14 July 09 | Chad W. Post | Comments

CALQUE has an excellent piece by translator Vincent Kling on the recent death of Austrian writer Gert Jonke. Kling’s piece and the five short pieces he translated are all worth reading, but here are a few highlights:

Parody is alive and well: a rough parallel from the 2008 election in the United States is found in the considerable part Tina Fay played on Saturday Night Live in focusing opposition to Sarah Palin – rough because Jonke was a master at making political points without such direct reference. In one of his last plays, for instance, a character laments that the national assembly has sold all the air space over the country to a monopolistic advertising agency, which will erect huge banners to blot out the sun, moon, stars, the birds in flight, and the wind. Too buffoonishly over the top? Not when people in Vienna recall that the tower of the cathedral and other landmarks were long draped by scaffolding over which advertisements for insurance companies were hung and that one firm has in fact recently been granted exclusive legal rights to all the billboards in the city. [. . .]

Ordered perceptions are a sometime thing anyway. “Hyperbole 1,” from a series of snapshots or vignettes in drama form called Insektarium, is one of several studies by Jonke showing the social origins of perception and memory. That process forms the basis of his Geometric Regional Novel. If the difference between how the human eye and the insect eye perceive their surroundings is a marvel of nature, it might be even more miraculous to ponder how different the outside world can appear to any two human observers. The man and the woman are watching the same circus performance but placing opposite meanings on the same phenomena. Even as the show is taking place, not after it, the observers are “distorting” reality by negotiating an understanding of what they’re seeing and then storing those “distortions” in their memory. [. . .]

“The Projector” is thus a shorter, funnier, but not less powerful version of stories like George Perec’s W or The Memory of Childhood, Doron Rabinovici’s The Search for M., or W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz, right down to the realization that restoring memory, or being provided one in the first place, starts the process of resolution almost regardless of how dreadful the events were. Not knowing what one intuits is worse, because the horror is present in sublimated but damaging form, unavailable for processing. The spotless mind does not experience eternal sunshine, to cite another film about memory, for it isn’t spotless; its blankness is already a taint. Nor is the conferring or denying of memory unconnected here with rewarding or punishing consumer behavior; the owner of the movie theater reserves the right to make the audience happy or miserable based purely on payment, so the tensions of capitalist structures, always present in Jonke and always reduced to their logical absurdities, make up another theme.

Jonke was an amazing author, and thanks to Dalkey Archive and Ariadne Books, a number of titles are now available (or will be shortly), all of which can be ordered from Skylight Books by clicking here.

3 March 09 | E.J. Van Lanen | Comments

For anyone who’s not a subscriber, the new issue of CALQUE Magazine is now available for purchase. (You can also find some interesting supplementary online material via that link.)

Rumors about CALQUE have been circulating of late, and according to Steve and Brandon, this will be the final issue of the magazine. But CALQUE isn’t going away completely—instead, they’re planning on starting to publish books (mostly poetry in translation) later this year.

In the meantime, we have a special CALQUE feature—below you’ll find audio files of their recent reading in celebration of the release of Issue #5. Enjoy!

Part One: Jennifer Hayashida reading her translation of Swedish poet Fredrik Nyberg.

Part Two: Brandon Holmquest reading Infrarealists.

Part Three: Sandra Newman reading Celan and some of her own work.

3 March 09 | Chad W. Post | Comments

This started a while ago, but Rose Mary Salum of Entre los espacios has been interviewing a number of translation journals/magazines about issues of readership, editing, etc., with pretty interesting results.

Each question is a separate post, so here are links to the four already online, along with a quote from one of the responses. (Just for the record, editors from CALQUE, Absinthe, Words Without Borders, Tameme, One Edit, No Man’s Land, and CipherJournal are being interviewed.)

Question #1 is about the perceived lack of interest in international literature among English readers.

Brandon Holmquest from CALQUE: I’m not sure if I agree with the idea that readers are disinclined to read things from other countries. There are a hell of a lot of people in this country who are not readers, and a great many who read things like genre fiction. It does the publisher of serious literature, translated or not, no good to consider these people as readers. A record label that puts out hip-hop records cares about hip-hop fans, people who hate music and rock fans can take of themselves.

Question #2: What would seem to be the essential editorial challenge when working with translations?

Tim Adkins from One Edit: Make it interesting.

Question #3: Is expression in one language completely transmittable into another language?

Dwayne Hayes from Absinthe: I’m not sure the thoughts in our own heads are completely transmittable in our own language! That said, translation stands on its own as a literary work and is definitely capable of transmitting the heart of the text.

