I really can’t be happier about this little bit of news from ALTA today . . . The National Translation Award Longlists were announced today, and of the twelve titles that made the prose longlist, Open Letter published four of them! Hot damn!
They’re up against some tough competition though, which includes:
That’s a really solid list—of translators, authors, books, and publishers. Well done, judging committee!
The poetry list also came out today, also featuring twelve titles:
Congrats to everyone involved! And tune in this September to learn the names of the five finalists in both categories . . .
This week’s podcast covers four major topics: Nobel Prize winner Patrick Modiano, Michael Henry Heim and “The Man Between”—the new book about his life and work—the upcoming ALTA Conference, and Atavist Books. And we barely talk about sports at all!Read More...
I do have some serious things to say about ALTA 2011, which took place in Kansas City last week, but I’m trying to power through a few big things here before the Thanksgiving vacation, so I’m probably going to reserve those legit posts for next week. Instead, let’s talk about riding a mechanical bull.
Kansas City is a fun place that is filled with bar-be-que, concealed weapons, and mechanical bulls. To celebrate this fine heritage, I thought it would be fun if a big group of translators went down to PBR Big Sky (the PBR stands for “Professional Bull Riding,” FYI) to ride a mechanical bull and
shoot bullets into the sky try on cowboy hats.
To make this more interesting, I thought this could be the first of the “Feats of Translators” series here at Open Letter Books. See, rather than spending all this time reading and evaluating books, I think we should institute a new editorial policy whereby certain books are published based on which translators win particular contests. Like, you know, a scavenger hunt, or a Words With Friends tournament, or bull riding . . .
Based on the enticing possibility of having a book published by Open Letter, about
100 9 of us went to PBR and rode that bull. Actually, all of us rode the bull except for Scott Esposito, who decided that he wasn’t “manly” enough. (Which is maybe why he overcompensates at the beginning of this video by yelling “F*&^ you, Chad Post!” Some people . . . )
There are videos of all the riders, but I thought I’d just post mine since I decided that I won. (Our “timekeeping” sort of malfunctioned, so I win by default of having gone first. Publisher’s rules!)
Enjoy. And yes, “Wild Thing.”
I’m about to head off to this year’s American Literary Translators Association conference in Kansas City, MO, where hopefully I’ll be able to post a few updates and let you in on the awesome fun that is ALTA. (And remember, next year it’s in Rochester from October 3-6. and I expect to see all of you here. It will be worth your while—I promise.)
Just in case I don’t have time to post (which is quite possible, since I talk to much and stay up too late), over the rest of the week I’m going to rerun our well-regarded “Making the Translator Visible” series, which came out of ALTA Pasadena.
These pieces are also contained in my ebook, “The Three Percent Problem: Rants and Responses on Publishing, Translation, and the Future of Reading,” which can be purchased for $2.99 at Amazon, B&N, and the iBookstore. (And as a reminder, all the proceeds from the sales of this book go directly to supporting translators.)
Anyway, hopefully I’ll see some of you in Kansas City. And if not, I’ll let you know about all the fun and games over the next couple weeks.
So, I’m back from Southern California, all post-ALTA inspired about translation, the state of translation, the amazing manuscripts people are working on, etc. But I’m way, way too jetlagged and exhausted to actually write any real posts today . . .
So, in a blogging version of an “under construction” full-motion jpg, I thought I’d just give a brief preview of what we have planned for this week along with a few notes about my undying love of ALTA . . .
I guess for the benefit of anyone who isn’t already jacked into the translation community, it might be worthwhile explaining a bit about what ALTA is. Google will bring you to all sorts of orgs—Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association, American Land Title Association, etc.—this is actually the American Literary Translators Association, which is housed at the University of Texas-Dallas and is the only professional organization in America for literary translators.
There are a number of components to ALTA—a listserv for members, Translation Review, Annotated Books Received, so on and on—but the real cornerstone of the organization (for the time being, more on that later this week in one of my over-long, over-written posts) is the annual conference. Held throughout the country (next year it’s in Philly, and then
New Orleans Kansas City Banff Nome, Alaska somewhere) in mid-October, it’s an amazing chance for literary translators of all languages and experience levels to come together to talk shop, share experiences, hook up with editors, create support networks, and enjoy the totally ALTA-coolness that comes from bringing together a few hundred over educated, linguistically obsessed, fun people.
I’m going to catch flack from someone(s) for any number of statements that are about to follow, but yeah, well, whatever. First off, ALTA is the best, bar none, conference that I attend on an annual basis. Kicks MLA’s collective academic ass. Makes BEA look boring. Not even Frankfurt is as warm, human, and inviting. This may be a result of my nerdy nature, but damn, hanging out with literary translators is so much fun. Where else can you learn about crazy Chinese signs? (The title of this post can be found outside a baggage claim at a Chinese airport.) And I’ve said this before in more subtle terms, but, well, the women who go into literary translation are awesome. And, as I always love to point out, they also tend to be short like me, which is totally brilliant.
Any one who’s interested in literary translation should definitely “join ALTA.“http://www.utdallas.edu/alta/meminfo.html It’s only $20 for students (and $80 for us old people), and definitely worth it. But I’ll write more about that and the future of ALTA later this week . . .
Speaking of which: in addition to a series of posts about ALTA—the panels, the people, the speeches, the fun—this week we’ll also kick off the “Making the Translator Visible” project. This is something Megan McDowell and I came up with at ALTA and consists of pictures of various translators along with info about their favorite word, translation, and book that needs to be in English. It was a lot of fun putting this together, and I’m excited to start posting about all of the cool translators . . . Also have a few reviews later this week, some stuff about the new issue of Two Lines, some more news about our retranslation of Ilf & Petrov’s The Golden Calf, info about the 2010 Best Translated Book Award (including dates for all the various announcements), previews of December translations and more more more.
Prose translators will likely disagree, but I believe translating poetry requires a significant level of talent, a commitment to the text, and near mania, all of which suggests that the undertaking is the greatest possible challenge. The task is to. . .
The biggest issues with books like The Subsidiary often have to do with their underpinnings—when we learn that Georges Perec wrote La Disparition without once using the letter E, we are impressed. Imagine such a task! It takes a high. . .
Following The Infatuations, Javier Marías’s latest novel seems, like those that have preceded it, an experiment to test fiction’s capacity to mesmerize with sombre-sexy atmospheres and ruminative elongated sentences stretched across windowless walls of paragraphs. Thus Bad Begins offers his. . .
Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .
Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals is about the type of unique, indestructible, and often tragic loyalty only found in families. For a brief but stunningly mesmerizing 169 pages, Twenty-One Cardinals invited me in to the haunting and intimate world of the. . .
We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our. . .
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .