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.
César Aira dishes up an imaginative parable on how identity shapes our sense of belonging with Dinner, his latest release in English. Aira’s narrator (who, appropriately, remains nameless) is a self-pitying, bitter man—in his late fifties, living again with. . .
Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .
Even though the latest from Jean Echenoz is only a thin volume containing seven of what he calls “little literary objects,” it is packed with surprises. In these pieces, things happen below the surface, sometimes both literally and figuratively. As. . .
Who is this woman? This is the question that opens Xiao Bai’s French Concession, a novel of colonial-era Shanghai’s spies and revolutionaries, police and smugglers, who scoot between doorways, walk nonchalantly down avenues, smoke cigars in police bureaus, and lounge. . .
For the past 140 years, Anna Karenina has been loved by millions of readers all over the world. It’s easy to see why: the novel’s two main plots revolve around characters who are just trying to find happiness through love.. . .
Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .
Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .
In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .
There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .