The new episode of “That Other Word”—a podcast sponsored by the Center for Writers and Translators and the Center for the Art of Translation and co-hosted by Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito—is now available online.
Sometimes marketing copy is all the copy you need . . . I’ll just let this description speak for itself:
Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito return to the second season of That Other Word energized by the translators’ duels at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the great work being done at the UK-based press And Other Stories. They look forward to new works in translation this fall, including Antonio Tabucci’s The Flying Creatures of Fra Angelico, Basque author and Edinburgh guest Bernardo Atxaga’s Seven Hours in France, and the latest from César Aira, The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira. Daniel Medin hopes that several novels generating interest in Germany and France — Jenny Erpenbeck’s Aller Tage Abend, Clemens J. Setz’s Indigo, and Jean Echenoz’s 14 — will soon be translated as well.
Afterward, Scott Esposito sits down with Margaret Jull Costa, a distinguished translator from Spanish and Portuguese who has brought Javier Marías, José Saramago, and Eça de Queiroz into English. She is the winner of numerous literary awards for translation, including the IMPAC Dublin award for her version of Marías’ A Heart So White. She speaks about her twenty-five year career, her pragmatic approach to translation, her favorite authors and her love of the nineteenth century, as well her thoughts on the evolution of Javier Marías’ style and his latest novel, which she has translated as The Infatuations.
DEFINITELY worth checking out. And you can also subscribe through iTunes.
As you already know, Kiwao Nomura’s Spectacle & Pigsty, translated from the Japanese by Forrest Gander and Kyoko Yoshida won this year’s BTBA for Poetry. As it turns out, the Center for the Art of Translation published a chunk of his work online.
I would excerpt an excerpt of this excerpt, but the spacing is effing nuts to try and figure out right now. Just click here and enjoy.
“Counterfeits,” the new issue of Two Lines, just came out from The Center for the Art of Translation, and looks pretty amazing. As it should, considering that it was guest edited by Luc Sante and Rosanna Warren . . .
This latest volume leads with a special section of innovative, international noir literature from Slovakia, Egypt, Chile, Russia, and more—including a new translation from Steven T. Murray,1 the award-winning translator of Steig Larsson. Featuring a special introductory essay by Luc Sante, as well as introductions by each of the translators, the Focus on Noir Literature delivers a robust exploration of new noir worldwide.
This anthology is further highlighted by poetry editor Rosanna Warren’s selections from Mongolia, Catalan, and Bulgarian, among many others. Printing bilingually throughout, “Counterfeits” features fifteen different languages and includes stunning work from Russian absurdist Sigizmund Krhizhanovsky (his “prose has a recklessly unstable tone . . . [that makes] a delighted examination of impossible worlds,” writes Adam Thirlwell) and mordant Frenchman Albert Cossery—who counted Henry Miller as a fan.
In addition to Krhizhanovsky (BTBA finalist) and Cossery (ditto), this issue also features work from Cesar Aira, Venus Khoury-Ghata, Primo Levi, Goncalo Tavares, Ngo Tu Lap, Henrik Nordbrandt, and many others. In terms of translators, there are pieces translated by Alyson Waters, Lisa Hayden Espenschade, Rhett McNeil, Andrew Oakland, Meena Desai, Chris Andrews, Martha Collins, Alex Zucker, Marilyn Hacker, Andel Rodel, and many more.
Definitely worth checking out . . . Unfortunately, the Two Lines site doesn’t have info on ordering this yet, but will in the near future, I’m sure.
1 AKA Reg Keeland.
The eighteenth annual installment of Two Lines will be edited by Luc Sante and Rosanna Warren, and we’re looking for the best of the best new translations in any genre (poetry, fiction, drama, essay, non-conformist).
In addition to nearly two hundred pages of poetry and fiction from around the world we will also be running a special section of international noir literature. When we say noir, however, we’re not merely looking for the next Stieg Larsson, we’re looking for work that walks the edges of the genre, that attempts something greater or other within (or around) the traditional model. We want poetry that incorporates thematic music, excerpts from graphic novel whodunits of a political slant, or anything you feel might interestingly play with the tropes of noir.
Previously unpublished work only.
Deadline to submit your work is December 1, 2010. No late submissions accepted!
All other details (length, mailing address) can be found at the link above.
Still pounding out some pieces for the Publishing Perspectives Show Daily, so I’ll have to make this quick. (It’s way paranoid, but I have the feeling the Publishing Perspectives people will see this—hello Ed! hi Hannah! hey there Erin!—and wonder why the fuck I’m past my deadline for the pieces I owe them . . . )
But anyway, the new issue of Two Lines from the Center for the Art of Translation arrived, and is way too cool not to at least mention. Even the title—“Some Kind of Beautiful Signal”—is cool. Indie rock cool. Something off of “Painful” cool. Which is fitting considering that two of the coolest translation people in the country guest-edited this particular issue: Natasha Wimmer of Bolano translation fame worked on the prose side of things, and Jeffrey Yang, poet, editor at New Directions, selected the poetry. (Which includes a special folio dedicated to the poetry of the Uyghur ethnic minority in China. Again, super cool.)
Here’s Wimmer’s take on the issue’s title:
Some kind of beautiful signal: that’s what each of these stories sends us. When we read in translation, those signals may come from far away, but they are strong and insistent. Readers in this country have recently proved that they are willing to pick up on some foreign frequencies: the success of Roberto Bolano’s novels is a case in point. As one of Bolano’s translators, I’ve been in the fortunate position of witnessing how one writer can change global perceptions of the literature and culture of an entire region. Writers and translator—and readers—should remind themselves once again of the power of fiction in translation.
There are only about a billion reasons to pick up a copy of this anthology. (Which you’ll be able to do here. The issue featured there now—“Wherever I Lie Is Your Bed”—is also worth checking out, but isn’t the issue I’m writing about.) Including the fact that this is one of the greatest outlets for youngish translators. And for discovering new international writers. It’s an important component of the literary translation scene and supporting CAT helps support a wealth of great programs and opportunities. Heartfelt feelings and obligations aside, the content in this issue totally rocks with all the buzzing emotion of a post-rock epic . . . Anyway, here’s some of the issue’s highlights:
Another solid issue from a wonderful organization.
1 I maybe shouldn’t excerpt this whole paragraph, but well, whatever. It’s too good to resist:
How to recognize a work of art? How to separate it, even if just for a moment, from its critical apparatus, its exegetes, its tireless plagiarizers, its belittlers, its final lonely fate? Easy. Let it be translated. Let its translator be far from brilliant. Rip pages from it at random. Leave it lying in an attic. If after all of this a kid comes along and reads it, and after reading it makes it his own, and is faithful to it (or unfaithful, whichever) and reinterprets it and accompanies it on its voyage to the edge, and both are enriched and the kid adds an ounce of value to its original value, then we have something before us, a machine or a book, capable of speaking to all human beings: not a plowed field but a mountain, not the image of a dark forest but the dark forest, not a flock of birds but the Nightingale.
The Center for the Art of Translation recently redesigned its website, which provides a perfect opportunity to reiterate just how awesome CAT is. Lots of amazing stuff on here, including a killer list of upcoming events, an interview with Susan Bernofsky about translating Robert Walser, and information about Two Lines.
So if you haven’t been to the CAT site—or haven’t been in a while—I highly recommend checking it out . . . Especially since the new layout is really pretty . . .
Last week, the Center for the Art of Translation started a fundraising campaign for their Poetry Inside Out program. Thought some of you might be interested in contributing:
This week, we’re starting a campaign to raise $15,000 to bring Poetry Inside out to 250 new students this fall. We’d like to ask all the translators, publishers, writers, and readers out there to help us. If you love world lit, this is your chance to help bring that literature to young readers.
This is what we do: since 2000 PIO has worked with more than 5,000 students through residencies that place poet-translators in Bay Area classrooms. Our program inspires children from the inside out. They learn to take risks, be creative, and use imagination and critical thinking skills as they read, write, and translate poems by the world’s great poets. Our curriculum includes poems in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Arabic, Latvian, Italian, and Japanese–children are introduced to writing from all around the world, and hopefully they go on to love translated literature for the rest of their lives!
Over the past decade we’ve forged strong partnerships with schools, but these ties are being threatened. Like many other states, California is out of money. When these cuts take effect, arts-enrichment programs–even ones as rigorous and clearly beneficial as Poetry Inside Out–are often the first things that are eliminated.
That’s why we’re reaching out to the community to offset these budget cuts and continue to offer Poetry Inside Out residencies in Bay Area classrooms. School program fees cover only one third of the cost of the program, and even that is uncertain for the fall.
The $15,000 we’re hoping to raise before June 18 will support 10 in-school residencies–that’s teachers for more than 250 Bay Area kids, who will learn to love translations, world literature, and creative writing.
If you can help, click the link to make a donation. All donations–no matter the size–will help us reach our goal and bring poetry and translation to students.
December isn’t all about gift getting, crowded shopping malls, uncomfortable family gatherings, and cookies—it’s also about year-end donations to worthy non-profit organizations such as the Center for the Art of Translation.
As an added incentive, if you donate more than $5 to CAT, you’ll be entered in a drawing to win books from translators featured in the Lit&Lunch series. Specifically, here are the prizes:
First prize is a three-book package featuring two of this year’s most exciting translators: Natasha Wimmer and Breon Mitchell. The winner receives translator-signed copies of Roberto Bolano’s 2666 and Gunter Grass’s The Tin Drum, plus a copy of the newest Two Lines anthology, Wherever I Lie Is Your Bed.
Two runners-up will each receive a translator-signed copy of The Tin Drum and a copy of Wherever I Lie Is Your Bed.
Every donation really counts, which is why we brought the threshold for this giveaway to just $5. Those who pledge $20 or more will get 3 chances to win, and those who sign up for a recurring donation totaling $50 or more over the course of next year will have 5 chances to win these excellent books.
Click here for all the details, links to donate, etc.
One of the biggest international literature publishing events of this fall has to be the release of Breon Mitchell’s new translation of Gunter Grass’s masterpiece The Tin Drum. This is an event in the grand sense of the word, and definitely worth checking out.
We wrote about this back over the summer, quoting extensively from Breon’s afterword about the reasons for the new translation, but rather than read that post, you can simply listen to this podcast of Breon’s recent appearance in the Center for the Art of Translation’s Lit&Lunch series.
Breon’s a great speaker, and Grass’s technique of bringing together his translators to go through the book page-by-page with tips and whatnot is absolutely fascinating.
Our events calendar is a bit empty right now (if you’re hosting—or attending—any interesting events related to international literature, please e-mail us so that we can include it on that calendar to the right . . ), but there are a number of interesting events coming up that might be of interest.
Following up on the last post about Natasha Wimmer, she’s actually doing two events next month in San Francisco for the Center for the Art of Translation. On October 6, she’d doing a Lit&Lunch event called “Translating a Latin American Superstar” and revolving around Roberto Bolano, and on October 7th, she’lll discuss Bolano with novelist Daniel Alarcón.
On the same two days but on the opposite coast, the Polish Cultural Institute (and a slew of partners, including Words Without Borders) are putting on series of events under the title “After Kapuscinski: The Art of Reportage in the 21st Century.” Participants include Anna Bikont, Ted Conover, Philip Gourevitch, Eliza Griswold, Wojciech Jagielski, Alistair Reid, Pawel Smolenski, Lawrence Weschler, and many others. Full event listings can be found here but all three panels will take place in the evening at NYU’s Hemmerdinger Hall.
Finally, this is a bit further off, but on November 6th, the Ramon Llull Institut is putting on a colloquium entitled “Standing in the Shadows: Catalan Literature and English Translation.” Admission is by invite only, but if you’re lucky enough to be invited (or interested enough to beg for an invite), it looks to be pretty interesting. Mary Ann Caws, Lyn Hejinian, Francesc Parcerisas, Carlin Romano, Jill Schoolman, will all be participating.
According to an e-mail they sent out yesterday:
We’re eager to make the blog a resource for people who love literature, especially the translated variety. Already there are a number of interesting articles up, and in the next few months we’ll be publishing interviews with authors and translators, original articles written just for Two Words, and news on international authors.
You’ll also find links to audio from our series of events in San Francisco. We’re working on making several years’ of audio available, and you can currently hear people like Edith Grossman, Robert Hass, and Yoko Tawada talk about literature and translation.
We’re really excited about the blog and all the great content that they’ll be putting up soon. Go check it out.
Jose Manuel Prieto’s Rex is one of my favorite books so far from 2009, and Esther Allen is one of my favorite translation people. Which is why I’m thrilled that CAT just made available this series of audio clips from a discussion between Prieto and Allen from earlier this year.
Two Lines (and the Center for the Art of Translation as a whole) is one of the most impressive annual anthologies of literature in translation being published today. (Actually, most of those qualifiers can be eliminated: it’s one of the best annual publications in the world.)
One of the reasons for the organization’s success (in addition to a staff that includes Olivia Sears, Annie Janusch, and now Scott Esposito), are the amazing guest editors they get to work on the anthologies.
The next volume (the seventeenth) will be edited by translator Natasha Wimmer (one of the absolute best, most well known for 2666 and The Savage Detectives) and poet and translator Jeffrey Yang.
I’m convinced that they will put together one of the best Two Lines yet. And if you’re a publisher or translator and want to submit something to the magazine, you should contact Annie Janusch at ajanusch at catranslation dot org before November 25th . . .
The 28th Northern California Book Awards were held in San Francisco last weekend, and, in conjunction with the Center for the Art of Translation, they awarded a Translation Award “to bring attention to all the wonderful translations coming out of the Bay Area and to encourage local audiences to read more international literature.”
This year’s winner was Katherine Silver, for her translation of Horacio Castellanos Moya’s Senselessness.
Here’s a list of the nominees:
It’s a worthy list, and we’re not about to argue with the result. Senselessness is an incredible novel, and the translation is wonderful as well.
If you’d like a chance to meet Moya, and maybe get him to sign a copy of Senselessness for you, you can catch him at the PEN World Voices Festival next week. One of his events is with our own Jan Kjaerstad, which we couldn’t be more pleased about.
Over at Entre Los Espacios, Rose Mary Salum is continuing her line-up of bad-ass interviews. Last month she talked with a slew of editors at translation literary journals (such as Absinthe and Calque), and today she has a nice interview with Annie Janusch from Two Lines.
And tying in to the previous post about editing translations:
What would seem to be the essential editorial challenge when working with translations?
Since translation editors aren’t in a position to, say, recommend revising a particular passage so that it moves the narrative along differently, the editorial focus is on honing and crafting the language, maintaining consistency in voice, style, or intangibles like “spirit.” When I read a draft of a translation of a story, I read it as closely as I would a poem, pausing over every word and weighing every choice. This can lead to endless questioning.
We don’t usually post job opportunities on the blog (maybe because there aren’t that many translation related job openings out there?), but this sounds really interesting:
The Center for the Art of Translation seeks a Director of Marketing with publishing experience to take the lead in promoting its programs and publications in the Bay Area and beyond. The Center is a non-profit organization promoting cultural understanding through translation; we have programs in publishing and education as well as an event series. The Director of Marketing will oversee general marketing efforts, publication promotion, the organization’s website, and media relations. He or she will be responsible for creating, driving, and managing new marketing strategies in support of the organization’s goals to increase readership, increase numbers of students served by our educational programs, and expand event attendance through traditional and new media methods.
The position is currently a part-time role with a minimum of 24 hours per week. Schedule and hours will fall during the standard business hours of the Center. A generous vacation package and insurance stipend are offered upon completion of a three-month probationary period. This position reports to the Executive Director.
To apply, please send resume, cover letter and three writing samples (press releases, tip sheets, or other copy) to firstname.lastname@example.org, addressed to:
While I was out of the office last week, the new issue of Two Lines arrived. This is the fifteenth volume of Two Lines, which is really impressive, and as always, the production quality and contents are both excellent.
The “theme” of this particular issue is “Strange Harbors,” which can be interpreted (like all of the Two Lines themes) in a number of ways. Pulitzer-nominated playwright and novelist John Biguenet and poet and Turkish translator Sidney Wade co-edited this volume, and, in my opinion, did a fantastic job in including established writers and translators and a host of new voices.
Some of the highlights include:
Basically, I could just copy over the entire Table of Contents . . . In addition to all the great fiction and poetry included in each issue of Two Lines, I really enjoy this journal because it gives me a chance to find out about new translators, and to see what people are working on these days. And the trim size (approx. 5.5” tall by 8” wide) is strangely intriguing and appealing. Anyway, you can order copies online or find them at better bookstores everywhere.
And in terms of future issues, volume 16 will be edited by Margaret Jull Costa and Marilyn Hacker (wow!) and information about submitting is available online. The deadline is October 31st.
Ari Messer — who works at Stone Bridge Press and freelances for the San Francisco Bay Guardian — is going to be covering some West Coast translation related events for us. (And possibly some interviews as well.) Here to kick things off is a write-up of a recent “Lit & Lunch” event put on by the Center for the Art of Translation.
Continuing what has become an invaluable tradition for the literary translation community in the Bay Area, the Center for the Art of Translation held another “Lit & Lunch” reading last Tuesday at the 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco’s SoMa district. Featuring translators Sidney Wade and Erdağ Göknar, “Turkish Writing Today” wasn’t nearly as packed as W.S. Merwin’s “Lit & Lunch” last month — where he pontificated sweetly on everything from the Troubadours to Ezra Pound’s surprisingly positive influence (to paraphrase: “You are too young to have anything to write about yet. You think you do, but you don’t. Go translate.”) — but there was still a sizable turnout, including a handful of people who, judging by a show of hands, actually spoke Turkish. Both translators were grateful for a chance to speak about translation in a public forum. In Göknar’s intro, he said, “Translation is often work that is done in silence, and then . . . remains that way.” We laughed, but it’s unfortunately too true.
Wade, an acclaimed poet, highly musical translator, and professor at the University of Florida, read a striking version of Orhan Veli Kanık’s “I Am Listening to Istanbul with My Eyes Closed,” setting the mood for a string of contemplative, sensory-oriented poetry that seemed to move outward in concentric rings from initial moments of personal perception. Wade, guest poetry editor for the CAT’s next Two Lines anthology (coming soon), closed with three new translations from that book: “With Your Voice” by Zeynep Uzunbay, translated by Saliha Paker and Mel Kenne; “Done with the City” by Gülten Akin, translated by Cemal Demircioglu, Arzu Eker, and Mel Kenne; and “Rosestrikes and Coffee Grinds” by Seyhan Erozçelik, translated by Murat Nemet-Nejat. She prefaced the Erozçelik poem (#3 in a series about coffee grinds) with a statement about the prevalence of fortune telling using coffee grinds in Turkey, and while she read the poem there was a palpable sense in the room of being transported to a realm just beyond the everyday (and certainly beyond the chaos of downtown SF).
Wade, who does poetry, and Göknar, who does prose, both noted Western readers’ lack of context when reading Turkish writing in translation, especially Orhan Pamuk’s “revolutionary” and “activist” writing, labels that readers are prone to invoke while ignoring his esteemed (and vast and deeply literary) historical imagination. They also discussed how the linguistic structure of Turkish naturally leads to epic, unfolding lists (even in poetry), making it the job of the translator not to keep these unravellings engaging — they usually are already — but to organize them in a way that feels natural in English, uncluttered but full of surprises.
Göknar read from his award-winning translation of Pamuk’s My Name is Red, noting how Pamuk plays with “the linguistic genealogy of a 16th-century novel,” then gave a sneak preview of his translation of Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar’s A Mind at Peace, coming in August from Archipelago. He noted that in the face of numerous inquiries he receives for doing new translations, Archipelago was the first press to ask him which book he thought should be translated. Good thing they did. Even the brief excerpt from the novel, which Pamuk has called “the greatest novel ever written about Istanbul,” already felt magical and haunting, and it was cool to have a sneak preview, since Göknar had just noted that Tanpınar (1901-62) was known more as a poet during his lifetime, his novels mainly existing in serialized form until after his death. International film festivals get their snazzy previews — we want our literary ones!
We don’t usually post event info here, but based on the nature of (and Three Percent/Open Letter connection to) this event, I think it’s definitely worth highlighting.
All this info is repeated below, but as part of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference (a.k.a. AWP), the Center for the Art of Translation is hosting a happy hour on Friday night at the Times Square Information Center (really).
Here are all the details:
World Literature at the Crossroads
Translation Happy Hour and Reading
The Center for the Art of Translation invites you to a celebration of global voices in Times Square with acclaimed authors and translators from 15 years of TWO LINES: World Writing in Translation, including:
as well as Luisa Igloria reading from Tagalog and Erica Weitzman reading from Albanian
and C.M. Mayo with a tribute to special guest GREGORY RABASSA
Gregory Rabassa will be signing copies of our latest anthology, New World/New Words: Recent Writing from the Americas.
Refreshments will be served.
Join us to toast world literature and translation in the beautifully-restored landmark Embassy Movie Theatre on 7th Avenue, at the crossroads of the world!
Friday February 1, 2008
Times Square Information Center
1560 Broadway (7th Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets)
For more information about this event and the TWO LINES World Library, visit www.catranslation.org.
Should be an amazing event, and I’ll definitely be there—along with other Reading the World publishers—this line-up is pretty amazing. . . . And it’s always fun to party with international lit people. Not to mentiuon, Open Letter will be publishing Jorge Volpi’s No Sera la Tierra in the fall of 2009, and an excerpt from Vilnius Poker by Ricardas Gavelis (forthcoming from OL in Feb 2009) is in the next issue of Two Lines . . . (One of these days we’ll post a complete list of our forthcoming books.)
Anyway, I hope to meet some of you there . . .
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. . .