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.
Though far from the most convincing reason to read literature in translation, one common side effect is learning of another culture, of its history. Within that, and a stronger motivation to read, is the discovery of stories not possible within. . .
Despite cries that literature is dead, dying, and self-replicating in the worst way, once in a while a book comes along to remind readers that there’s still a lot of surprise to be found on the printed page. To be. . .
“I was small. And my village was small, I came to know that in time. But when I was small it was big for me, so big that when I had to cross it from one end to the other,. . .
A few weeks after moving into a farm house in the Welsh countryside, Emilie, an expatriate from the Netherlands, starts to think about her uncle. This uncle tried to drown himself in a pond in front of the hotel where. . .
Think back to the last adventure- or action-type book you read. Wasn’t it cool? Didn’t it make you want to do things, like learn to shoot a crossbow, hack complicated information systems, travel to strange worlds, take on knife-wielding thugs,. . .
In Aira’s Shantytown, while we’re inside the characters’ heads for a good portion of the story, the voice we read on the page is really that of Aira himself, as he works out the plot of the book he’s writing.. . .
Noir is not an easy genre to define—or if it once was, that was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away; as a quick guess, maybe Silver Lake, Los Angeles, 1935. When two books as different as. . .