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Today in International Lit

By David Varno

The first English-language collection of Jordanian poet Amjad Nasser, translated by Khaled Mattawa, has recently been released by Banipal Books. The Saudi Gazette reported the news today, with an informative discussion of Nasser's poetry and Mattawa's introduction, and the blog Yawmiyyat al-hozn al-'aadi (Diary of the Usual Sadness, from Mahmoud Darwish's 1973 book), which links to By Susannah Tarbush's article, features several of Nasser's poems in English as well as some of Mattawa's.

The collection is titled Shepherd of Solitude: Selected Poems 1979-2004, and as Tarbush writes, "Khaled Mattawa points out that the word 'shepherd' resonates in, and even haunts, Nasser's poetry." Mattawa on Nasser: "[He is] like a shepherd watching over a flock of wayward, reckless versions of himself. He gives these selves free rein to act out their crises and victories, and they in turn reveal to him various shades of the glory and folly of human nature.ë

Mattawa has translated several poems by Iman Mersal and Saadi Youssef for Words Without Borders.


The deadline for submissions to Beirut39, which launched this past March at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, has been extended to August 24th, 2009. The contest is a collaboration between the Hay Festival and Beirut World Capital of the Book 2009, and the culminating festival will occur in March 2010, bringing together 39 writers of any language under the age of 39 whose published words of fiction or poetry address the Arab world. Also among the partners are English PEN World Atlas.


Vermont-baed Russian Life has recently brought out the English edition of a collection of short fiction by contemporary Russian authors. Contributors include Eduard Limonov,Vladimir Makanin, Victor Pelevin, Ludmila Petrushevskaya, Vladimir Sorokin, Vladimir Voinovich, and thirteen others.

The book, Life Stories: New Russian Fiction: Translating Literature into End-of-Life Care, doubles as a fundraising project, and proceeds are set to benefit the struggling, newly-launched hospice movement in Russia. The Russian edition was published in March of this year, and has sold 40,000 copies.

Fourteen translators volunteered for the project, including: Alexei Bayer, Michele A. Berdy, Liv Bliss, Lise Brody, Nora Favorov, Anne Fisher, Deborah Hoffman, Michael Katz, Peter Morley, Susanna Nazarova, Anna Razumnaya-Seluyanova, Paul E. Richardson, Marian Schwartz, Bela Shayevich and Nina Shevchuk.

Here is Life Stories' blog, which includes a link for direct ordering.

Published Aug 11, 2009   Copyright 2009 David Varno

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