The shortlist for the Rossica Translation Prize was announced today and features five works translated from Russian into English: The Cathedral Clergy: A Chronicle by Nikolay Leskov, translated by Margaret Winchell; Petersburg by Andrei Bely, translated by John Elsworth; The Road by Vasily Grossman, translated by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler with Olga Mukovnikova; The Village by Ivan Bunin, translated by Galya and Hugh Aplin; and The Golden Calf by Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov, translated by Konstantin Gurevich and Helen Anderson.
I’d like to take a moment to publicly congratulated Helen and Konstantin on this nomination. It was a wild set of coincidences that set this project in motion, and it’s been amazing working with the two of them on all facets of the publication of this book—the conception of the project, the translation itself, and the promotion of the book post-publication. And although I know all five books are great, I really really really want The Golden Calf to win. It would be great for the book—which is absolutely 120% brilliant—and for Open Letter, but especially cool for Helen and Konstantin, considering that this is their first book-length translation to be published. Based on the time and attention given over to this translation, they absolutely deserve to start out on top . . .
And not to draw attention away from their accomplishment in and of its own right (which is a prefatory statement to stealing attention away from their accomplishment in and of its own right), but it’s very gratifying that their translation beat out the other new translation of The Little Golden Calf. Some of you might remember the little controversy surrounding the near simultaneous publication of these two new translations.
I don’t want to get into the whole thing again—basically, the rights holder sold the rights to this book to two separate publishers, and the other one tried to diss ours for all sorts of totally absurd reasons—but since this is one of the few truly funny things I’ve ever written, and since this nomination feels so satisfying, I just had to at least reference it.
Anyway, read The Golden Calf. It may well be the funniest book I’ve ever published.
Pedro Zarraluki’s The History of Silence (trans. Nick Caistor and Lorenza García) begins with the narrator and his wife, Irene, setting out to write a book about silence, itself called The History of Silence: “This is the story of how. . .
There are plenty of reasons you can fail to find the rhythm of a book. Sometimes it’s a matter of discarding initial assumptions or impressions, sometimes of resetting oneself. Zigmunds Skujiņš’s Flesh-Coloured Dominoes was a defining experience in the necessity. . .
In a culture that privileges prose, reviewing poetry is fairly pointless. And I’ve long since stopped caring about what the world reads and dropped the crusade to get Americans to read more poems. Part of the fault, as I’ve suggested. . .
I would like to pose the argument that it is rare for one to ever come across a truly passive protagonist in a novel. The protagonist (perhaps) of Three Light-Years, Claudio Viberti, is just that—a shy internist who lives in. . .
The last five days of the eleventh-century Icelandic politician, writer of sagas, and famous murder victim Snorri Sturleleson (the Norwegian spelling, Snorre, is preserved in the book) make up Thorvald Steen’s most recently translated historical fiction, The Little Horse. Murdered. . .
We all know Paris, or at least we think we know it. The Eiffel Tower. The Latin Quarter. The Champs-Élysées. The touristy stuff. In Dominique Fabre’s novel, Guys Like Me, we’re shown a different side of Paris: a gray, decaying. . .
One hundred pages into Birth of a Bridge, the prize-winning novel from French writer Maylis de Kerangal, the narrator describes how starting in November, birds come to nest in the wetlands of the fictional city of Coca, California, for three. . .
At 30, the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli is already gathering her rosebuds. Faces in the Crowd, her poised debut novel, was published by Coffee House Press, along with her Brodsky-infused essay collection, Sidewalks. The essays stand as a theoretical map. . .
Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (narrated by Julio Cortázar) is, not disappointingly, as wild a book as its title suggests. It is a half-novella half-graphic novel story about . . . what, exactly? A European tribunal, Latin. . .
Marie NDiaye has created a tiny, psychological masterpiece with her Self-Portrait in Green. In it she explores how our private fears and insecurities can distort what we believe to be real and can cause us to sabotage our intimate relationships.. . .