Wednesday, April 23, 2014

International Books and Roses Day 2014

Today is La Diade de Sant Jordi in Catalan lands, a.k.a. St. George's Day, a.k.a. UNESCO's World Book Day, a.k.a. International Books & Roses Day. Traditionally, Saint Jordi's is an old-fashioned sexist holiday (men give women roses; women give men books); not sure I like that division of labor. But nowadays Sant Jordi has been updated (books and blossoms for everyone!), and this coming Saturday April 26 it'll be celebrated in NYC in perfect form by the Catalan Institute of America in partnership with four publishers/bookshops in Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood that will be presenting an afternoon of micro-readings of translated literature, food, music and, yes, roses.

So join the peregrinations, hear some great stories, and spend the afternoon walking around DUMBO - the weather forecast is good, should be a perfect day for it.

Here's the lineup:

Stop 1: 1:00-1:30pm Melville House Books—Alex Zucker reads Jachym Topol, Ross Ufberg reads Marek Hłasko 

Stop 2: 1:45pm-2:15pm Berl’s Poetry Shop—Alina Gregorian reads from Armenian poets, Rowan Ricardo Phillips reads The Ground, with Catalan translations by Melcion Mateu. 

Stop 3: 2:30pm-3pm P.S. Bookshop—Margaret B. Carson reads Sergio Chejpec, Eric Becker reads Mia Couto 

Stop 4: 3:15pm-4pm powerHouse Arena—Rowan Ricardo Phillips reads Salvador Espriu, Mary Ann Newman reads Josep Carner, and a special guest will read Josep Pla’s The Gray Notebook. With musical accompaniment by Albert Marquès and Gianna Gagliardi, jazz duet.

See the poster for the map of all the venues, and contact Adina Levin if you have any questions. Happy Sant Jordi's Day!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Crossing Worlds Conference, May 2-3, 2014

The first weekend of May in NYC is going to be a good one: Even if your spring fever has worn off, you'll have the chance to see a handful of luminaries in the field of translation studies speaking at a really excellent-sounding conference, which is open to the general public: "Crossing Worlds: Translation, Eventfulness and the Political." The conference is a co-production of the Center for Translation Studies at Barnard College and the Columbia Institute for Comparative Literature and Society.

The program is split over a Friday and Saturday and a pair of venues: the elegant James Room in Barnard Hall and Columbia's Maison Française.

Here's an account of the questions on the organizers' minds as they assembled the program:
Translation has long been approached in terms of linguistic reciprocity, equivalences, commensurability or incommensurability, as well as the promise or withdrawal of meaning among languages. But can the eventfulness of translation itself be thought? For instance, in what ways may translation help us reimagine the boundaries of past and present, of here and there, moments of epistemic rupture, cultural negotiation, political violence, mediation and remediation, and so on? Does the eventfulness of translation reside in the textual world, such as treaties, novels, letters, news, legal code, and other documents and publications? Or does it lie in the translation machine, mechanical, bureaucratic, automatic, or otherwise? Or rather, is it to be located in the mind of the translator and his/her reader? Since the problem of translation is ubiquitous and cuts across so many disciplines and fields, the study of this subject cannot but move beyond conventional translation studies. Currently, new approaches are being developed here and there to open up the field to other kinds of inquiries, and we have arrived at a point where the eventfulness of translation needs to be interrogated.
Here's the list of speakers:

Emily Apter (NYU), Tamara Chin (Brown), Peter Connor (Barnard), Souleymane Bachir Diagne (Columbia), Karen Van Dyck (Columbia), Brent Edwards (Columbia), Nergis Ertürk (Penn State), Stathis Gourgouris (Columbia), Michael Hill (University of South Carolina), Lydia Liu (Columbia), Rosalind Morris (Columbia), Brian O'Keeffe (Barnard), Avital Ronell (NYU), Naoki Sakai (Cornell), Shaden Tageldin (University of Minnesota), Phillip John Usher (Barnard), Hent de Vries (Johns Hopkins), and David Wills (Brown).

For complete schedule and venue information, check the conference website; if you have questions, contact Casey McNamara.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Translation on Tap in NYC April 24 - May 1, 2014

Here's what's coming up:

Thursday, April 24, 2014
Book launch for Everything Happens as It Does by Albena Stambolova, translated from the Bulgarian by Olga Nikolova. Stambolova and Nikolova will be joined by critic Dimitar Kambourov and Asymptote editor Eric Becker. General Consulate of the Republic of Bulgaria, 121 East 62nd Street, 7:00 p.m.

Friday, April 25, 2014
Translating the Untranslatable: Contemporary Poetry Translation in the U.S. - a roundtable and reading featuring Pierre Alferi, Anne Portugal, Charles Bernstein, Cole Swensen, Pierre Joris, Tracy Grinnell, and Avital Ronell. NYU French Department, 19 University Place, 6th floor, 2:00 - 6:00 p.m.

Friday April 25, 2014
Contemporary French Poetry in the U.S.: Translating, Publishing, Adapting. With French and American poets Pierre Alferi, Anne Portugal, Charles Bernstein, Cole Swensen, Pierre Joris and Tracy Grinnell, presented by Vincent Broqua. McNally Jackson, 52 Prince Street, 8:00 p.m.

Monday, April 28, 2014
"From Translation All Science Had Its Offspring": Launch event for the new modernized and annotated edition of John Florio's 1603 translShakespeare's Montaigne), featuring co-editor Peter Platt in conversation with Phillip John Usher. James Room, 4th Floor, Barnard Hall, Barnard College (Broadway and 117th, New York City), 6:30 p.m.
ation of Michel de Montaigne's Essays (

Josef Winkler
Tuesday, April 29
An Evening with Josef Winkler
The acclaimed Austrian author will present the English translations of his novels Natura Morta and When the Time Comes with his translator Adrian West as part of an evening of music and dance at the Austrian Cultural Forum, 11 E. 52nd St., (between Madison and Fifth), 7:30 p.m.

Jessica Cohen and Evan Fallenberg
Thursday, May 1
The Bridge Series goes Hebrew (הגשר) with translator Jessica Cohen and translator/author Evan Fallenberg reading and discussing their work. Details here. McNally Jackson Books, 52 Prince St., 7:00 p.m.

And don't forget the PEN World Voices Festival April 28 - May 4, including various translation events.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Translation Events at 2014 PEN World Voices Festival

The theme of this year's PEN World Voices Festival (April 28 - May 4) is Literature on the Edge, and as usual the Translation Committee has put together a themed panel (Translation on the Edge) to suggest ways of considering the festival's theme with regard to translators and translation. A new edition of the ever-popular Translation Slam will be included in this year's festival as well.

Here's a complete rundown of the translation-related events. Tickets to any of them can be purchased at a 20% discount using the code PEN2014 (for events at the Public Theater) or PEN14 (for all others).

Tuesday, April 29
Master Class: Adonis and Jorie Graham with translator Khaled Mattawa
In a rare visit to the States, once-imprisoned Syrian author Adonis, considered by many to be the most important Arab poet, will speak with celebrated American poet Jorie Graham and award-winning translator and scholar Khaled Mattawa.
Anspacher, The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street
7:00 p.m.

Friday, May 2
Translation Slam
What happens when a poem migrates into another language, not just once but twice? Find out at the Translation Slam, a perennial Festival favorite! The M.C. will be Michael F. Moore, joined by translators Kerri Pierce, Baba Badji, Emmanuelle Ertel and Pejk Malinovski, along with poets Tracy K. Smith, and K.E. Semmel.
Anspacher, The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street
9:00 p.m.

Saturday, May 3
Translating on the Edge
Translation can be dangerous and subversive from a literary perspective. It can also take on a political or ideological dimension. This panel brings together translators who have worked with texts considered blasphemous, obscene, or otherwise dangerous to offer their views on the place where art meets politics.
With Robyn Creswell, Bonnie Huie, and Sara Khalili, moderated by Heather Cleary for the PEN Translation Committee
The Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, The Cooper Union
41 Cooper Square (Third Avenue @ 6th Street)
1:00 p.m.

Visit for more information including a complete schedule, and remember the discount codes PEN2014 (for the Public Theater) and PEN14 (for other venues), which will get you a 20% discount on tickets to any of the ticketed events.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Best Translated Book Award 2014 Shortlists

The long-awaited Best Translated Book Award finalists have just been announced in both the poetry and fiction categories. I am delighted to see a number of excellent smaller presses represented, along with many translators whose work I admire. Special congratulations to New Directions, Archipelago and Zephyr, each of which is doubly represented.

Behold the two shortlists:


Relocations: 3 Contemporary Russian Women Poets by Polina Barskova, Anna Glazova, and Maria Stepanova, translated from the Russian by Catherine Ciepiela, Anna Khasin, and Sibelan Forrester (Russia; Zephyr Press)

A Guest in the Wood by Elsa Biagini, translated from the Italian by Diana Thow, Sarah Stickney, and Eugene Ostashevsky (Italy; Chelsea Editions)

The Unknown University by Roberto Bolaño, translated from the Spanish by Laura Healy (Chile, New Directions)

White Piano by Nicole Brossard, translated from the French by Robert Majzels and Erin Mouré (Canada; Coach House Press)

Murder by Danielle Collobert, translated from the French by Nathanaël (France; Litmus Press)

