It’s always fun to talk with Bill—he knows more about international literature than almost everyone I know—and I think the conversation went pretty well.
Aside from this podcast though, I can’t recommend the World Books site enough. PRI’s The World—which is produced by PRI, the BBC, and WGBH in Boston—is one of my favorite public radio programs (one of the few, to be honest), and this site is quickly becoming one of the best world literature sites out there. A mix of interviews (with authors and translators), reviews, features, and podcasts, there’s always interesting new content on the World Books page (such as this interesting piece on Jordanian censorship).
I’ve linked to content from World Books a few times, and I hope this site will continue to grow and expand over the coming months and years.
In addition to this podcast with Bill Marx, I also had the honor of speaking with host Lisa Mullins about Reading the World for a short segment that will be broadcast later this week. It’s hard to judge these things, but I’m not sure I was quite on my game during this conversation, although I’m really glad that I recommended Nazi Literature in the Americas and suggested that kids read War and Peace and Don Quixote . . . Thanks to Harry Potter, modern kids are into monstrously long epics, right?
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. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .
It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .
As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .