26 November 12 | Kaija Straumanis |

When it comes to the representation of lesser-known countries and their literatures, I’m clearly one to have a personal bias toward pitching anything Latvian to the world at large (moment of self-promotion: Open Letter Books will be publishing the English translation of Latvian author Inga Ābele’s novel High Tide in fall 2013), but the fact of the matter is that the problems behind spreading the love of translated literature—be it an issue of finding translators, publishers, or readers—applies to any small country that’s trying to introduce itself to the English-speaking literary market (and also applies to the translation and publishing of foreign literatures in general). So it was much to my delight that an article titled “Unchain My Language!” popped up on Euronews.net a few weeks ago showcasing Latvian author Inga Žolude, one of the 2011 European Union Prize for Literature winners.

The video and transcript of the interview were prepared by Euronews.net’s “Generation Y,” who traveled to Latvia (FATHERLAND!!!) to talk with Žolude, as well as her translator, Suzanne McQuade, and others involved in the Latvian literary and publishing industry on the topic of Latvian literature in translation. In addition to lauding Žolude’s accomplishments as a young writer, the article touches on the difficulties of getting foreign literature published abroad, especially when that literature is being written in languages largely unspoken outside its respective country’s borders.

While it’s not entirely clear why the good people of Generation Y (and their endearingly questionable use of video graphics) came to pick Latvia as their destination, their choice was a good one, and the interview gives Žolude and the other interviewees the opportunity to make some excellent statements and observations on literary translation and its finer points. And though they ultimately bring up topics that are often discussed in the world of literary translation, the importance of these topics cannot be stressed or repeated enough.

Generation Y traveled to Riga to meet Inga Zolude, a 28-year-old Latvian writer, who was one of the winners of the European Union Prize for Literature last year.

“I think there should be an interest in Latvian literature because Latvian Literature is unique, it is different and specific, it’s very high quality literature. I hope that the time when it is fully discovered on a bigger scale is approaching,” she says.

That is what this is all about. The European Prize for Literature aims to promote the circulation of books in a continent where the diversity of languages is often a barrier.

In addition to the video, Generation Y also linked to translation samples of Žolude’s work, the English sample of which you can find here.

24 May 12 | Chad W. Post | Comments

The second Eurovision semi-finals kick off in less than an hour, by which time I was hoping to have posted another set of overviews and predictions from Janis Stirna, our Eurovision correspondent. Unfortunately, Janis went dark after it was announced on Tuesday that Latvia DIDN’T make it to the finals. (Which, is bullshit, although Anmary & Co. did look like a bunch of Eastern European cougars out on the prowl.) After a bit of begging—the things I’ll do for this website—I managed to get Janis to give us one last, final last send off post. Goodbye Janis, we hardly knew ye!

Hello my friends.

I am unfortunate very very sorrowful this day. Sorrowful and maybe a little with a headachings. If You have been watching Eurovision songgames semi-final 1 yesterday, You maybe are knowing that my motherland Latvia has not been making it to Eurovision songgames finals for to be on Saturday.

No, I am not very sorrowful. I am very OUTRAGE. Why for is motherlands like Albania with screaming of the chalk and also even Russian matryoshka Omas are making it to finals, but Latvia with good voice sounds and shiny dresses is not making it anywhere? EMBARRASSMENT AND DISHONOR! Yes yes I am for to know and understand Eurovision songgames is not complete seriousness, but I am not able but to help feeling upset at results of making votings. If You, my friends, could see my face, it is a face of frowning. Frowning and outrage. At least is some satisfying in knowledge that woki popo boys of Austria and San Marino with crazy eyes woman are also not for to perform in finals. That is what you are getting for being fail and horrid.

AND WHY FOR IS LATVIA NO MORE IN SONGGAMES! Outrage! Again! Oh, and if peoples of Europe are thinking Latvia is no good for Eurovision songgames, I will show just how good other motherland songs will also not be, oh yes, permit me to be showing You what semi-finals 2 results should be making because it is clear now anyone can be expert in making of big decisions for things such like songgames.

