The NEA announced the recipients of this year’s translation fellowships yesterday, and, as always, there’s a number of interesting projects being supported. You can read about all of them here, and listed below are some of the ones that caught my eye:
Central Square, NY
To support the translation of experimental plays by German playwright Dea Loher. The writer and producer of 20 plays, Loher’s subject matter ranges from small-town life to international events as she explores themes of race, love, violence, and family. Though Loher is one of Germany’s most celebrated playwrights with plays translated into 27 languages, her work is virtually unknown in the United States.
To support the translation of Austrian writer Ilse Aichinger’s collection of short fiction, Bad Words. In these 22 prose pieces, normative reality is taken apart and reconstructed to create a language that uses only the “second best words,” as the title proclaims. Linguistically experimental and thematically absurd, Aichinger’s body of work has garnered more than 20 literary prizes and is vastly underrepresented in English. This translation will be the first to focus on her work from the 1960s.
Sylvia Lichun Lin
To support the translation from Chinese of The Lost Garden, a novel by Taiwanese author Li Ang. Exploring the interconnected themes of politics and gender, the novel chronicles a Taiwanese gentry family from the early days of the Nationalist government’s rule under Chiang Kai-shek to the present. Published in 1990, only three years after the lifting of martial law, The Lost Garden was the first novel to successfully portray a fictional account of the White Terror Era. Ang is considered one of the most prolific, daring, and innovative writers in the contemporary Chinese-language literary community.
To support a new translation from Urdu of Paigham Afaqui’s first novel, The House. Since its publication in 1989, Afaqui’s account of a young female landlord, Neera, and her predatory tenant, Kumar, has been a staple on reading lists in schools and universities across India. Literature in Urdu is particularly patriarchal, and Neera’s story draws a sharp contrast to that tradition and to the stereotypical roles placed on women in Indian society. In addition to writing and founding the Indian Academy of fiction, Afaqui is deputy commissioner of the Delhi Police.
To support the translation from Spanish of three works of contemporary fiction by Daniel Sada. Born in Mexico in 1953, Sada died in the fall of 2011 only hours after being awarded Mexico’s most prestigious literary honor, the National Prize for Arts and Sciences for Literature. His writing is infused with a passion for experimental storytelling, but the most pervasive theme in his work is language itself, specifically the viability and limitations of the Spanish language in contemporary Mexican culture.
To support the translation from Spanish of short fiction by contemporary Salvadoran author Claudia Hernández. These four short story collections, published from 2001-07, explore the brutal impact of El Salvador’s 12-year civil war and focus indirectly on the themes of displacement, desensitization, and fear. Garnering international praise, Hernández was the first Central American artist to win the Juan Rulfo Prize for short stories. In 2004, she was awarded the prestigious Anna Seghers prize, an annual award given to young authors in Germany and Latin America.
To support the translation of an anthology of short fiction by young Vietnamese writers, New Voices from Vietnam. All 19 authors included in this project are under the age of 35, and their work represents a culture and aesthetic that differs radically from previous generations of Vietnamese writers, reflecting stories from a vibrant culture racing through changes wrought by rapid modernization and globalization. There is a lack of contemporary Vietnamese prose represented in English, and this project offers an unprecedented collection.
Congrats to everyone!
The Urdu word basti refers to any space, intimate to worldly, and is often translated as “common place” or “a gathering place.” This book by Intizar Husain, who is widely regarded as one of the most important living Pakistani writers,. . .
The Whispering Muse, one of three books by Icelandic writer Sjón just published in North America, is nothing if not inventive. Stories within stories, shifting narration, leaps in time, and characters who transform from men to birds and back again—you’ve. . .
Luis Negrón’s debut collection Mundo Cruel is a journey through Puerto Rico’s gay world. Published in 2010, the book is already in its fifth Spanish edition. Here in the U.S., the collection has been published by Seven Stories Press and. . .
To have watched from one of your patios
the ancient stars
from the bank of shadow to have watched
the scattered lights
my ignorance has learned no names for
nor their places in constellations
to have heard the ring of. . .
When Icelandic author Andri Snær Magnason first published LoveStar, his darkly comic parable of corporate power and media influence run amok, the world was in a very different place. (This was back before both Facebook and Twitter, if you can. . .
When starting Hi, This Is Conchita and Other Stories, Santiago Roncagliolo’s second work to be translated into English, I was expecting Roncagliolo to explore the line between evil and religion that was front and center in Red April. Admittedly, I. . .
Christa Wolf’s newly-translated City of Angels is a novel of atonement, and in this way the work of art that it resembles most to me is not another book, but the 2003 Sophia Coppola film Lost in Translation. Like that. . .
French author—philosopher, poet, novelist—de Roblès writes something approaching the Great (Latin) American Novel, about Brazilian characters, one of whom is steeped in the life of the seventeenth century polymath (but almost always erroneous) Jesuit Athanasius Kircher. Eleazard von Wogau, a. . .
A rich, beautifully written, consistently surprising satire, Yan Lianke’s Lenin’s Kisses boasts an elaborate, engrossing plot with disarming twists and compelling characters both challenged and challenging. It leads the reader on a strange pilgrimage—often melancholy but certainly rewarding—through a China. . .
Maybe I’ve been watching too much Doctor Who lately, and I’m therefore liable to see everything through science-fiction-colored glasses. But when the pages of The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira refer to “the totality of the present and of eternity”. . .