Steve Dolph’s translation of Juan Jose Saer’s massive La Grande won’t be available until next spring, but for those of you who can’t wait to sample what may well be his magnum opus, you can check out Two Lines for a long sample:
Tomatis continues: Mario Brando considered himself an experimentalist, but he was a barefaced bourgeoisie. According to Tomatis, he lived and thought like a bourgeoisie. He married the daughter of an ultra-Catholic conservative general, as opportunistic as himself, who changed his political position with every changing government or circumstance. Brando claimed he had combined poetry and science, but his values and his lifestyle were as traditional bourgeois as they come: he raised his daughters Catholic, and when they grew up he married them to navy officers. According to Tomatis, he never went to mass more than his social obligations demanded, but his wife and daughter attended the chic eleven o’clock mass every Sunday. His brother-in-law, according to Tomatis, was also in the military, and, like his father, gained the rank of general. Starting in the sixties, he’d often visited North American instructors in Panama, in Washington, at the School of the Americas. Because his entire career transpired in the shadow of General Negri, the celebrated torturer, he’d been given the nickname, even in certain military circles, of secondary anticommunist, in reference likewise to his subdued personality, a possible side effect of his alcoholism. And, Tomatis says, precisely because of all of this, he’d once been forced to ask Brando for a favor. Tomatis is quiet for a few seconds, remembering, reflecting maybe. Soldi’s, Violeta’s, and the others’ expressions have also turned solemn. Gabriela lowers her head, possibly so as not to have to look anyone in the eyes, or possibly in order to listen better to what she’s actually heard many times already, from Tomatis, from her parents, or old friends that Tomatis and her parents had in common: the story of the disappearance of El Gato Garay—Tomatis’s friend and Pichón’s twin brother—and Elisa, his lover for several years. She was more or less separated from her husband, who knew about the affair. And though she didn’t live with Gato all the time, she would spend her weekends with him, and sometimes, when she wasn’t busy with the children, whole weeks. El Gato spent practically all his time at the beach house in Rincón that had once been the Garay family’s weekend retreat. El Gato lived on almost nothing, odd jobs from friends mostly, enough for food, for drinks, and for tobacco. He left the town less and less frequently; it was extremely strange to see him in the city. When Elisa visited him, her black car would be parked for days without moving, gathering sandy dust. Every so often they’d walk through the town on their way to the grocery or to the butcher shop, otherwise they were always in the white house, which was starting to fall apart, or in the rear courtyard, which could have been cleaned more regularly. They were an unusual couple, polite but not very demonstrative, and at that time being even slightly different from the people around you who put you in danger for your life. (Someone once joked that they were kidnapped because they didn’t have a television.)
The 2013 Susan Sontag Prize for Translation was just announced, with Nathaniel Rudavsky-Brody receiving this year’s honors for his translation of Benjamin Fondane’s Ulysse.
Not much info up on the Sontag site yet, although I think this literally just went online. (I’ve been refreshing that page like a crack addict in hopes the U of R student and Volodine translator J.T. Mahany would win . . . )
Anyway, the Center for the Art of Translation/Two Lines has a bit of Ulysse available on their website:
The world opens within us at the view of ships
departing—they depart with their hair in the wind
returning—they return old and decrepit
in the dance of lights,
in the farewell revels of ports
seated while everyone dances.
And here’s a bit of info about the author and translator:
Benjamin Fondane (1893-1944) published poems, translations and criticism in his native Romania before moving to Paris in 1923. After devoting seven years to perfecting his French, he resumed his literary activity in that language. His works include the long poems Ulysses (1933), Titanic (1937), and Exodus, and The Sorrows of Ghosts (both posthumous), as well as works of criticism on Baudelaire, Rimbaud and his mentor, the philosopher Lev Chestov.
Nathaniel Rudavsky-Brody lives in Brussels, where he works as a programmer in digital publishing. He studied math in Chicago and medieval literature in Poitiers and Paris. He has published translations of Benjamin Fondane and an article on the philosophy of sailing.
Congrats to Nathaniel and everyone who entered.
The new issue of Two Lines, entitled “Passageways,” has just been released. All in all, it’s a pretty awesome anthology, and includes great pieces by authors like Quim Monzó and Naja Marie Aidt. There’s also a poem by Shez that is particularly touching.
You can buy it here !
On Wednesday, November 9th at 7:30pm, Two Lines is collaborating with The Bridge reading series to put on a special event at McNally Jackson (52 Prince St.) in celebration of the new issue, Counterfeits. “Counterfeits” editor Luc Sante will host the event, and will be joined by translators Aaron Kerner, Patrick Philips, Alex Zucker, Alyson Waters, and author Magdaléna Platzováfor.
