By Homer
Translated by Emily Wilson
Reviewed by Peter Constantine
16 April 18

Now goddess, child of Zeus,
tell the old story for our modern times.

–(The Odyssey, Book I, line 10. Emily Wilson)

In literary translation of works from other eras, there are always two basic tasks that a translator needs to achieve: translating from the writer’s language into a target language, the language of the reader, and also translating from the writer’s era and culture to the era and culture of the contemporary reader. In her newest translation of Homer’s The Odyssey, Emily Wilson has turned the Greek dactylic hexameter into iambic pentameter, a remarkable feat and a well-considered strategy. Her choice of iambic pentameter as the basis for a twenty-first-century translation gives us a traditional meter familiar to us from narrative verse. Matthew Arnold famously pointed to four characteristics that are vital to a good translation of Homer: plainness,. . .

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By Marosa di Giorgio
Translated by Jeannine Marie Pitas
Reviewed by Talia Franks
1 February 18

I Remember Nightfall by Marosa di Giorgio (trans. From the Spanish by Jeannine Marie Pitas) is a bilingual poetry volume in four parts, consisting of the poems “The History of Violets,” “Magnolia,” “The War of the Orchards,” and “The Native Garden is in Flames.” Each of these prose poems is divided into numbered sections, and given its own page. While each poem has its own story and flavor, they all revolve around the relationship that gardens have with family, desire, memory, and war. Complex and possibly triggering themes exist in the text regarding love, family, and isolation. Visceral descriptions of violence, including murder, cannibalism, abuse, rape, and molestation are also prevalent.

Both the original Spanish and the accompanying English translation are beautifully written, and although the themes within the text are at times highly disturbing, they are written in. . .

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By Anna Ballbona
Translated by from the Catalan into the Spanish by María Paz Ortuño
Reviewed by Brendan Riley
26 January 18

This review was originally published as a report on the book at New Spanish Books, and has been reprinted here with permission of the reviewer. The book was originally published in the Catalan by Anagrama as Joyce i les gallines.

Anna Ballbona’s recent, highly praised, debut novel Joyce y las gallinas follows the misad-ventures of Dora, a young, disillusioned Catalan journalist who commutes to Barcelona by day from the rather hermetic and lifeless suburbs around the small industrial city of Granollers. Do-ra’s uninspiring assignments, anodyne reporting on inconsequential city hall press conferences and––for the fourth consecutive year––Epiphany parades for children, leave her hungry for more vital literary and artistic experiences. A weekend holiday to Ireland and an unexpected invitation to a Finnegans Wake reading introduce her to Murphy, a Dubliner whose two passions in life are studying James. . .

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By Ella Frances Sanders
Translated by
Reviewed by Kaija Straumanis
27 December 17

Hello and greetings in the 2017 holiday season!

For those of you still looking for something to gift a friend or family member this winter season, or if you’re on the lookout for something to gift in the future, or even if you’re looking for something small and fun to gift to yourself—and especially if you want to break the ice in terms of the topic of translation (maybe you’re still trying to get your family on-board with your affection for translated literature and languages, either as a career or a reading preference? maybe it’ll be easier than getting them to accept your middle-aged jam-band aspirations or that questionable tattoo idea you still believe is representative of who you really are?) I wanted to take a quick moment to recommend something I myself was recently gifted: Lost in. . .

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By Branko Anđić
Translated by Elizabeth Salmore
Reviewed by Jaimie Lau
22 December 17

Three generations of men—a storyteller, his father and his son—encompass this book’s world. . . . it is a world of historical confusion, illusion, and hope of three generations of Belgraders.

The first and last sentences of the first chapter of The Size of the World give the reader the characters, setting, and central metaphor of Branko Anđić’s novel. It is a metaphor that is used throughout the book, sometimes well, though at other times tortured and stretched. It is definitely recommended that one makes peace with the idea of the world having different sizes because it is used, a lot. Part of the Serbian Prose in Translation Series from Geopoetika, the book is translated by Elizabeth Salmore and consists of sixteen chapters, all of which are told from the point of view of the protagonist/narrator, unnamed but presumed. . .

