Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘translation’

Reviews |

Agaat, by Marlene van Niekerk, trans. Michiel Heyns

Preeta Samarasan finds South African novelist Marlene van Niekerk’s Agaat to be transformative. The story of an Afrikaner woman and the black servant who has worked for her for most of both their lives, Agaat examines relationships of race and power between the two women by employing a stunning combination of structural intricacy, stylistic range, and daring allegory.


Shop Talk |

Curl Up with a Good Story: "A Simple Heart," by Gustave Flaubert

Flaubert, best known for his part in fathering the modern novel, also wrote wonderful short fiction. This Saturday morning, I recommend curling up with “A Simple Heart.” A tribute to George Sand, this story was first published in 1877 as part of Flaubert’s final finished work, Three Tales; almost 100 years later it inspired Julian Barnes to write the novel Flaubert’s Parrot, which was shortlisted for the 1984 Booker Prize. Here’s a taste from “A Simple Heart”: For fifty years the ladies of Pont-l’Évêque envied Madame Aubain her servant Felicity. For a hundred francs a year she cooked, and cleaned, […]


Essays |

In Other Words

Raised in Greece during its period of intensive Westernization, Giota Tachtara lived all her life among things that had two names, two qualities, two associations, and two accents: one in Greek and one in English. Now, as an American resident, she roots through her bilingual bookcase and writes about the narrator in her head who’s caught in the middle.


Shop Talk |

Loss for words? Borrow some.

A few weeks back, Michael sent me a pretty sweet list of “Words That Don’t Exist in English” from Matt Griswold’s blog. They include: Waldeinsamkeit (German): The feeling of being alone in the woods. Esprit de l’escalier (French): The feeling you get after leaving a conversation, when you think of all the things you should have said. Literally translated: “the spirit of the staircase.” Laced with Love has a round-up of words that don’t exist in English as well#151;some overlap, but one I particularly enjoyed was: Tingo (Pascuense language of Easter Island): To borrow objects one by one from a […]


Essays |

The Seamless Skin: Translation’s Halting Flow

Jennifer Solheim weaves the story of her decade-long translation of Yolaine Simha’s I Saw You on the Street into a meditation on the nature of the translator’s labor. Solheim looks at history, politics, time and rereading to parse how “translation can become a snake biting its own tail: the translator as writer and reader is simultaneously subsumed and resurrected by the text in the original.”


Shop Talk |

Further Thoughts on Translation

Over at MelvilleHouse Publishing there’s an interesting blog post, In Support of Translation, along with responses, about the Best Translated Book Award being funded by Amazon. Editor Dennis Loy Johnson writes: As the winner of the most recent Best Translated Book (BTB) prize for fiction — for our book, The Confessions of Noa Weber, by Gail Hareven — we here at Melville House were particularly proud to win an award that had been voted upon by a judging panel made up of representatives from some of the country’s best independent booksellers, not to mention some great indie bloggers and critics. […]


Essays |

The 2010 Sozopol Fiction Seminar

Each spring the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation selects five English speaking writers and five Bulgarian writers to participate in the Sozopol Fiction Seminar, which takes places in the tiny, historic town of Sozopol, Bulgaria, on the Black Sea. Four of the 2010 English speaking fellows–Kelly Luce, Carin Clevidence, Charles Conley, and Paul Vidich–collaborate on a group portrait of their experience at this year’s seminar.


Shop Talk |

The Wonder of translation

Translation gives those of us who are not linguistic polymaths access to the great books being written all over the planet. A good translation doesn’t simply convey the story being told – it pays attention to original voice of the author, picking up on nuance and subtleties. The judges of the 2010 PEN Translation Prize found just those shades of meaning in Michael Henry Heim’s translation from the Dutch of Hugo Claus’s Wonder (Archipelago Books). They write: Michael Henry Heim’s outstanding translation has succeeded masterfully in mirroring Hugo Claus’s many voices in this novel that reflects a complex, complicated vision […]


Reviews |

The Museum of Innocence, by Orhan Pamuk

Like most of us, Orhan Pamuk’s narrator Kemal rushes through his happiest moments in a preoccupied haze, only appreciating them in hindsight. A true materialist, he seeks to recreate them through his collections of mementos large and small, iconic and insignificant. His “museum” in The Museum of Innocence (Knopf, 2009) is a diorama not only of Kemal’s own nostalgia, but of Turkey itself in the late 1970s.




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