I’ve been reading the Three Percent blog for over a year now, and now here I am, sitting in Chad’s office, writing a blog post for Three Percent to introduce myself to the Three Percent Army – the cult of translated literature, the gang of literary ruffians who make up the core audience of Three Percent, Open Letter, and all literary endeavors worldwide. Today is my third day as an Open Letter summer intern (or, as my BEA badge would have me called, an “assistant editor”!), and I’ll be posting some items on the Three Percent blog all summer, so this is an introduction into the mouth of madness that you shall all enter at various points throughout the summer.
I graduated from Duke University a few weeks ago with a MA in Russian Culture – literature, media, politics, history, you name it, I study and love it – and became aware of Three Percent (and Open Letter, and independent, nonprofit, and translation-friendly presses) and the universe of how translated literature functions in the world around the time I started my MA program in fall 2010. I spent three months last summer in St. Petersburg and Moscow, where I took some classes and translated the Russian journalist Oleg Kashin’s first novel, Fardwor, Ruissa! A Fantastical Tale from Putin’s Russia (Roissya Vperde: Fantasticheskaya Povest’). In the process of translating, I was drawn into the world of translators and publishers who make the magic happen – getting translated books into the hands of readers like myself. That’s when I came across Three Percent, and became a regular reader, which led me to buy the Three Percent e-book, in which I took note of how Chad declared a need for more publishers of translated literature and more recognition given to the translators and the publishers.
Around the same time, my wife accepted a summer association position at a law firm in Dallas, and I began brainstorming things to do in Dallas for the rest of my life with a Russian degree, and BOOM, the idea was born that I would start a publishing company in Dallas (which is, nicely enough, home to the American Literary Translators Association!). All I needed was some experience in the business, and after a quick email to Chad asking for some professional advice and expertise, I’m in Rochester, reading Mikhail Shishkin’s Maidenhair in preparation for all of his BEA appearances (plus his event w/ Marian Schwartz & Chad at McNally Jackson!) and copy-editing the new Quim Monzó . . . learning the ropes, and enjoying the hell out of it.
I’m new to this business, but I love it. I will be at BEA next week, and would love to meet with anybody and everybody. Hopefully I can compare literary tattoos with Tom Roberge and mustaches with Dmitry Bykov and brainstorm ideas about my future publishing company with those-in-the-know. See y’all in NYC at BEA.
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. . .