The french novel Zone by Mathias Énard has been receiving some early press for a few reasons.
1. We’re publishing it (with an English translation by Charlotte Mandell) in spring 2010.
2. It’s about 500 pages.
3. It’s about 1 sentence.
The Chicago Tribune just ran an article, including some helpful references to other long sentences with which you may be familiar. Within the article, Chad helpfully describes this incredible book:
Open Letter Books at the University of Rochester has purchased the rights to the book and expects to publish a translation by Charlotte Mandell in spring 2010, according to Chad Post, the press director.
But is the record-setter gibberish? Not at all, says Post.
“It’s told from inside this guy’s mind as he takes a train trip,” he says. “It has a lot of commas.”
Intrigued? Here’s a little excerpt.
This past weekend, Pat Reardon featured Dalkey Archive Press, Northwestern University Press, University of Illinois Press, and University of Chicago Press in an article for the Chicago Tribune about how the State of Illinois is one of the centers of translation in the country.
Translators are unofficial ambassadors, negotiating the meeting of two cultures, says Willis Regier, director of the University of Illinois Press.
And, although little recognized locally, one of the major centers of this sort of literary diplomacy is Illinois, home of four publishing houses with strong translation programs, responsible for some 50 translations each year.
Put together, these four presses are pretty impressive—Northwestern’s “Writings from an Unbound Europe” series alone is pretty remarkable and includes a ton of impressive authors.
It’s also worth noting that Reardon is talking about all translations, not just fiction and poetry. (For instance, the bit about U of I Press mentions that they specialize “in non-fiction works by scholars and great writers, such as Simone de Beauvoir and Ludwig van Beethoven.”) In terms of fiction and poetry, a small segment of Brooklyn would compete with Illinois in terms of translation dominance . . . In Gowanus and Dumbo alone one can find Ugly Duckling Press, Archipelago Books, and Melville House, three of the top publishers of literary translations in the country.
Personally, my favorite part of this article is John O’Brien’s quote that “This area is translation territory.” It calls to mind images of Illinois as the wild west of international writing, where roving editors carry around bilingual dictionaries . . .
Rather than blogging the crap out of Harry Potter (a la the Chicago Tribune—just check their last 10 posts), the Guardian has an interesting post on Blaise Cendrars, whose Moravagine was reprinted by—yep, again—NYRB a few years back.
Fascinating and strange, it’s great to see that someone in the world of mainstream newspapers is drawing attention to his work.
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. . .