The shortlist for the Rossica Translation Prize was announced today and features five works translated from Russian into English: The Cathedral Clergy: A Chronicle by Nikolay Leskov, translated by Margaret Winchell; Petersburg by Andrei Bely, translated by John Elsworth; The Road by Vasily Grossman, translated by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler with Olga Mukovnikova; The Village by Ivan Bunin, translated by Galya and Hugh Aplin; and The Golden Calf by Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov, translated by Konstantin Gurevich and Helen Anderson.
I’d like to take a moment to publicly congratulated Helen and Konstantin on this nomination. It was a wild set of coincidences that set this project in motion, and it’s been amazing working with the two of them on all facets of the publication of this book—the conception of the project, the translation itself, and the promotion of the book post-publication. And although I know all five books are great, I really really really want The Golden Calf to win. It would be great for the book—which is absolutely 120% brilliant—and for Open Letter, but especially cool for Helen and Konstantin, considering that this is their first book-length translation to be published. Based on the time and attention given over to this translation, they absolutely deserve to start out on top . . .
And not to draw attention away from their accomplishment in and of its own right (which is a prefatory statement to stealing attention away from their accomplishment in and of its own right), but it’s very gratifying that their translation beat out the other new translation of The Little Golden Calf. Some of you might remember the little controversy surrounding the near simultaneous publication of these two new translations.
I don’t want to get into the whole thing again—basically, the rights holder sold the rights to this book to two separate publishers, and the other one tried to diss ours for all sorts of totally absurd reasons—but since this is one of the few truly funny things I’ve ever written, and since this nomination feels so satisfying, I just had to at least reference it.
Anyway, read The Golden Calf. It may well be the funniest book I’ve ever published.
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .
In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .
Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .
Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic is not a novel in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a collection of vignettes recorded by journalist Georges Vasseur in his diary during a month spent in the Pyrenées Mountains to treat his nervous. . .
Founded in 1960 by such creative pioneers as George Perec, Raymond Queneau and Italo Calvino, the Oulipo, shorthand for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, came about in when a group of writers and mathematicians sought constraints to find new structures and. . .
There’s little to say about a series of prose poems that willfully refuse to identify pronoun antecedents. Or perhaps there are a million things. The poems in Morse, My Deaf Friend— the chapbook by Miloš Djurdjević published by Ugly Duckling. . .
The Crimson Thread of Abandon is the first collection of short fiction available in English by the prolific Japanese writer and all-around avant-garde trickster Terayama Shūji, who died in 1983 at the age of 47. This collection would be important. . .
Last year, NYRB Classics introduced English-language readers to Catalan writer Josep Pla with Peter Bush’s translation of The Gray Notebook. In that book, Pla wrote about life in Spain during an influenza outbreak soon after World War I, when. . .
“Your bile is stagnant, you see sorrow in everything, you are drenched in melancholy,” my friend the doctor said.
bq. “Isn’t melancholy something from previous centuries? Isn’t some vaccine against it yet, hasn’t medicine taken care of it yet?” I. . .
What to make of Vano and Niko, the English translation of Erlom Akhvlediani’s work of the same name, as well as the two other short books that comprise a sort of trilogy? Quick searches will inform the curious reader that. . .