Serbia: I am sleeping already from piano. NO-VOTE.

FYR Macedonia: Is Cher without Sonny. NO-VOTE.

Netherlands: Too many birds have been being killed for fancy hats. NO-VOTE.

Malta: Is like Ross from show “Friends” but is having so few friends in video. Friends who did not make voting for Latvia. NO-VOTE.

Belarus: I am not needing to explain why for NO-VOTE.

Portugal: Oh look I am sleeping once more. NO-VOTE.

Ukraine: Should probably be winning Eurovision songgames 2012. But anyway NO-VOTE.

Bulgaria: Eurovision is no place for musical of high schools. NO-VOTE.

Slovenia: Overly many things on heads. NO-VOTE.

Croatia: Is only enough spaces in earth for one Celine Dion. NO-VOTE.

Sweden: Where for is her face and eyes and why for all the moving? NO-VOTE.

Georgia: Why for? No really, WHY FOR. NO-VOTE.

Turkey: Little boy is needing all instruments in Turkey for to make one song. Overachieve. NO-VOTE.

Estonia: Thank You for the pleasantries nap again. NO-VOTE.

Slovakia: What for in the naming of every thing what is holy. ALL NO-VOTES ALL TIMES.

Norway: Is preparation for culttimes? Will we be having for to drink juices? NO-VOTE.

Bosnia-Herzegovina: Why for is piano in metallurgy shop? NO-VOTE.

Lithuania: Oh good, Lithuania has been finding Michael Jackson replacer. What for is world coming to. NO-VOTE.

Eurovision songgames has been breaking my spirits and soul. And remainder of world is still not understanding Europe. Are we always still wondering why?

Thank You for listening, friends. I will perhaps be going and crying some time now.

22 May 12 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Two Janis Stirna posts in one day! This is quite a treat! Anyway, he sent this in to me less than half an hour ago, with just enough time for me to get it online before the semi-finals kick off. Again, if you haven’t read his earlier pieces, you can find them here, here, and here. And I’ll be back with some more literary things in the very near future.

Hello again friends! I make this writing again quickfast for we are having fewer than 45 minutes before Eurovision songgames semi-finals 1!!! Are we all going to have funtimes together? We are starting for last six Eurovision motherlands contestants in semi-finals 1. Ready? Okay!

Denmark: Girl Captain is having a good singing time, and will maybe probably be having a place in Eurovision songgames finals. I am not to understanding for Girl Captain’s captain hat. Where is boat? Where is boat for to float away on trip to meet doppelgänger Sandi Thom of United Kingdom Englands?

Russia: Why for is all the Omas??! With Omas in area is NEVER party! No party for no one! Omas are for to making every peoples eating cold porridge and taking short sleep times in midday and wearing highsocks even in weather of sun and hot and sweat. Boom Boom Boom Russia how are you thinking! I am afraid for to say more or else Oma wrath will be happening oh yes. I am thinking no-vote for songgames finals, but maybe yes-vote for semi-finals.

Hungary: Something about sad times, maybe, but rich man has poor bum twin and… What? Hello? Oh, apologies, I have been falling asleep from having boredom.

Austria: All popos making woki? What is woki?! Austria boys are choosing most prostitution womens and placing of them in clothings that is not clothings. And having of poles for to dance onto. Is hard for to keep concentration when is so much lightings and colorings and woop woop wokitimes. Is like aggressive stripclubbings for boys who are not for to win at life. No-vote!

Moldova: Moldova is recycling old MTV times sets? And finding singer who is lovechild of Edward Norton and Colin Farrell? Jajaja! I am liking of the stomping and clubscene and music vibings. Is jiving and happening, man! Yes-votes more.

Ireland: Why for is Ireland bringing back little boys of obnoxious twinness? Is not same song of Eurovision songgames previous? Is just riding waves of silly sadness and hairs that are too much and parents who must be crying much all the nights and asking theirselves how late is too late for putting offsprings for to adoption. Have I to say it? NO.

