15 July 13 | Chad W. Post | Comments

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
like invalids
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.

15 August 12 | Chad W. Post | Comments

From The Guardian:

James Joyce’s Ulysses has topped poll after poll to be named the greatest novel of the 20th century, but according to Paulo Coelho, the book is “a twit”. [. . .]

Writers go wrong, according to Coelho, when they focus on form, not content. “Today writers want to impress other writers,” he told the paper. “One of the books that caused great harm was James Joyce’s Ulysses, which is pure style. There is nothing there. Stripped down, Ulysses is a twit.”

Here are just a few of the things that are wrong with these statements:

1) I’m willing to go out on a limb here and claim that Ulysses has had, oh, approximately 0% impact on the writing of the vast majority of today’s popular/influential English writers—J-Franz, Richard Ford, 90% of MFA graduates, most all Oprah book club authors, etc. etc.

2) Can a book even be a “twit”? That’s confusing. The other day I was on a rant that NBC should get crabs, but even I realized the absurdity of that statement. Hey, Paulo—Ulysses is a book. It is fiction. It is not a living breathing thing.

3) And “twit”??? Who even says that?

4) THIS sort of “I APPEAL TO EVERYONE” crap is what I think is ruining contemporary literature.

Speaking to Brazilian newspaper Folha de S Paulo, Coelho said the reason for his own popularity was that he is “a modern writer, despite what the critics say”. This doesn’t mean his books are experimental, he added – rather, “I’m modern because I make the difficult seem easy, and so I can communicate with the whole world.”

Nothing like a bit of stupid to get me back into the swing of this blogging thing . . . .

....
Kingdom Cons
Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera
Reviewed by Sarah Booker

Yuri Herrera is overwhelming in the way that he sucks readers into his worlds, transporting them to a borderland that is at once mythical in its construction and powerfully recognizable as a reflection of its modern-day counterpart. Kingdom Cons, originally. . .

Read More >

The Invented Part
The Invented Part by Rodrigo Fresán
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

Imagine reading a work that suddenly and very accurately calls out you, the reader, for not providing your full attention to the act of reading. Imagine how embarrassing it is when you, the reader, believe that you are engrossed in. . .

Read More >

A Simple Story: The Last Malambo
A Simple Story: The Last Malambo by Leila Guerriero
Reviewed by Emilee Brecht

Leila Guerriero’s A Simple Story: The Last Malambo chronicles the unique ferocity of a national dance competition in Argentina. The dance, called the malambo, pushes the physical and mental limits of male competitors striving to become champions of not only. . .

Read More >

The Little Buddhist Monk & The Proof
The Little Buddhist Monk & The Proof by Cesar Aira
Reviewed by Will Eells

Aira continues to surprise and delight in his latest release from New Directions, which collects two novellas: the first, The Little Buddhist Monk, a fairly recent work from 2005, and The Proof, an earlier work from 1989. There are a. . .

Read More >

Agnes
Agnes by Peter Stamm
Reviewed by Dorian Stuber

The narrator of Peter Stamm’s first novel, Agnes, originally published in 1998 and now available in the U.S. in an able translation by Michael Hofmann, is a young Swiss writer who has come to Chicago to research a book on. . .

Read More >

Class
Class by Francesco Pacifico
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

The thing about Class is that I don’t know what the hell to think about it, yet I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ll begin by dispensing with the usual info that one may want to know when considering adding. . .

Read More >

The Dispossessed
The Dispossessed by Szilárd Borbély
Reviewed by Jason Newport

To be, or not to be?

Hamlet’s enduring question is one that Szilárd Borbély, acclaimed Hungarian poet, verse-playwright, librettist, essayist, literary critic, short-story writer, and, finally, novelist, answered sadly in the negative, through his suicide in 2014, at the. . .

Read More >