The recipients of this year’s PEN/Heim Translation Fund grants were just announced today, with thirteen projects (featuring fourteen translators) working from nine different languages (Spanish, German, Romanian, Chinese, French, Italian, Swedish, Russian, and Indonesian). Each project will receive $3,300 in prize money.
Congrats to everyone who won, and here are a few of the highlights (meaning people I’m friends with, or projects that sound most interesting to me):
Isabel Cole for her translation of At the Burning Abyss by Franz Fühmann, the great dissident patriarch of East German letters. This challenging, multifaceted, genre-bending book is Fühmann’s highly personal (auto)biographical response to the great Expressionist poet Georg Trakl. Cole’s translation captures the richness and depth of Fühmann’s complex magnum opus. (To be published by Seagull Publishing)
Sean Cotter for his translation of Mateiu Caragiale’s Rakes of the Old Court, a relentlessly funny, dark, flamboyant, twisted text that Cotter captures perfectly in this audacious and over-the-top translation. Written in the early 20th century, the text has a contemporary voice that is ahead of its time. (Available for publication)
Edward Gauvin for the translation of Jean Ferry’s The Conductor and Other Tales, the only collection of prose fiction written by Ferry, an illustrious screenwriter associated with a number of avant-garde movements, including the College of Metaphysics and Oulipo. Gauvin’s translation of his work is vivid and authoritative. (To be published by Wakefield Press)
Elizabeth Harris for Tristano Dies by Antonio Tabucchi. This rich and textured translation rises to the challenge of the complex, exuberant Italian text – its voice, musicality, layering, and depth – and allows the reader to follow all of its twists and turns. (To be published by Archipelago)
Eugene Ostashevsky and Daniel Mellis for their translation of Tango with Cows by Vasily Kamensky. Originally printed on wall-paper and decorated with cubo-futurist drawings by the Burliuk brothers, this collection introduced the “ferro-concrete” poem and other striking verbo-visual innovations. A perfect team for the task, Ostashevsky and Mellis are able to provide both the linguistic and visual expertise that this Russian futuristic text demands. (Available for publication)
Though far from the most convincing reason to read literature in translation, one common side effect is learning of another culture, of its history. Within that, and a stronger motivation to read, is the discovery of stories not possible within. . .
Despite cries that literature is dead, dying, and self-replicating in the worst way, once in a while a book comes along to remind readers that there’s still a lot of surprise to be found on the printed page. To be. . .
“I was small. And my village was small, I came to know that in time. But when I was small it was big for me, so big that when I had to cross it from one end to the other,. . .
A few weeks after moving into a farm house in the Welsh countryside, Emilie, an expatriate from the Netherlands, starts to think about her uncle. This uncle tried to drown himself in a pond in front of the hotel where. . .
Think back to the last adventure- or action-type book you read. Wasn’t it cool? Didn’t it make you want to do things, like learn to shoot a crossbow, hack complicated information systems, travel to strange worlds, take on knife-wielding thugs,. . .
In Aira’s Shantytown, while we’re inside the characters’ heads for a good portion of the story, the voice we read on the page is really that of Aira himself, as he works out the plot of the book he’s writing.. . .
Noir is not an easy genre to define—or if it once was, that was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away; as a quick guess, maybe Silver Lake, Los Angeles, 1935. When two books as different as. . .
Some time ago I read this phrase: “The page is the only place in the universe God left blank for me.”
Pedro Mairal’s short novel The Missing Year of Juan Salvatierra is more about these blank spaces than the usual full. . .
“What if even in the afterlife you have to know foreign languages? Since I have already suffered so much trying to speak Danish, make sure to assign me to the Polish zone . . .”
So reads a typical aphoristic “poem”. . .
If you somehow managed to overlook the 2012 translation of Andrés Neuman’s breathtaking Traveler of the Century (and woe betide all whom continue to do so), you now have two exceptional works of fiction from the young Argentine virtuoso demanding. . .