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.
After briefly lamenting the fact that there’s not a lot of places to turn to to learn about/gain exposure to international poetry, I opened my mail and found the new issue of Rattapallax, which, along with CALQUE and Circumference, is one of the best sources for poetry in translation. This particular issue kicks off by featuring eleven Bengali poets . . .
Also arriving within the past few days is issue #11 of PEN America, which also has some great international content, including: an interview between Adam Gopnik and Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, fiction by Alejandro Zambra (from Megan McDowell’s translation of The Private Lives of Trees, which cough cough, Open Letter is publishing in the spring, but isn’t credited for in the journal . . .), memoir from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and poetry by Liu Xiaobo (trans by Jeffrey Yang). (And a piece by Ed Park!)
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 . . .
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. . .