22 May 12 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Today is the day of the first Eurovision semi-final! (Which you can watch live on the Eurovision.tv site.) To celebrate, we have a new post from Janis about six more contestants participating today. If you missed his earlier posts be sure and read his introduction to Eurovision and his take on the first six contestants. And for anyone still confused by the Eurovision love . . . Just go with it. The finals are Saturday, so this is the last week of laughing at these amazing videos. For now.

Hello my friends! It is Your friend Janis again—we are having very few times before it is starting of semi-finals 1 for Eurovision songgames!!! I am so very excite I cannot keep my days and minutes from jumblings into a melty pot of jumbliness! Also because we are having such few times before songgames semi-finals, I am having fewer times to write to You long introduction for my writings.

Oh but wait please—I must ask shortly if peoples are also seeing not so many yesvotes for songgames finals. Or am I only the one? It is cause for many upsets in my heart and brain and also sometimes of the stomach. Also I have been drinking grapewine. So friends I hope You will not be angered by my upsettings, but will take pleasantries and amusements in my following words! Let us continue and watch semi-finals 1 together Tuesday! See You there!

Switzerland: Switzerland is making songs of stereotype rock and robot positivity? HEI IS JEFF GOLDBLUM! He is for to sing with U2 songings and bangings of many robotic ninja secretaries? Oh yes Jeff, swim for dreams and make of the secretary bangings. You, Goldblum, with the dirty ninja songings. For you will not be banging anypersons in Eurovision songgames finals.

Belgium: How old is Belgium girl? Her skirtdress is much too little for her ages. Where is parentings of Belgium girl!? Put on longskirt, for to make grandmothers (and yes also myself) not so uncomfy. And what for is Belgium singer making so many squattings? Is exercise video for Eurovision songgames? Is commercial for blockage of intestinalization? Hei Belgium, I am having some news: any other SONG will do.

Finland: Watch out for sweeping currents dancer of rapid approachings!! She is making of the quickkicks and angry ninjahands. Oh now see, I am spending many seconds looking at smokes and ninjahands dancer and am already forgetting of Finland songgames contestant. Except for to know Finland dress is from rolling in green leaves of ferns. Or of peacocks. Oh Finland. No no no.

Israel: NO, PLEASE. More pleasant would be for to tip satan-hot water on arms when trying to make draining of pasta noodles with inadequate kitchen utensilry.

San Marino: San Marino is obvious making efforts for to be Serene Republic of Crappings? And of cyber sexing!? Perhaps more satisfactory is Serene Republic of WHORING. San Marino maybe is thinking Facebook social network IS internets. News for you, San Marino: IS NOT. IS NOT INTERNETS. ALSO, GAGGLING IS NO WORD ANYWHERE EVER.

Cyprus: is making copycatting of Belarus Dmitry Koldun of 2007, who was having fake guitarings but also horned witch woman in picturevideo, and is also sounding as every other clubsong in Europe. Ah, look, is hunter man for to make savings of the day! I am betting he is coming for to eat her apple—if you are knowing what I am telling.

Thank You friends, I will make a pause for a time and be returned with more Eurovision songgames writings in some hours! Let us watch together! Excite!

16 May 12 | Chad W. Post | Comments

After a minor hiatus, Janis Stirna is back with his on-going preview of the Eurovision. The semi-finals start next Tuesday (5/22), and he promised me he’d cover all the entries before the finals along with all his yes/no votes on who will make it to the finals.

Hello my friends.

If You are here today this is meaning You are again with me in following Eurovision songgames! However before I am telling you my yesvotes and novotes and wonderings of European motherland songgames contestants, I first must to be telling you answers to questionings.

Is Janis Latvian? I am. Is Janis making writings hisself? I am! I am writer in motherland Latvia and am enjoying to write and write all the times I have possibilities for to write. But what for to make writings hisself if Janis can be finding translators by Americas, that are plentiful of English knowing peoples?! Or maybe by Chad W. Post, that is plentiful of knowing all peoples?!

