This year’s ALTA kicks off officially on Wednesday night with the special opening event celebrating Open Letter’s poetry series—in particular Eduardo Chirinos’s Smoke of Distant Fires, translated by Gary Racz, and Juan Gelman’s Dark Times Filled with Light, translated by Hardie St. Martin—but the real meat of the conference gets going at 9:15 Thursday morning . . . Here are a few of the highlights from those first couple sessions (remember, you can download the entire schedule here):
Thursday, October 4th
9:15 – 10:45
It’s No Pun Anymore: The Loss of Wit & Other Cultural Misunderstandings in Persian Verse Translation
Despite a rich 2,000-year literary tradition, linguistic as well as cultural elements integral to Persian poetry continue to get slighted in English renderings. This panel surveys both the classical and modern tradition of Iranian verse, foregrounding key problems that considerably limit the appreciation of style and theme in translation.
Roger Sedarat: Moderator
Mojdeh Marashi: “Saffron Paper: Rosewater Ink”
Kaveh Bassiri: “The Text Is in the Context”
Sara Khalili: “On Navigating Cultural Misunderstandings in Persian Literature”
Translating Murakami in Europe
This panel gathers three European translators of Haruki Murakami to discuss his translation into languages other than English. Focusing upon Murakami’s latest novel, 1Q84, panelists raise such problems as shifting tense, visual wordplay, and strategies for handling the English expressions and American references that appear natural in the English translation, but which stand out in other European languages, as they do in Japanese.
Mette Holm: “In Search of Lost Time in Murakami: Movement Between Past and Present”
Ika Kaminka: “Style and the Translator: Re-Exporting English Idioms out of Japanese”
Anna Zielinska-Elliott: “Visual Presence and Subjective Absence: Conjuring Japanese in European Languages”
11:00 – 12:15
Linguistics & the Culture of Humor
What makes an original text humorous and what should a translator understand about language, culture, and linguistics—both in regard to the source and target languages—to make this humor translatable? This panel also considers challenges translators may encounter.
Kaija Straumanis: “On the German Translation of George Saunders’s Pastoralia”
& Helen Anderson: “The Elephant, the Hellephant, and the Quest for Dynamic Equivalence”
Matt Rowe: “Turning The Alienist up to 11”
Emily Davis: “Hypervelocity Cloudlets: Linguistic Precision and the Importance of
Register in Damián Tabarovsky’s Medical Autobiography”
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. . .
It’s a rare and wonderful book that begins and ends with violence and humor. At the start of Etgar Keret’s The Seven Good Years, Keret is in a hospital waiting for the birth of his first child while nurses, in. . .
Last year, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian was an unexpected critical hit. Now, it’s just been published in the U.S. and has already received a great deal of positive critical attention. The Vegetarian was a bold book to attempt as an. . .
It’s been almost a year since the publication of Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah, but despite being included on the 2015 PEN Translation award longlist, and some pretty vocal support from key indie presses, the book has. . .
Jorge Eduardo Benavides’ novel La paz de los vencidos (The Peace of the Defeated) takes the form of a diary written by a nameless Peruvian thirty-something intellectual slumming it in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands. Recently relocated. . .
Anyone with any interest at all in contemporary Moroccan writing must start with Souffles. A cultural and political journal, Souffles (the French word for “breaths”) was founded in 1966 by Abdellatif Laâbi and Mostafa Nissabouri. Run by a group of. . .
Randall Jarrell once argued a point that I will now paraphrase and, in doing so, over-simplify: As a culture, we need book criticism, not book reviews. I sort of agree, but let’s not get into all of that. Having finished. . .