My name is Sarah Young, but Chad calls me Sarah Two because I was the second intern named Sarah to start at Open Letter this summer. I know my nickname is not as cool as “Quantum Sarah” or “Paranoid Sarah” (whose name is actually Rachel), but I’m just grateful my parents didn’t give me a weird, hyphenated last name and I don’t live in fear of being taken to a concentration camp in the Midwest. Later today, Alek will be posting my review of Second Person Singular, a new novel by Sayed Kashua chronicling the lives of two Arab Israelis working in Jerusalem. Also, Quantum Sarah and I wrote a joint review of Alessandro Barricco’s Emmaus, which should be up soon.
I’m an English/Creative Writing major at University of Rochester, minoring in Spanish and Biology. People often think the Bio minor is random, but it makes sense in my head. For instance, Wallace Stevens? Great companion reading to cell biology. Anyway, I ended up at Open Letter after taking a course in translation studies last fall. I initially enrolled in it because just about every visiting author I met in my fiction workshop agreed that translating is one of the best ways to improve your own writing. Now, I think translation is my favorite way to study language.
When I’m not writing reviews, making spreadsheets, or mailing large quantities of books for Chad, I like to read, bike, cook, and knit. During the academic year, I work as an undergraduate peer writing tutor for our campus’s College Writing Program and write plays for a student run theatre company, The Opposite of People. Last summer, I submitted a one-act to the Samuel French Off Off Broadway play festival, and by some miracle they accepted it. Phillip Witte (an intern from the days of yore) directed it, and Kelsey Burritt (one of last summer’s interns) acted in it, making the production an Open Letter intern lovechild. I’m thrilled to have been given the opportunity to work with such a unique publishing house, and I look forward to a summer full of good books and good company.
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. . .