Question #4: Should the question be more about how much of a culture we try to transmit and how much we intervene, when working with our journals?

Samantha Schnee from Words Without Borders: The mission statement of WWB sums this up nicely: Words Without Borders opens doors to international exchange through translation, publication, and promotion of the world’s best writing. WWB publishes selected prose and poetry on the web and in print anthologies (the next one to focus on the Islamic world), stages special events that connect foreign writers to the general public and media, develops materials for high school teachers to use foreign literature in classrooms, and continues to build an unparalleled online resource center for contemporary global writing.

Not sure if there are more questions to come, but what’s available so far provides an interesting look into these diverse translation journals—all of which are worth checking out in their own right.

13 January 09 | E.J. Van Lanen | Comments

Over at Calque they’ve started putting some of the supplementary materials of the upcoming issue (#5, released February 15th) online. First up is a poem by Evgeny Baratynsky, “The Skull”. As always, we recommend you keep a close eye on Calque, they do a lot of great stuff.

7 January 09 | Chad W. Post | Comments [1]

It’s great to see two of the best translation journals in conversation . . . Just yesterday, Steve Dolph of CALQUE published this interview with Dwayne Hayes, editor and founder of Absinthe.

There’s a lot of great stuff in here, including Dwayne’s comments about wanting to become the biggest-selling literary magazine in the world, and all the nice references to Open Letter . . . I particularly like this section:

Steve Dolph: Much ballyhoo has been tossed around recently about the notorious 3% statistic for the percentage of books published in translation here in the states. To wit, John O’Brien’s blistering piece in CONTEXT 21. Is this merely a publisher/translator cold war, or are there larger cultural issues at stake in this discussion?

Dwayne Hayes: Well, there’s probably some other dynamic at play in John O’Brien’s essay [Ed. Note: Yeah, I’ll say.] and I can’t comment on that but regardless of the validity of the 3% statistic it does seem to reveal a woeful lack of curiosity about the world among American readers and publishers. And this is backed up by our inability to speak other languages or to even possess a passport. It’s interesting that every year at AWP, without fail, we’ll have a lot of people walk by our table, pick up Absinthe, see that it features European writers, and put it back down as if they’ve picked up a virus. I’ve had people seem offended, “why on earth would you publish a journal of European writers?”

SD: I’ve received identical reactions when selling CALQUE. I say we publish literature in translation and they give me this look like “what for?!” My gut response is to say this reaction is xenophobic, but is that too simplistic?

DH: It’s possible that in those situations the response is xenophobic but I think it again points to some failures in the way we educate. I’ve seen statistics indicating that only 9% of Americans are fluent in a second language and just over 40% of high school students study foreign languages. We’re probably just not that interested in the rest of the world, unfortunately.

It would be wrong to suggest there is some ideal percentage of books that should be translated into English, as if once 10% of the books published in the US are translations then there will be world peace. I don’t know any of these people that O’Brien claims believe “translations, de facto, are good because they are translations” or the “rubbish about translations saving the world.” Obviously, we, along with all the other publishers I know, reject work in translation that is just not good writing. Yet we can cultivate an interest in the world, in the views and opinions of the “other”, and make publishing decisions that take this into consideration without sacrificing the quality of our efforts. But this won’t happen among the large corporate publishers because their focus is on the bottom line. So again, smaller literary enterprises (usually non-profit) like the ones we’re talking about and the small presses like Open Letter, Archipelago, Ugly Duckling, Dalkey Archive, Zephyr, etc. are incredibly important.

And of course, I love this optimistic bit about translators and an interest in international literature:

SD: And yet the practice of literary translation seems, at least to me, very strong. Not a day goes by when I don’t discover a new translator or a group of people publishing interesting work. Is there a connection among these phenomena? Or do you think it not that strong at all?

DH: It does seem strong to me but then again that could just be related to the company I keep. When I started Absinthe some of the other projects like Words without Borders, Circumference, and CALQUE, and publishers like Archipelago and Open Letter were either new or just getting started so there’s been a lot of movement recently and everyone seems to be generally very supportive and encouraging of the work that’s being done. We’re excited to find that after we publish an issue we’ll receive a few emails from other journal publishers who want to get in contact with a writer or translator we’ve featured in order to publish more of their work. So, despite the discouraging statistics and anecdotal evidence, there’s a lot to be optimistic about.

Amen. I highly recommend the whole interview and reading/subscribing to both magazines . . .

