As mentioned a couple months back, this year’s Wolff Symposium will be taking place today and tomorrow at the Goethe Institut in Chicago.
It all kicks off tonight with the reception honoring Ross Benjamin for winning this year’s Wolff Prize for his translation of Speak, Nabokov by Michael Marr. (Which I still want to read. . . .)
Then tomorrow there’s a day of panels, including a reading from Breon Mitchell’s new translation of Gunter Grass’s The Tin Drum, a conversation on the “Wolff Prize and the Art of Literary Translation” featuring Susan Bernofsky, Krishna Winston, Drenka Willen, Ross Benjamin, and Breon Mitchell (and my translation-loving nerd heart just exploded . . . I mean, holy shit! this is the very definition of a star-studded panel . . . in translation circles, ‘natch), a conversation on “An Increased Interest in Foreign Literatre?” (with Dan Slager of Milkweed, Jeremy Davies of Dalkey, and Dennis Johnson of Melville House—and again, nice, nice, nice), one on “Cultivating Audiences: Particular Examples, Viable Models?” (with Susan B. again, along with Susan Harris of Words Without Borders and German translator Annie Janusch), and finally one on “Publishing Literary Translations and New Publishing Technologies” (which brings back DLJ, along with Henry Carrigan of Northwestern University Press, and Jeff Waxman from Seminary Co-op).
This should be brilliant. And I’ll do my best to recap as soon as possible. Probably when I get back . . . but hey, maybe I could tweet these?
Anyway, it should be excellent . . .
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. . .