In preparation for this event, Two Lines just posted an interview with Alyson Waters about Albert Cossery and her translation of The Colors of Infamy, which is coming out next month from New Directions.
Scott Esposito: We’re here to talk about your excerpt from The Colors of Infamy, which comes from the third novel by Egyptian-French writer Albert Cossery to be published in the past couple of years. Cossery, who died in 2008 and did most of his writing decades ago, has become something of a sensation lately, with these new translations getting rave attention in a lot of leading periodicals. Why do you think Cossery has caught on so much?
Alyson Waters: I wish I could say that he’s moved into best-sellerdom, but that would be overstating the case a bit! I think that Cossery’s a great writer, and maybe it’s taken some time for people to realize that here—an Egyptian author who writes in French translated into English is not everyone’s first choice as a “go-to” book. We’re fortunate to have wonderful publishers like New Directions and New York Review Books who took a chance on publishing these translations in the last few years, although some of his work was translated into English decades ago, but it’s all gone out of print. I started translating The Colors of Infamy for the pleasure of it some seven or eight years ago, but it wasn’t until I won a PEN Translation Grant for the book that publishers sat up and took notice. I was lucky that Barbara Epler of New Directions wanted me to translate A Splendid Conspiracy as well. And now, in addition to The Jokers, brought out last year in Anna Moschovakis’ translation, New York Review Books is bringing out a revised version of a translation by Thomas Cushing of Proud Beggars that was originally done in 1981. It would be nice to think that all this interest has to do with the Arab Spring, and that may be true right now as far as new readers are concerned, and I hope interest continues to grow. But those of us who have been pushing for Cossery to have a bigger presence in the English-speaking world have been doing so for about a decade, some even longer. He’s got a wicked sense of humor, a very appealing anti-work/anti-capitalist/anti-materialist philosophy that goes with our current recession mood, I think, and a rather cynical—though some might say accurate—view of the benefits of any revolution for the poorest of the poor—all of which can be seen quite clearly in The Colors of Infamy.
Click here to read the full interview, and be sure to order a copy of the new issue while you’re there.
For this week’s podcast, Tom and I answered our first mailbag question about literary journals, discussed the old adage that “short stories don’t sell,” and complained about the unbeatable Milwaukee Brewers.Read More...
“Counterfeits,” the new issue of Two Lines, just came out from The Center for the Art of Translation, and looks pretty amazing. As it should, considering that it was guest edited by Luc Sante and Rosanna Warren . . .
This latest volume leads with a special section of innovative, international noir literature from Slovakia, Egypt, Chile, Russia, and more—including a new translation from Steven T. Murray,1 the award-winning translator of Steig Larsson. Featuring a special introductory essay by Luc Sante, as well as introductions by each of the translators, the Focus on Noir Literature delivers a robust exploration of new noir worldwide.
This anthology is further highlighted by poetry editor Rosanna Warren’s selections from Mongolia, Catalan, and Bulgarian, among many others. Printing bilingually throughout, “Counterfeits” features fifteen different languages and includes stunning work from Russian absurdist Sigizmund Krhizhanovsky (his “prose has a recklessly unstable tone . . . [that makes] a delighted examination of impossible worlds,” writes Adam Thirlwell) and mordant Frenchman Albert Cossery—who counted Henry Miller as a fan.
In addition to Krhizhanovsky (BTBA finalist) and Cossery (ditto), this issue also features work from Cesar Aira, Venus Khoury-Ghata, Primo Levi, Goncalo Tavares, Ngo Tu Lap, Henrik Nordbrandt, and many others. In terms of translators, there are pieces translated by Alyson Waters, Lisa Hayden Espenschade, Rhett McNeil, Andrew Oakland, Meena Desai, Chris Andrews, Martha Collins, Alex Zucker, Marilyn Hacker, Andel Rodel, and many more.
Definitely worth checking out . . . Unfortunately, the Two Lines site doesn’t have info on ordering this yet, but will in the near future, I’m sure.
1 AKA Reg Keeland.
The eighteenth annual installment of Two Lines will be edited by Luc Sante and Rosanna Warren, and we’re looking for the best of the best new translations in any genre (poetry, fiction, drama, essay, non-conformist).
In addition to nearly two hundred pages of poetry and fiction from around the world we will also be running a special section of international noir literature. When we say noir, however, we’re not merely looking for the next Stieg Larsson, we’re looking for work that walks the edges of the genre, that attempts something greater or other within (or around) the traditional model. We want poetry that incorporates thematic music, excerpts from graphic novel whodunits of a political slant, or anything you feel might interestingly play with the tropes of noir.
