with publishers of children’s literature in translation highlight imaginative stories from around the world and the people working to make them available to young readers. 


Image: Claudia Bedrick, Adam Freudenheim, Ilan Stanvans, and Cheryl Robson

Published Jan 22, 2019   Copyright 2019 Susan Harris

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