28 October 08 | Chad W. Post | Comments [1]

I can’t express how disappointed I was to have to miss the ALTA conference this year. This is by far my favorite annual conference for any number of reasons. (I once wrote a piece for Words Without Borders about how I loved ALTA because most of the translators were shorter than me. That’s incredibly unusual and still true.) Translators are some of the nicest, most interesting, most open, people in the world. Translators love to talk about books, and in contrast to the MLA (which, for a lot of people, is a do-or-die job fair), there’s a levity to the ALTA that makes it incredibly enjoyable and fun.

Unfortunately, this year ALTA and the Frankfurt Book Fair coincided, so I had to miss it.

Thankfully, Lucas Klein wrote an amazing summary for the CALQUE blog.

Translators are, by definition, interested in more than one thing. This makes translators great people to talk to, and marks a distinction between translators and academics, who are often interested only in one thing [1]. Translators are also different from writers, many ALTA participants reminded me, who also tend to like to talk about one thing: themselves. You can’t be a translator and be egocentric. While we all bemoan the translator’s invisibility, in Lawrence Venuti’s words, the benefit of being under-noticed is that as a group we’re generous, considerate, and, because we’re conscious of how much we haven’t read and grateful for what we have, very warm to each other. Of course we all enter this profession for money and fame, but somehow in pursuit of that we have learned the value of listening to others before we speak, and of incorporating the viewpoints of others into our self-expression. With translators, you get lots of personality without lots of ego.

This also means that, as opposed to an academic conference, where people go not to learn but to cherry-pick, and where possibilities for discussion boil down to possibilities for one-upmanship, at ALTA the panels are very well attended and discussion is abundant. I was in two panels where panelists found ways to contradict each other and yet somehow be in total agreement. People actually want to go to panels.

[. . .]

Saturday morning began with Esther Allen’s Plenary lecture, “Pastiche, Imposture, or Commentary? Thoughts on the Scholarly Status of Translation,” focused mostly on the problem of tenure-review committees ignoring translation. Such a speech could have been little more than preaching to the choir, but in bringing up—and pushing through—any objections to talking about the necessity of making translation tenurable (which is not to say making translation “scholarly”), she ended up with both a sociology of our culture’s academic sphere and a number of new approaches to understanding translation as scholarship and commentary. She says she hopes her talk will be published in the PMLA, and I say if they do not print it, we should all withdraw our subscriptions in protest (by a show of hands, the vast majority of her audience at ALTA were academics of some stripe).

The whole piece is worth quoting—and reading—in its entirety. I haven’t seen too many other posts/reports on ALTA, but as I find them I’ll put them up. (I have heard from a number of attendees that this was one of the best ALTA conferences ever.)

22 September 08 | Chad W. Post | Comments

The always interesting CALQUE blog posted an interview over the weekend with the editors of Pratilipi, a relatively new bimonthly web magazine dedicated to publishing and promoting Indian writers from a number of regions and languages. Their goals are really quite ambitious and include a future print edition with a subscription base of 5,000 . . .

What’s really interesting about this is the description of the Indian literary scene:

PRATILIPI: India is a multilingual, multi-script culture. The Indian constitution recognizes 22 languages, excluding English. The Sahitya Akademi (the National Academy of Letters) recognizes 24 – including English. They publish two periodicals, one in Hindi and one in English, with work from all Indian languages – translated into Hindi or English. Similarly, there are magazines published by the State Academies, in the language of the region. Sometimes they too carry translations from other Indian languages. Still, there are no magazines/platforms that have the scope and flexibility to bring all these literatures together.

Besides, one of the persisting legacies of colonialism is that English is the dominant language when it comes to translations. Most translations from Indian languages are into English. Translations across Indian languages are rare (except by the Sahitya Akademi) and, ironically, this is something not many people, including writers, are very worried about. Translation into English gets you some money, recognition, near-canonization and a pan-Indian/global presence – something that translation into another Indian language cannot offer.

In such a scenario, we wish we could be a magazine where interaction across Indian languages and also between the Hindi and English worlds of national literary life could take place. Most good authors in Indian languages get translated into English, but the two worlds have remained, basically, very different worlds.

Hindi and Indian languages have maintained the Nehruvian welfare model in a dangerous way. Nothing can happen there without government involvement in the form of institutions or funds. And there are the publishers’ canards about readership in Indian languages. Even when satellite-TV giants and publishers like Penguin and Harper Collins have entered the Hindi/Bhasha market, everybody keeps repeating that Hindi/Indian language literature does not sell. In Hindi and other languages, the average print run for a book is 1000, with most of the copies going to public-sector libraries at a profit margin that has kept some publishers in business for more than sixty years. On the other hand, the English scene has always been market-driven.

