Author Archives: smilkova

“There’s No Place Left on Earth That’s Peaceful”: Zülfü Livaneli’s “Disquiet,” translated from Turkish by Brendan Freely

Livaneli is a household name in Turkey and an outstanding figure in the cultural and political life of his native country. A writer, poet, composer, producer, film director, and political activist, Livaneli was named a Goodwill Ambassador by UNESCO in 1996 for his contributions to world peace through music and literature.

Released into Captivity: Matéi Visniec’s “Mr K Released,” Translated from Romanian by Jozefina Komporaly

Part parable of human fallibility, part allegorical critique of political systems at which we fail and which fail us, Mr. K Released draws on the chaotic transition from totalitarianism to democracy that Romania, Matei Visniec’s homeland, and other former Eastern Bloc countries, experienced after the collapse of communism in the late 1980s.

Where the Neighborhood Ends: Marija Knežević’s “Breathing Technique,” Translated from the Serbian by Sibelan Forrester

By Russell Scott Valentino Marija Knežević is a prolific Serbian author based in Belgrade who has published some ten books of poetry since approximately 1994. She is also the author of several collections of short stories and essays, and the novels Auto (2017) and Ekaterini (2005), the latter translated by Will Firth into English and […]

Subterranean Teenage Blues: Dolores Reyes’ “Eartheater,” Translated from Spanish by Julia Sanches

By Melanie Broder Forty-seven women were murdered in Argentina in the first two months of 2021, according to a report by Telám, the national news agency. That’s one femicide every 30 hours. An article by Reuters put the figure at 12 women per day across Latin America. While Latin America has the highest rates worldwide, […]

Turin’s Skies, Women’s Bodies, and Foreign Lands: Marina Jarre’s “Distant Fathers,” Translated from Italian by Ann Goldstein

The centrality of women’s experiences in current Italian fiction has drawn attention to previously neglected works. Although Jarre’s frankness about the body, from childhood to older age, is not shocking after Ferrante, it marked a new contribution to Italian literature in her time.

Natalia Ginzburg

A Short History of “Reintroducing Natalia Ginzburg”

We are stuck in a loop of “reintroducing Natalia Ginzburg.” The current iteration of that loop depends on publishers’ marketing of Ginzburg as a precursor to Elena Ferrante. However, this genealogy arises out of a necessity to sell books; Ginzburg’s relation to her peers—Cesar Pavese, Elsa Morante, Italo Calvino—has far more relevance than the specter of her impact on Ferrante.

Natalia Ginzburg

“The Shattered House”: Lynne Sharon Schwartz on Natalia Ginzburg

nstead of by century or by literary movement, writers of fiction might be classified by times of day or slants of light. Tolstoy would fall under the clarity of high noon, Dostoievski  the hysteria of three a.m. Natalia Ginzburg’s pervasive wit and minute details would suggest a morning sensibility, while her repetitions and obsessiveness feel nocturnal. In the end, though, she is crepuscular, like Chekhov.

Metamonopolyphonic: Antoine Volodine’s “Solo Viola,” Translated from French by Lia Swope Mitchell

By Neal Baker Solo Viola is a work of fiction whose fantasy begins on the front cover. The name Antoine Volodine, supposedly identifying the novel’s author, is in fact an introduction to one of many characters populating the literary world of Volodine’s peculiar brand of science fiction he himself termed “post-exoticism.” Volodine is the primary […]

Global Perspectives, Trauma, and the Global Novel: Ferrante’s Poetics Between Storytelling, Uncanny Realism and Dissolving Margins

Excerpt from: de Rogatis, Tiziana. “Global Perspectives, Trauma, and the Global Novel: Ferrante’s Poetics between Storytelling, Uncanny Realism, and Dissolving Margins.” MLN 136:1 (2021), 6-9. © 2021 Johns Hopkins University Press.  Reprinted with permission of Johns Hopkins University Press. Read the Introduction to “Elena Ferrante in a Global Context,” the special issue of Modern Language […]

Elena Ferrante in a Global Context

This special issue was born out of the interweaving of our personal and professional stories, at the intersection of our different mother tongues and acquired languages, homelands, and disciplinary backgrounds. An Italian-Neapolitan scholar in Italy, a Bulgarian scholar in the United States, and a German scholar in the United Kingdom, we found a common ground through the study of Elena Ferrante and on the pages of a 2016 volume of the Italian scholarly journal Allegoria.

Selfhood and Narration: Goliarda Sapienza’s “Meeting In Positano,” Translated from Italian by Brian Robert Moore

By Maria Morelli Written in 1984, Meeting in Positano marks the last volume of Goliarda Sapienza’s Autobiography of Contradictions (as she herself labelled her unorthodox autobiographical project) which began in 1967 with Lettera Aperta (Open Letter) and which her premature demise brought to an abrupt end. Departing from the narratological approach that had marked the […]

Loyalty in Language: Marco Balzano’s “I’m Staying Here,” Translated from Italian by Jill Foulston

By Maria Massucco The opening chapters of Marco Balzano’s I’m Staying Here find the narrator Trina’s memory coming into focus around a time of historic upheaval: Until that time [spring of ’23], life had kept pace with the rhythm of the seasons, especially in these border valleys. Like an echo that fades away, history seemed […]

A Lesson in Resilience: Selva Casal’s “We Do Not Live in Vain,” Translated from Spanish by Jeannine Marie Pitas

By Gabriella Martin When we read a book—the particular, personal or historical context in which we carry out our reading—holds the power to shape the lens through which we do so. At present, we are reading in the midst of what for many has felt like a wasted year, burdened by missed opportunities, delayed gratification, […]

Immigrant Song: “My Brother’s Suitcase: Stories About the Road,” Translated from Bulgarian by Ekaterina Petrova

By Izidora Angel No matter where you go, you always carry your loneliness with you, even that unconscious black loneliness that bubbles up beneath the youthful optimism. Zoya Marincheva, “Meridians and Demons” (from My Brother’s Suitcase) That Bulgarian even exists to translate from is a kind of miracle. Despite the country’s rich history dating back […]

Breaking the Ice: On Eva Baltasar’s “Permafrost,” translated from Catalan by Julia Sanches

By Eva Dunsky You wouldn’t want to be clocked by the narrator of Eva Baltasar’s Permafrost. She has an effortless way of sussing out the thing that will devastate you most and then stating it as a pithy one-liner. “Being the bearer of important news: the only climax Mom has ever known” (50). This, after […]