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Today in International Lit

By David Varno

Kafka in New York

Last week, the New York M.T.A. unveiled a new quote for their Train of Thought series, with the first line from Kafka's "The Metamorphosis." The New Yorker suggests that perhaps the transit authority is moving "from the inspirational to the inspired."

It is a rather strange message for the morning commute; the Muirs' translation reads almost like a headline: "AS GREGOR SAMSA AWOKE ONE MORNING FROM UNEASY DREAMS HE FOUND HIMSELF TRANSFORMED IN HIS BED INTO A GIANT INSECT." Just imagine if they'd used Neugroschel's: "One morning, upon awakening from agitated dreams, Gregor Samsa found himself, in his bed, transformed into a monstrous vermin."


The City Lights No Contest

From Ingrid Rojas, City Lights Publishers:

In a recent interview with PRI's World Books, Beauty Salon author Mario Bellatin described a writing technique called the "No Method": "For years I tried to create for myself a method of writing that would be my own. I called it the No Method, not because it was influenced by the Japanese theatrical form of that name, but rather because it was about appending a 'no' to all the elements that supposedly make up literary texts. No adjectives, no dialogue, no space, no time, no omniscience, no names, and so on and so forth, until I had compiled a long list of noes. It was in that way, restricted all the way down to the most minimal aspects, that I began to see that, in a certain sense, things could be named anew."

Our challenge to you: use Bellatin's No Method--no adjectives, no dialogue, no space, no time, no omniscience, no names--to write a short piece of fiction (under 200 words), and send your entry to [email protected] under the subject line "No Contest." The person with the best entry will receive a free copy of Beauty Salon and a choice of four other books from our City Lights Publishers Literature in Translation list. Submissions are due no later than October 15, 2009.

The winner will be announced in our November newsletter.


International Literary Award: Winners Announced

The winners were announced on September 30th for the first annual International Literature Award in fiction translated into German. The award is given by the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and the Stiftung

Elementarteilchen, and went to both the author and the translator:

25,000 euros to Daniel Alarcón, for his novel Lost City Radio, and 10,000 euros to Friederike Meltendorf for his translation.

Here is the shortlist:

Daniel Alarcon: Lost City Radio

Wagenbach, 2008, translated from American English by Friederike Meltendorf

(Lost City Radio, HarperCollins, 2007)

Mahmoud Doulatabadi: Der Colonel

Unionsverlag, 2009, translated from Persian by Bahman Nirumand

(Sawal-e colonel, first publication worldwide)

Rawi Hage: Als ob es kein Morgen gŠbe

DuMont Verlag, 2009, translated from American English by Gregor Hens

(De Niro's Game, Anansi Press 2006)

Aleksandar Hemon: Lazarus

Knaus Verlag, 2009, translated from American English by Rudolf Hermstein

(The Lazarus Project, Riverhead Books 2008)

Mart'n Kohan: Zweimal Juni

Suhrkamp Verlag, 2009, translated from Spanish by Peter Kultzen

(Des veces junio, Editorial Sudamericana 2002)

Dinaw Mengestu: Zum Wiedersehen der Sterne

Claassen Verlag, 2009, translated from American English by Volker von Oldenburg

(The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, Riverhead Books 2007)

Published Oct 6, 2009   Copyright 2009 David Varno

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