5 September 08 | Chad W. Post | Comments

I first heard of Per Hojholt in 2004, when, shortly after he died, the Literary Saloon posted a short piece about his obituary and about Auricula:

Of particular interest: his recent novel, Auricula (not translated into English — yet). As we understand it, the premise of the book is that time very briefly came to a stop 7 September 1915, which led to the birth of a great many ears (yes, ears) which floated around and got involved in especially the arts of the time — Joyce ! Dada ! Kafka ! Duchamp !

I still think this sounds like a really interesting. Queneau-esque sort of book, and hopefully it will make its way into English at some point in the near future.

In addition to this strange, philosophical novel, Hojholt wrote a number of books of poetry, and now, thanks to CALQUE some of these poems will finally be published in English:

Per Højholt (1928-2004) was one of Denmark’s most influential poets, a philosophical modern master whose work throughout is shaped by playful, often equilibristic linguistics and a simultaneous and astonishing ability to express highly philosophical issues in a colloquial style employing ironical humour as one of its foremost instruments. [. . .] The so-called Praksis series ran to twelve small volumes published from 1977 through 1996 and provided a laboratory framework for much of the poetic oeuvre. Praksis, 8: Album, tumult (1989) contains 59 short prose pieces, the majority extending no more than half a dozen lines or so, all archetypal Højholt. CALQUE 5 brings an impromptu selection of fifteen of these pieces. The following is a taste of what is to come. The recipient of numerous major literary awards (including the Danish Arts Foundation’s lifetime grant), shortlisted for the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize in 2003, Højholt appears here for what may be the first time in English.

The selections on the blog are pretty fantastic. My personal favorite is this one:

39. Minor Kafka idyll. The more I spoke to him the larger his head became. Several times I tried falling silent to encourage him to empty himself, but he challenged me each time with new questions demanding detailed replies, and thereby against my will, little by little, I caused his head to take on a quite monstrous proportion. When later we accompanied each other along the street I noticed to my surprise that it was me people were staring at, not him, and when we took leave of each other and I remained standing a moment to watch him manoeuvre his great, egg-shaped head down through the pedestrian street, it was not him, but me they applauded.

29 July 08 | Chad W. Post | Comments [1]

The other day, we posted a short piece about an exchange between Michael Emmerich and Daniela Hurezanu that took place on the Calque website and centered around a recent interview with Emmerich the striking differences between his unedited version of The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P and the version edited by Elmer Luke.

Thanks to the general awesomeness of St. Mark’s Bookshop I was able to pick up the most recent issue of Calque last night. And thanks to the boring, depersonalized nature of airports, I just had a chance to read this entire interview and versions of Emmerich’s translation of Matsuura Rieko’s novel.

First off, the edited version of the translation reads much better than the unedited one. The concerns Hurezanu expressed in her letter to Calque are completely valid—there are occasions when editors mutilate a translation to fit certain preconceived notions about the reader—but in this case, my personal feeling, and no offense to Emmerich, who is clearly one of the top Japanese translators working today, is that the edited version simply reads better. (For instance, “Roused from my slumbers by a barrage of knocks on the front door, it gradually dawned on me that an hour earlier I had agreed to have a talk with Kazumi, and I made a mad dash for the hall,” doesn’t read as well as “I was roused by a barrage of knocks on the door, and suddenly remembering Kazumi was coming over, I made a mad dash to the door.”)

And Emmerich’s description of this book makes it sound wonderfully perverse:

The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P is an unusual sort of masterpiece. Riveting, provocative, funny, disturbing, touching, verbose, explicit, and absurd, it was also a bestseller. I doubt anyone in the United States who can’t read Japanese even suspects that Japanese literature contains novels like this, or authors like Matsuura. A novel, that is to say, whose heroine has a penis on her foot and spends much of the book on the road with what amounts to a sexual freak show.

Aside from the excerpts though, the interview with Emmerich is simply amazing and totally worth the cover price. The opening section about Ukigumo—which is considered the “first modern Japanese novel”—is fascinating, since its author, Futabatei Shimei (which is a pseudonym and pun that reflects a Japanese phrase that translates as “drop dead”) translated Ivan Turgenev and was heavily influenced by Russian writers.