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By Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès
Translated by Hannah Chute
Reviewed by Katherine Rucker
18 December 17

The Island of Point Nemo is a novel tour by plane, train, automobile, blimp, horse, and submarine through a world that I can only hope is what Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès’s psyche looks like, giant squids and all.

What begins as a seemingly simple case of jewel-thievery affecting a high-class widow takes a twist for the dystopian and absurd as the heroes chase severed limbs and diamonds the size of your fist across the globe. Every clue toward the recovery of the jewels is another knot in the storyline, and every character they meet is a new disaster, a new twist in the road.

On the advice of hookers, sword-swallowers, and train car strangers, always dandily dressed to the nines, Martial Canterel, our hero, races toward Point Nemo (the place in the ocean geographically farthest from land) in. . .

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By Mario Benedetti
Translated by Harry Morales
Reviewed by Adrianne Aron
20 November 17

Mario Benedetti (1920-2009), Uruguay’s most beloved writer, was a man who loved to bend the rules. He gave his haikus as many syllables as fit his mood, and wrote a play divided into sections instead of acts. In his country, he was an outspoken supporter of the Frente Amplio, resisting the brutal dictatorship that forced him into a 12-year exile. He was a man who took sides, and took chances. That such a man could invent the intimate diary of a person like Martín Santomé says much for Benedetti’s deep sensitivity to the human condition. The diary is the text for his 1960 novel La Tregua (The Truce).

Martín Santomé is a 49-year-old worn out accountant close to retirement, a widower living with his three grown children. A casual bed fellow once described him as looking like a clerk. . .

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By Kim Kyung Ju
Translated by Jake Levine
Reviewed by Jacob Rogers
26 October 17

Kim Kyung Ju’s I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World, translated from the Korean by Jake Levine, is a wonderful absurdist poetry collection. It’s a mix of verse and prose poems, or even poems in the forms of plays, all of which make use of what could most simply be termed an overriding sense of “synesthesia.” Throughout the collection, Kyung Ju mixes up sensorial language, whether that which we use to describe our bodies, or the world around us. What results is a fascinating defamiliarization and confusion of the way we use language to describe our lives, what we feel and experience, in a fever-dreamlike onslaught of vivid, visceral images.

Not simply interesting for their absurdity, these moments of confusion are also so well-rendered that they still feel somehow realistic and tangible. Jake Levine’s skillful. . .

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By Yuri Herrera
Translated by Lisa Dillman
Reviewed by Sarah Booker
8 September 17

Yuri Herrera is overwhelming in the way that he sucks readers into his worlds, transporting them to a borderland that is at once mythical in its construction and powerfully recognizable as a reflection of its modern-day counterpart. Kingdom Cons, originally published in Spanish in 2004 and translated by Lisa Dillman, is Herrera’s third novel to be published in English (though the first he wrote in Spanish) and it completes his loosely-connected triptych of border novels. In his other novels, Signs Preceding the End of the World (2015) and The Transmigration of Bodies (2016), Herrera tackles the experience of crossing the border, the conflicts between crime families, and the effects of disease within the context of the US/Mexico border. Taking on the upper echelons of narco-culture in this text, Kingdom Cons examines the possibilities of language, artistic creation, and the construction. . .

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By Rodrigo Fresán
Translated by Will Vanderhyden
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols
1 September 17

Imagine reading a work that suddenly and very accurately calls out you, the reader, for not providing your full attention to the act of reading. Imagine how embarrassing it is when you, the reader, believe that you are engrossed in a work only to have the work identify and criticize your lack of attention. Yes, my phone was next to me at all times while reading Rodrigo Fresán’s The Invented Part, and often I was tempted to dash off 140 character reactions to the work, only to be shamed by it a few lines down in the text. This is part of the charm that is The Invented Part. Weaved throughout it are reflections and criticisms of our shift from the written word on a page to a screen. The timing of the publication of the English translation is perfect. . .

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