15 July 15 | Chad W. Post | Comments

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!

  • Street of Thieves by Mathias Énard, translated from the French by Charlotte Mandell;
  • This Is the Garden by Giulio Mozzi, translated from the Italian by Elizabeth Harris; and
  • La Grande by Juan José Saer, translated from the Spanish by Steve Dolph, all made the longlist.

They’re up against some tough competition though, which includes:

  • Conversations by Cesar Aira, translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver;
  • End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky;
  • The Mad and the Bad by Jean-Patrick Manchette, translated from the French by Donald Nicholson-Smith;
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, translated from the Russian by Marian Schwartz;
  • The Last Lover by Can Xue, translated from the Chinese by Annelise F. Wasmoen; and

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:

  • Lazy Suzie by Suzanne Doppelt, translated from the French by Cole Swensen;
  • Wallless Space by Ernst Meister, translated from the German by Graham Foust and Samuel Frederick;
  • Sheds/Hangars by José-Flore Tappy, translated from the French by John Taylor.

Congrats to everyone involved! And tune in this September to learn the names of the five finalists in both categories . . .

5 November 14 | Chad W. Post | Comments

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!


22 November 11 | Chad W. Post | Comments

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.”

15 November 11 | Chad W. Post | Comments

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.

16 November 09 | Chad W. Post | Comments

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.

We're Not Here to Disappear
We're Not Here to Disappear by Olivia Rosenthal
Reviewed by Megan C. Ferguson

Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .

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The Queen's Caprice
The Queen's Caprice by Jean Echenoz
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

Even though the latest from Jean Echenoz is only a thin volume containing seven of what he calls “little literary objects,” it is packed with surprises. In these pieces, things happen below the surface, sometimes both literally and figuratively. As. . .

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French Concession
French Concession by Xiao Bai
Reviewed by Emily Goedde

Who is this woman? This is the question that opens Xiao Bai’s French Concession, a novel of colonial-era Shanghai’s spies and revolutionaries, police and smugglers, who scoot between doorways, walk nonchalantly down avenues, smoke cigars in police bureaus, and lounge. . .

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Anna Karenina
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

For the past 140 years, Anna Karenina has been loved by millions of readers all over the world. It’s easy to see why: the novel’s two main plots revolve around characters who are just trying to find happiness through love.. . .

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The Cold Song
The Cold Song by Linn Ullmann
Reviewed by David Richardson

Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .

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This Life
This Life by Karel Schoeman
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .

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A Dilemma
A Dilemma by Joris-Karl Hyusmans
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .

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