Futabatei also cites Dostoevsky and Goncharov as the stylistic models that helped him break out of the distinctly “early modern” written style and prose rhythms that dominate Part 1 of Ukigumo, and we know that when he was struggling with Parts 2 and 3, he sometimes wrote in Russian first, then translated his Russian into Japanese [. . .]

There’s a ton of things to quote from this interview, but my plane is boarding, so I’ll leave off with Michael’s response to a question of “what distinguishes a good translation from a poor one?”

The reader. This sounds like another dodge, I know. But that’s the best answer. Unless we’re talking about a particular translation, and considering it in relation to the context within which it came into being, trying to determine how well it meets the needs it was designed to meet. [. . .] We tend to assume, for instance, that readers who are able to compare a translation with the work that inspired it are best equipped—are perhaps the only ones equipped—to judge its merits. And yet translations aren’t designed to meet the needs of readers who . . . I can’t think how to say this without slipping into tautology . . . who don’t need a translation.

To tell the truth, I suspect that readers who can compare translations and originals actually tend to be worse judges of the quality of a translation than people who are unable to read the original. [. . .]

Of course, readers who can access both the original and the translation are able to find obvious mistakes, and that’s somethign only they can do, and that can be important. But surely that’s not what we mean when we ask what distinguishes good translations from bad? We’re interested in something that runs deeper, I would hope—not something so superficial that any old multilingual reader can come along and point it out after a hasty comparison of the two texts. [. . .]

24 July 08 | Chad W. Post | Comments [1]

Today on the Calque blog, there’s a fascinating exchange between translators Daniela Hurezanu and Michael Emmerich regarding the editing of Matsuura Rieko’s The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P, which Emmerich translated and is forthcoming from Seven Stories.

In the last issue of Calque—one of, if not the, finest journals of literary translation being published—there appeared an interview with Michael Emmerich followed by two versions of the opening paragraphs of The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P, an unedited version, and the one that’s actually going to be published.

The huge differences between the two versions—and Emmerich’s explanation of why certain changes were made—really set off Daniela Hurezanu, who wrote a substantial letter to Calque, asking them to publish it. They did so online along with Emmerich’s response.

Both letters are way too long to accurately summarize, but needless to say, the issues that come up are at the crux of literary translation, the editing of literary translations, and the nature of fitting a book to a particular country’s aesthetic and commercial desires—all of which are really fascinating and well presented in the two letters.

From Hurezanu:

In comparing the unedited translation with the edited version, one can see that the changes have been made according to a certain pattern, which obviously reflects the esthetic view of the editor(s). The first two long sentences have been chopped into much shorter sentences, and what is conveyed indirectly in the first version is expressed telegraphically in the second one, as if the narrator was answering a police questionnaire and was summoned to give the most unambiguous, direct answers possible. But the narrator is not answering a police questionnaire. She is telling a story about a woman whom she doesn’t recall very well. The first version has two paragraphs about the narrator’s difficulty in remembering who this woman who showed up at her door was, and the style parallels her mental hesitations. The sentences in these paragraphs have the oral feeling of an inner monologue, and contain words expressing hesitation that have been deleted in the edited version. All the nuances, the words that don’t convey specific information have been deleted, and only the bare bones of the text—its “message” has been kept. Why? Do the editors believe that we read fiction in order to get some “information,” and the shorter and more clearly it’s conveyed, the better? Do we really read in order to find out that the narrator didn’t remember Mazo Kazumi? So what? I can’t speak for all readers, but when I read a book it is to be transported not only into another physical universe—which, in the case of Japan, some might equate with a desire for exoticism (and I understand Emmerich’s frustration regarding such expectations)—but to be transported into another universe of thinking. It is not a book’s “message”—whether the narrator remembers or not Mazo Kazumi—that represents another view of the world, but the way a writer’s thinking is articulated through the flow of the words, that is, his/her structure of thinking. When a paragraph begins, as some do in Emmerich’s unedited version, with a subordinate clause or a sentence that draws us slowly into the story’s atmosphere, the text has an entirely different rhythm than when these sentences are either deleted or replaced by short sentences starting with “I.” There is a huge difference between a structure of thinking that places the I and its “actions” at the center of the world and a structure of thinking in which the I is less important than the background on which it is placed. If one alters a text’s syntax, it is this very structure that is altered.