Previously unpublished work only.
Deadline to submit your work is December 1, 2010. No late submissions accepted!
All other details (length, mailing address) can be found at the link above.
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.
The Center for the Art of Translation recently redesigned its website, which provides a perfect opportunity to reiterate just how awesome CAT is. Lots of amazing stuff on here, including a killer list of upcoming events, an interview with Susan Bernofsky about translating Robert Walser, and information about Two Lines.
So if you haven’t been to the CAT site—or haven’t been in a while—I highly recommend checking it out . . . Especially since the new layout is really pretty . . .
Although the official pub date isn’t until November 9th, a copy of the sixteenth volume of Two Lines arrived in the mail yesterday. It’s edited by Margaret Jull Costa and Marilyn Hacker, and contains a number of excerpts from interesting translations coming out this year, including the new translation of Gunter Grass’s The Tin Drum, Yoko Tawada’s The Naked Eye, Inger Christensen’s Azorno, Jose Manuel Prieto’s Rex, and Tarek Eltayeb’s Cities Without Palms.
In addition, there’s a special focus on Paletinian Poetry, which was edited by Marilyn Hacker, and for which she wrote an interesting introduction that starts with a discussion of Mahmoud Darwish’s “Rita’s Winter” as setting out
one of the paradigms of contemporary Palestinian poetry: a history larger than that of any individual expressed through narratives of the quotidian and the deceptively personal. This stands alongside, and arises in part from the inescapable fact of exile (and the presence of a not at all imaginary occupying Other) as one of the principal components of contemporary Palestinian writing, a paradoxical but undeniable source of its inspiration. But this energy is not insular; it’s also an integral part of the ongoing renaissance of poetry in Arabic (the creation of an Arabic modernism) that began int he circle around the journal Ch’ir (Poetry) founded in Lebanon int he 1960s by a circle of poets including the Syrian Adonis, a movement that, as the Moroccan poet-critic Abellatif La’abi claims, enlarged poets’ angle of vision while revising and recasting their poetical “arsenal.” The tropes and cadences of classical Arabic poetry were met, confronted by European ideas of ruptured and new forms, while “new” ways of thinking about aesthetics were reconnected with classical, spiritual, and philosophical sources.
Definitely worth checking out, and you can preorder your copy by clicking here.
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 . . .
Over at Entre Los Espacios, Rose Mary Salum is continuing her line-up of bad-ass interviews. Last month she talked with a slew of editors at translation literary journals (such as Absinthe and Calque), and today she has a nice interview with Annie Janusch from Two Lines.
And tying in to the previous post about editing translations:
What would seem to be the essential editorial challenge when working with translations?
Since translation editors aren’t in a position to, say, recommend revising a particular passage so that it moves the narrative along differently, the editorial focus is on honing and crafting the language, maintaining consistency in voice, style, or intangibles like “spirit.” When I read a draft of a translation of a story, I read it as closely as I would a poem, pausing over every word and weighing every choice. This can lead to endless questioning.
While I was out of the office last week, the new issue of Two Lines arrived. This is the fifteenth volume of Two Lines, which is really impressive, and as always, the production quality and contents are both excellent.
The “theme” of this particular issue is “Strange Harbors,” which can be interpreted (like all of the Two Lines themes) in a number of ways. Pulitzer-nominated playwright and novelist John Biguenet and poet and Turkish translator Sidney Wade co-edited this volume, and, in my opinion, did a fantastic job in including established writers and translators and a host of new voices.
Some of the highlights include:
Basically, I could just copy over the entire Table of Contents . . . In addition to all the great fiction and poetry included in each issue of Two Lines, I really enjoy this journal because it gives me a chance to find out about new translators, and to see what people are working on these days. And the trim size (approx. 5.5” tall by 8” wide) is strangely intriguing and appealing. Anyway, you can order copies online or find them at better bookstores everywhere.
And in terms of future issues, volume 16 will be edited by Margaret Jull Costa and Marilyn Hacker (wow!) and information about submitting is available online. The deadline is October 31st.
Two Lines is one of the most interesting journals of translated literature out there—just check out this recent TOC if you don’t believe me—and a real cornerstone of the ever-impressive Center for the Art of Translation.
Anyway, Two Lines just put out a call for submissions for the 15th anniversary edition, which will be edited by Pulitzer-nominated playwright, novelist, and translator John Biguenet (prose) and acclaimed poet and translator Sidney Wade (poetry).
The deadline is October 22, and all the necessary information is avaiable here.
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. . .