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Karen Emmerich and Greek Literature

Scott Esposito at Conversational Reading has a wonderfully detailed write up of the Center for the Art of Translation Event that took place last week where Karen Emmerich read from the work of four of her favorite Greek authors.

You should really read Scott’s complete write-up, but here’s are the brief highlights of the four authors:

Emmerich started the event by reading from the text I’d Like, [by Amanda Michalopoulou] which was awarded the NEA’s International Literature Prize. I have seen I’d Like variously described as a novel in stories, a collection of linked stories, a fictional biography, or the shards of a novel yet to form itself.

I’d Like was one of my favorite books from the 2009 Best Translated Book longlist and hopefully someone (possibly Open Letter) will bring out more of Michalopoulou’s work.

The second writer Emmerich presented was the poet Eleni Vakalo. [. . .] Emmerich read from a book of Vakalo’s that is one of a collection of nine books called The Other Side of Things, written between 1954 and 1994. Emmerich described this work as as one continuous poem with titles interspersed and called these 9 books, which she is currently translating, a 15-year project.

The third of the four authors presented Tuesday afternoon was Ersi Sotiropoulos, an avant-garde Greek writer born in 1953. Emmerich first discussed the odd case of her book Zigzag Through the Bitter-Orange Trees, which was censored as pornographic and removed from school libraries in Greece. Emmerich considered this to be a sexist gesture, as she noted that one of the most celebrated works in the Greek postwar period, Megas Anatolikos (Great Eastern by Andreas Embirikos), is a completely filthy work that consists of the transatlantic journey of what Embirikos calls a “hedonistic vessel.”

The final author that Emmerich read from was the Greek poet Miltos Sachtouris, whose collection Poems (published by Archipelago Books) was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award in 2007.

Might be because it’s Monday, but this event strikes me as a sort of perfect storm of international literature . . . You have a incredibly talented translator giving English readers recommendations of four modern Greek writers that have been published in translation at an event organized by one of the premiere translation organizations in the country and reported on by one of the best international literature blogs . . .



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