The other week, we mentioned the Words Without Borders gala celebrating their first ten years of existence.
Well, to celebrate their first 10 years, WWB has released a special anthology that’s definitely worth buying—not only because it’s loaded with great writing, but also because sales of this volume go to support one of the best nonprofit publishing organizations in the country.
This volume celebrates WWB’s tenth anniversary with fiction, poetry, and essays from our first decade, translated from Dari, Rajasthani, Tigrinya, Urdu, and Yoruba, among others. The collection embraces many moods: antic tales of love triangles, deceptively sweet old ladies turned homicidal, somber accounts of bloody wars and political conflicts, and sly subversion of pompous clergy and other authorities.
There are tales of fantasy from Poland, Canada, and France, and grittier pieces from the many contributors—Iraq’s Najem Wali, Iran’s Kader Abdollah, El Salvador’s Horacio Castellanos Moya, Morocco’s Abdellah Taïa—who have had to flee their birthplaces and write from exile.
The selection of poetry varies from rhapsodic to whimsical: Slovenian lyricism; Polish and Catalan self-portraiture; Argentine and Japanese revelations. And we include two fine essays that provide a road map for full appreciation of both international writing and the translator’s role.
Contributors include Kader Abdolah, Adolfo Albertazzi, Justyna Bargielska, Lúcia Bettencourt, Carmen Boullosa, Horacio Castillo, Ismat Chughtai, Vijay Dan Detha, André Pieyre de Mandiargues, Louis de Paor, Nicholas Dickner, Ernest Farrés, Gabriella Ghermandi, Marek Huberath, Akinwumi Isola, Etik Juwita, Ilya Kaminsky, Rivka Keren, Nomura Kiwao, Fatos Lubonja, Leila Marouane, Mohammad Hussain Mohammadi, Horacio Castellanos Moya, Ambar Past, Tomaž Šalamun, Teresa Solana, Andrés Felipe Solano, Abdellah Taïa, Goli Taraghi, Jyrki Vainonen, Lawrence Venuti, Najem Wali, Ghirmai Yohannes, Yu Hua, Motoya Yukiko, and Zheng Xiaolu.
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. . .