By David Varno
New in Catalan Literature
The September issue of World Literature Today is carrying a special feature on Catalan literature, guest edited by Lawrence Venuti. In his introduction, Venuti highlights the growth of Catalan literature since the end of Franco's rule in 1975, during which many Catalan writers were forced into exile, citing the 8,340 Catalan titles that were published in 2007 (including 21 percent in translation). Spurred by the fact that British and American publishers have brought out less than ten books a year from Catalan in the past decade, Venuti references the tokenism in Frank O'Hara's cosmopolitan íThe Day Lady Diedë (in which the poet famously picks up a copy of New World Writing to ísee what the poets in Ghana are doingë) as an example of the problem.
Mercè Rodoreda's novel The Time of the Dove is often regarded as the most important Catalan novel, but as Sandra Cisneros pointed out last year on WNYC, there ARE many equally important Catalan books unknown to American readers. As Venuti writes, "Today Catalan literature is exhibiting a renewed vigor that commands an international audience, warranting the attention of readers in the globally hegemonic language, English, where unequal patterns of exchange reduce every foreign language to minor status."
Other contributors to the special WLT issue include Quim Monzó, Miguel Bauçà, Albert Sánchez Piñol, Anna Montero, Andreu Vidal, Ernest Farrés, and Eva Baltasar. Our October 2007 issue, created in partnership with the Institut Ramon Llull, featured Monzó, Farrés and Rodoreda, along with Juan Goytisolo, Pilar Simó, Sergi Pàmies, Teresa Solana, Fransesc Parcerisas, and Empar Moliner. Rodoreda's work is a great place to start, and not just because of her reputation. In domestic scenes, she subtly picks away at the surface, finding unexpected tension. See "Afternoon at the Cinema", translated by Martha Tennent. Also, in case you missed it, Hugh Ferrer's review of Tennet's translation of Rodoreda's final novel, Death in Spring, out now from Open Letter, in our July issue.
Consulting Editor Norman Manea granted Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Arts et Letters
Note from Susan Harris:
The French government announced this July that it has granted our consulting editor Norman Manea the title of Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Arts et Letters, the highest rank in the Legion of Honor, in recognition of "his great talent and open, vigilant and humanist body of work written without concession." Manea guest edited our November 2004 Romanian issue, and we also published his íLetter to Ernesto Sábato,ë translated from the Romanian by Stephen Kessler and Daniela Hurezanu.
NEA Literature Fellowships for Translation Awarded
To catch up on August news, we should note several winners of the NEA's invaluable award for literary translators who have contributed to the magazine. Ellen Elias-Bursac, Eugene Ostashevsky, and Russell Valentino have been published in Words Without Borders (Martha Tennent is also a winner, and will translate more Rodoreda stories). In addition, Elias-Bursac and Tennent, along with fellow winner Charlotte Mandell, have translated books for Open Letter.
Published Sep 1, 2009 Copyright 2009 David Varno