In the Moremarrow by Oliverio Girondo, translated from the Spanish by Molly Weigel (Argentina; Action Books)

Paul Klee’s Boat by Anzhelina Polonskaya, translated from the Russian by Andrew Wachtel (Russia; Zephyr Press)

Four Elemental Bodies by Claude Royet-Journaud, translated from the French by Keith Waldrop (France; Burning Deck)

The Oasis of Now by Sohrab Sepehri, translated from the Persian by Kazim Ali and Mohammad Jafar Mahallati (Iran; BOA Editions)

His Days Go By the Way Her Years by Ye Mimi, translated from the Chinese by Steve Bradbury (Taiwan; Anomalous Press)


Horses of God by Mahi Binebine, translated from the French by Lulu Norman (Morocco; Tin House)

Blinding by Mircea Cărtărescu, translated from the Romanian by Sean Cotter (Romania; Archipelago Books)

The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein (Italy; Europa Editions)

Tirza by Arnon Grunberg, translated from the Dutch by Sam Garrett (Netherlands; Open Letter Books)

My Struggle: Book Two by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett (Norway; Archipelago Books)

Seiobo There Below by László Krasznahorkai, translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet (Hungary; New Directions)

A True Novel by Minae Mizumura, translated from the Japanese by Juliet Winters (Japan; Other Press)

The African Shore by Rodrigo Rey Rosa, translated from the Spanish by Jeffrey Gray (Guatemala; Yale University Press)

Leg Over Leg Vol. 1 by Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq, translated from the Arabic by Humphrey Davies (Lebanon; New York University Press)

The Forbidden Kingdom by Jan Jacob Slauerhoff, translated from the Dutch by Paul Vincent (Netherlands; Pushkin Press)

This year's judges include - for poetry - Stefania Heim, Bill Martin, Rebecca McKay, Daniele Pantano, and Anna Rosenwong; and for fiction, George Carroll, Monica Carter, Scott Esposito, Sarah Gerard, Elizabeth Harris, Daniel Medin, Michael Orthofer, Stephen Sparks and Jenn Witte.

The winners of the Best Translated Book Awards in both categories will be announced on April 28, 2014, so if you're the betting type, time's a-wastin'! Watch this space for the news when it breaks.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Translation on Tap in NYC April 15 - 25, 2014

There'll be a lot happening translation-wise in the greater New York area over the next 10 days. Check it out:

Tuesday, April 15
This one's in (sort of) nearby Princeton, New Jersey: Peter Brooks & Linda Asher discussing Balzac: The Human Comedy - Selected Stories. Asher is one of the translators of the volume, which appeared this year from New York Review Books Classics. Labyrinth Books, 122 Nassau St., Princeton, 6:00 p.m.

Wednesday, April 16:
Rachida Madani, whose Tales of a Severed Head Marilyn Hacker translated for Yale UP, will be reading with Pierre Joris along with a group of Moroccan musicians at the Silvana Club, 300 W. 116th St. (a really nice newish cafe with a dining/performance space downstairs), 6:30 p.m.

Friday, April 25, 2014
Translating the Untranslatable: Contemporary Poetry Translation in the U.S. - a roundtable and reading featuring Pierre Alferi, Anne Portugal, Charles Bernstein, Cole Swensen, Pierre Joris, Tracy Grinnell, and Avital Ronell. NYU French Department, 19 University Place, 6th floor, 2:00 - 6:00 p.m.

Friday April 25, 2014
Contemporary French Poetry in the U.S.: Translating, Publishing, Adapting. With French and American poets Pierre Alferi, Anne Portugal, Charles Bernstein, Cole Swensen, Pierre Joris and Tracy Grinnell, presented by Vincent Broqua. McNally Jackson, 52 Prince Street, 8:00 p.m.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Shortlist Announced

It's been an eventful couple of days at the London Book Fair, it seems. First the LBF awards, and now the shortlist for the 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, one of the highest-profile international prizes for a work in translation. The prize-winning book will be announced on May 22.

Here are the finalists:

• The Iraqi Christ, by Hassan Blasim, translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright (Comma Press)

• A Man in Love, by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett (Harvill Secker)

• A Meal in Winter, by Hubert Mingarelli, translated from the French by Sam Taylor (Portobello Books)

• The Mussel Feast, by Birgit Vanderbeke, translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch (Peirene Press)

• Revenge, by Yōko Ogawa, translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder (Harvill Secker)

• Strange Weather in Tokyo, by Hiromi Kawakami and translated from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell (Portobello)

I'm glad to see Jonathan Wright on the shortlist after indignities suffered last year; the universe owed him one.

Here's the official shortlist announcement, and check The Guardian for some useful background information on the authors and books. May the best book and the best translator win!