And a bit from Emmerich:

When I proposed printing the two texts together, I assumed that this might make some readers uncomfortable—indeed, that was the point. I decided to present the most drastically edited section of the entire book, the opening paragraphs, because I have the sense that few readers are conscious of what goes on behind the scenes before a translated novel, or any novel, is published in the United States, and I hoped that putting these two texts on display might give Calque’s readers some insight into this process. At the same time, I expected that translators who believe, as I do, that it is important to consider the political, ethical, and economic choices we make when we engage, not only in the nearly impossible task of translation, but also in the all-too-frequently flat-out-one-hundred-percent impossible task of finding publishers willing to assume the daunting financial risks involved in paying for and publishing our work, might also be made uncomfortable by some of the points I made. My aim was not, after all, to repeat comfortable truths: it is true that editors often do things to translations that many of us find deeply objectionable, not infrequently without allowing translators the option of undoing their edits; it is true that English prose in the United States has been deeply influenced by the “shorter is better” aesthetic, and this has had an effect on the editing of translations, even in cases where strong arguments might be made in favor of preserving the prolixity and complexity of the original text; it is true that this imposition of a local aesthetic on translated foreign writing seems contrary to the purposes of translation as they are understood by many translators active in the United States today. While fully aware of these truths, I wanted instead to consider in discomfiting detail the fact that practical, real-world benefits can accrue from compromises that we might, in an ideal world, prefer not to make.

The whole exchange is fascinating and definitely worth reading, and hopefully we’ll be able to discuss this in more depth when Michael Emmerich comes to Rochester for a Translators Roundtable on October 1st. (An event that will be recorded and posted here.)

There’s such an interesting web of concerns related to how a translator relates to the original text, what liberties he/she takes when translated it, and what the American editor then does to the translation to make it “more appealing” to American readers. Personally, I’m very much against the idea of American editors altering the style of a book to make it more like crappy American neo-realism, but there are a number of people I respect who would probably disagree with this. To me, it’s the differences in the style and the structure of international books that is so intriguing . . .

27 August 07 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Only its second issue, Calque is carving a space for itself as an amazing journal of lit in translation.

This issue contains fiction from Jenny Erpenbeck, Mikhail Sokovnin, Marja-Liisa Vartio, interviews with Bill Johnston (translator of Gombrowicz and Rozewicz), and Natasha Wimmer (translator of Bolano).

And for those new to Calque, the first issue now has its own webpage.

25 June 07 | Chad W. Post |

It isn’t exactly new, but I just found out about Calque and wish I had discovered this sooner. Dedicated to literature in translation, the second issue has excerpts from Jenny Erpenbeck’s The Book of Words and Mikhail Sokovnin’s Pages From the Book of Varius along with a number of translated poems and interviews with Bill Johnston and Natasha Wimmer, two of the best translators working today.

Their appeal for money is a bit cute, I can respect anyone taking potshots at Cubs fans. (Although after celebrating with Cardinals Nation in St. Louis last year, I feel like I’m above making fun of teams that spend almost $2 million per regular season victory . . . I’ll get mine though with Wood and Prior get back to 100%.)

Anyway, some institution should really pick this up. It looks like a solid publication that—with the proper support—could bring a lot of attention to literature in translation.

Writers by Antoine Volodine
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .

Read More >

My Brilliant Friend
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Reviewed by Acacia O'Connor

It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .

Read More >

Stealth by Sonallah Ibrahim
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

From the late 1940s to the early 1950s, Egypt was going through a period of transition. The country’s people were growing unhappy with the corruption of power in the government, which had been under British rule for decades. The Egyptians’. . .

Read More >

Miruna, a Tale
Miruna, a Tale by Bogdan Suceavă
Reviewed by Alta Ifland

Miruna is a novella written in the voice of an adult who remembers the summer he (then, seven) and his sister, Miruna (then, six) spent in the Evil Vale with their grandfather (sometimes referred to as “Grandfather,” other times as. . .

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Kamal Jann
Kamal Jann by Dominique Eddé
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

Kamal Jann by the Lebanese born author Dominique Eddé is a tale of familial and political intrigue, a murky stew of byzantine alliances, betrayals, and hostilities. It is a well-told story of revenge and, what’s more, a serious novel that. . .

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I Called Him Necktie
I Called Him Necktie by Milena Michiko Flašar
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

While looking back at an episode in his life, twenty-year-old Taguchi Hiro remembers what his friend Kumamoto Akira said about poetry.

Its perfection arises precisely from its imperfection . . . . I have an image in my head. I see. . .

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Return to Killybegs
Return to Killybegs by Sorj Chalandon
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

The central concern of Sorj Chalandon’s novel Return to Killybegs appears to be explaining how a person of staunch political activism can be lead to betray his cause, his country, his people. Truth be told, the real theme of the. . .

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