Another day, another post that should’ve been written weeks ago . . . (In case you haven’t noticed, today is themed. And this extends beyond the blog to responding to dozens of e-mails I should’ve responded to way back when.)
Last month, the Susan Sontag Foundation announced that Benjamin Mier-Cruz won the 2010 award for his proposed translation of Modernist Missives of Elmer Diktonius, a collection of letters and poetry from the Finnish-Swedish avant-garde writer. Here’s the bio cribbed from the Susan Sontag site:
The letters originate during the Finnish Civil War in 1918, when Diktonius was just 22 years old, and conclude with his final correspondences in 1951. The exchanges reveal the private conflicts and travels of a vanguardist of literary expressionism. In the true spirit of modernism, Diktonius sought a new literature that reconciled antiquated art forms with the psyche of a changing Europe; one that represented and provoked revolt against political and economic establishments. [. . .]
Born in Helsinki in 1896, Diktonius, also a composer and fluent in Finnish, fervently sought to abandon the rigid structures of traditional rhythm in verse. He promoted literary expressionism in Finland by giving voice to man’s internal consciousness and social unrest as it came into modernity and confronted new technology. Diktonius’ poetry demonstrates his visionary aspirations for literature, the working-class, and the fate of his native Finland. His swaying political views can be seen throughout his writing, which ended in 1951. Diktonius died in 1961.
(For more info on Diktonius, I recommend checking out this page at the insanely complete “Books and Writers” site.)
And re: the translator:
Benjamin Mier-Cruz is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Scandinavian Languages and Literatures at UC Berkeley. He received his B.A. in German Language and Literature from Arizona State University and completed his M.A. at UC Berkeley.
In case you’re not award of this award, it was launched a few years back as a way of encouraging translators under the age of 30 to continue in the profession. It’s a brilliant award and comes with a $5,000 cash prize. Past winners can be found here.
This year’s honorable mention went to Salka Gudmundsdottir for her proposed translation of Icelandic author Steinar Bragi’s Rafflesíublómiò (or “The Rafflesia Flower”). Having met Steinar and read some short excerpts of his work, I’m really interested in finding out more about this project . . .
The article I wrote for Publishing Perspectives about the Iceland Literary Festival (along with a video interview with Kristjan B. Jonasson, the head of the Icelandic Publishers Association) will go live tomorrow morning, but in the meantime, I thought I’d put together a short write-up of some of the interesting contemporary Icelandic writers I met at the festival last week. This is obviously an incomplete list, but if you’re at all interested in finding out about Icelandic literature, it will hopefully serve as a good starting point:
More information about these and other Icelandic authors can be found at the Icelandic Literature Fund website (Agla at bok at bok.is is the person to contact for sample translations, etc.) and the Fabulous Iceland site that was set up to promote Iceland culture in advance of their being Guest of Honor at the 2011 Frankfurt Book Fair.
There’s little to say about a series of prose poems that willfully refuse to identify pronoun antecedents. Or perhaps there are a million things. The poems in _Morse, My Deaf Friend_— the chapbook by Miloš Djurdjević published by Ugly Duckling. . .
The Crimson Thread of Abandon is the first collection of short fiction available in English by the prolific Japanese writer and all-around avant-garde trickster Terayama Shūji, who died in 1983 at the age of 47. This collection would be important. . .
Last year, NYRB Classics introduced English-language readers to Catalan writer Josep Pla with Peter Bush’s translation of The Gray Notebook. In that book, Pla wrote about life in Spain during an influenza outbreak soon after World War I, when. . .
“Your bile is stagnant, you see sorrow in everything, you are drenched in melancholy,” my friend the doctor said.
bq. “Isn’t melancholy something from previous centuries? Isn’t some vaccine against it yet, hasn’t medicine taken care of it yet?” I. . .
What to make of Vano and Niko, the English translation of Erlom Akhvlediani’s work of the same name, as well as the two other short books that comprise a sort of trilogy? Quick searches will inform the curious reader that. . .
The opening of Jón Gnarr’s novel/memoir The Indian is a playful bit of extravagant ego, telling the traditional story of creation, where the “Let there be light!” moment is also the moment of his birth on January 2nd, 1967. Then. . .
Mahasweta Devi is not only one of the most prolific Bengali authors, but she’s also an important activist. In fact, for Devi, the two seem to go together. As you can probably tell from the titles, she writes about women. . .