My answer is easy. I, Janis, too am writing and knowing of English as well. I am working many years hard for learning English of book and picturefilms—my English is something You are understanding and this is most important thing, so why for should I search of translators? Translatoring is also lasting long days and I am not all the times joyous of outcome. It is also priding for me to be writing at You of my own wordings.

But now is time for more Eurovision songgames writings! I am for to write at You first of semi-finals 1 European motherlands, then of semi-finals 2 motherlands. I will for to make of groupings, yes? There are also click-links for to viewing of picturevideos of musics! Are You excite?! Here we are going!

Montenegro: Peoples question at MY English? Singing man is not even singing, but is making rhymings. Rhymings of talking! And why for to burning globe??? IS PERFECTLY GOOD GLOBE!! I am finding donkey friend of singing man with no sense globe burn rhymings finding greatly more interesting than singing man hisself. Sorry, Montenegro, but European motherlands already are having one Italian Jovanotti-type singer—his name is Jovanotti and he is of Italy. Maybe picturevideo of donkey friend only is better idea. I am thinking no songgames finals for Montenegro.

Iceland: Ooh, fancy violin soundings. Song words are of serious times, maybe also sad times. Music is also sounding serious and well, also music is sounds very very familiarity… BUT HEI WAIT. This Jonsi is not Sigur Ros Jonsi. Is Iceland playing trickery? Fancy violin soundings and fancy picturevideos will not be putting sheepswool atop on MY eyes, Iceland, oh no! Not this day!

Greece: HELLO GREEK FRIEND. Oh yes hello. Greece is not having trickeries. Greece is finding most beauteous non-prostitution woman in shortest dress and wind in hair who can sing sexywords on stages made of light and mens with unnatural bendiness of arms and legs. Thank you, Greeceland. Oh yes thank you for not making trickeries. Oh yes. See you at songgames finals, Greece.

Latvia: Look, friends, is my motherland country Latvia! Our woman also is beauteous, but with songwords that make none of the sense. Yet Latvia songgames song is like soundworm in Your ear. A soundworm speaking words of none of the sense. And this worm, he is never leaving your brain and You are thinking and singing all of the times. HEI. Why no one dance in Airport Riga when I am flying? Is extra possibility on ticketings?! AirBaltic, we are to be in contacts soon, and Latvia I am thinking also will be in songgames finals.

Albania: Albania woman is letting her childrens make writings on wall? While she is making standing and song in box? Where to have her feets gone? Though she IS having a voice of strongness and winning, but is filling of sad. OH YES, probably because nobody will be understanding her songwords. Maybe following year, Albania is making songwords in normal languages. And maybe following year Albania also is making it to finals because this year NO. No.

Romania: In what country is Romania picturevideo happening? Is desert, is drummings, is Abu Dhabi, is Scottish bagpipings… She is globetrotting so quickfast! Perhaps she has possibilities for to time travel? Romanian woman singing is much like Spain musics of previous songgames, but with more gyrations of bodies and chest bubbles. And accordion! Perhaps Romania will share time travel secrets and show more of the gyrations when we are seeing her in songgames finals.

So there my friends is first six semi-finals 1 Eurovision songgames explaining by Your friend Janis, me! I will bring you more words of Eurovision soon, but I must now go to trap my train or else be making seering walking to City Center from homehold. Let us hold our thumbs for all songgames contestants (yes also the so silly ones) and see you soon next time for writings.

7 May 12 | Chad W. Post | Comments

We here at Three Percent clearly love Eurovison. To celebrate this year’s version of the World’s Greatest Music Competition we asked Latvian writer Janis Stirna to write a month-long series of articles about all the contestants. In our excitement to “get to the whale” (so to speak), we knew we wouldn’t have time to adequately translate his pieces, so we asked him to write in English, which he assured us wasn’t a problem. (Everyone in Latvia knows English, apparently.) His next post will be about more of the semi-finalists and will probably contain lots of videos . . . Enjoy!

Hello my friends.

Welcome to month of May, that of many things is also month of Eurovision! You are asking what is Eurovision? Why, Eurovision is only most important songgames contest in Europe and other countries You do not know are to exist either! In Eurovision times, is time for us to show whole world how many talent is we have (and sometimes how many awful is we have too—as example how we have no good musics, or how much dancing and how covered in buttocks our mens is or how much pretty and how covered in breasts our womens is—and how few clothings they all can wearing). Is also time for us to show all world fundamental approximations of European politics and what countries are best friends and what countries think what other countries should go to home of Devil Satan in wicker box with handle. Is true!

How is Eurovision contest working? Firstly, all countries play songgames in their motherlands for to choose what music to send to big songgames contest. Because Azerbaijan land was winning last year, Eurovision contest is this year in Baku. So then all countries this year play their songgames and are having their peoples voting, then take their country’s winner and say “Hello, Baku, we are to sending of ________ for big songgames contest!” And Baku say “Okay, motherland friends, we are welcoming of ________ to Baku and see You in end of May goodbye!”

Secondly and thirdly Baku is welcoming all countries that are participate in Eurovision and all peoples are watching semi-finals 1 and 2. In this year of 2012 will be participate 42 countries—is already 5 of countries, sometimes called “big countries” which are every year automatical in grand final because they are big and puffy-headed and are always best always, even when they have silly song or song that make You want for self-knifings in ear and eyes and sometimes arms. These are countries United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, France. Also winner from year previous is getting to be already in grand final with puffy-head lands. Is only making sense.

In semi-finals 1 and 2 and in grand final all peoples of all 42 countries are making voting on SMS. One may not voting for own motherland, but one may voting for all other countries. In all times one may voting on SMS 20 votings. I do not know what happening if voting for own motherland, maybe they finding You and making You for to sleep with angry pigs or drinking of strange poisons for example this liquid I have heard in stories Rootbeer. In stories it is brown and magic and tasting at same time of pig mud and sunshines and how childrens of Americas they love it. Pig mud?! How is they not poisoned?

Then comes grand finals times. So good times! Grand finals is taking 10 countries from semi-finals 1 and 10 countries from semi-finals 2 and 5 big puffy-head countries and also Baku and making of big Eurovision songgames times. All grand finals countries are singing once more and hoping for peoples to make voting for them on SMS. Votings are then make by every 42 motherlands playing 2012 Eurovision songgames and giving points of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and then 10 and 12 for specified motherland favorite. Is also Jury making votings, but no peoples are caring. Sorry Jury! At end, country with most votings of peoples is winning—and then Eurovision songgames contest of following year is in country of winning. Then we are starting songgames processing from all beginning once more! My country Latvia was winning in year 2002 with Marija Naumova, who has been taking off of clothings but also having a voice. A voice of strong winning!!

You are now maybe understanding more on Eurovision?? Hoping?? Next time I bring You talks of motherland songgames music for Baku 2012 year. I am to writing things of each country until semi-finals times! I have hoping You will come back to take part of reading??

So let us be friending and watching Eurovision times together! So much musics!! I am very excite!!!!

....
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. . .

Read More >

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. . .

Read More >

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. . .

Read More >

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. . .

Read More >

The Last Days
The Last Days by Laurent Seksik
Reviewed by Peter Biellp

Spoiler alert: acclaimed writer Stefan Zweig and his wife Lotte kill themselves at the end of Lauren Seksik’s 2010 novel, The Last Days.

It’s hard to avoid spoiling this mystery. Zweig’s suicide actually happened, in Brazil in 1942, and since then. . .

Read More >

Selected Stories
Selected Stories by Kjell Askildsen
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

To call Kjell Askildsen’s style sparse or terse would be to understate just how far he pushes his prose. Almost nothing is explained, elaborated on. In simple sentences, events occur, words are exchanged, narrators have brief thoughts. As often as. . .

Read More >

Letter from an Unknown Woman and Other Stories
Letter from an Unknown Woman and Other Stories by Stefan Zweig
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

After a mysterious woman confesses to an author simply known as “R” that she has loved him since she was a teenager, she offers the following explanation: “There is nothing on earth like the love of a child that passes. . .

Read More >