A new month and a new Reading the World Podcast, this time with Suzanne Jill Levine, famed translator (of Three Trapped Tigers, of Heartbreak Tango, of dozens of other wonderful books) and author of the very influential The Subversive Scribe: Translating Latin American Fiction.
We recorded this back at MLA in December (in a bitterly cold Philadelphia—which seems WEIRD given the fact that it’s frickin’ 70+ degrees in CNY right now), where the focus was translation and Jill talked a lot about the then forthcoming Borges series that she had edited for Penguin Classics. (With the help of the very cool John Siciliano.)
Anyway, the first two volumes of the Borges series are now available: Poems of the Night and The Sonnets. And galleys for the last three books—On Mysticism, On Writing, and On Argentina—recently arrived in the mail. I’m planning on reviewing these three, starting with “Mysticism,” which has been on my mind a lot of late. (Aided by my recent PKD bender. And obsession with Lost)
We talk a bit about this special Borges series during the podcast, but for more info, check my post from this past December.
Double admission: I rarely, if ever, listen to anything I’m involved in, or read anything written about me. But I just listened to this, and holy shit, it’s even more incredible than I imagined possible. (And I don’t sound like a complete ass! Sweet!)
So, please, please listen, let me know what you think, and if you can, subscribe on iTunes and give us a review. (This link goes directly to the iTunes RTW Podcast page.) And pass this along to any and everyone you know. We really want to spread the word about these before starting the second (and third) rounds of taping . . .
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. . .