LITERARY REVOLT VS. IDEOLOGICAL FANATICISM: MOHAMED MBOUGAR SARR’S “BROTHERHOOD,” TRANSLATED BY ALEXIA TRIGO
In his debut novel “Brotherhood,” Mohamed Mbougar Sarr asks what happens when pervasive religious ideology is pitted against clandestine authorship. When society comes under the control of violent extremists, and the very act of composition becomes grounds for execution, how can one reconcile personal moral convictions against the drive to survive?
Memory and the Search of Stories Past: Emmelie Prophète’s “Blue,” Translated from French by Tina Kover
While “Blue” is set in a terminal of the Miami airport, to say that the novel is set in any one place in time would be misleading, when the novel is actually set in numerous locations, Miami, the shadow of New York City, a mountainous Haitian village named Suzanne, and the Haitian cities of Les Cayes and Port-au-Prince and many moments in time.
A Plague for Our Times: Albert Camus’ “The Plague,” Translated from French by Laura Marris
It is impossible to read The Plague now without thinking of COVID-19 and its globally catastrophic and ongoing wreckage. With Laura Marris’ new translation, we have a text for the twenty-first century. I hesitate to write “for a new generation,” as accurate as that may be, because even those of us who’ve read Stuart Gilbert’s translation can find new meaning, new life, in Marris’ extraordinary translation.
Haiti in Translation: Nathan Dize Interviews Emma Donovan Page
When Jan J. Dominique published her memoir Wandering Memory in French in 2008, eight years had gone by since her father’s assassination. On April 3, 2000, Jean Léopold Dominique was gunned down in front of the radio station he owned and operated since the 1960s. The New York Times reported on Dominique’s death, a state funeral was held, and Haitians living in the country and abroad went into a period of collective mourning.
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT: MERYEM ALAOUI’S “STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH,” TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH BY EMMA RAMADAN
Alaoui’s novel, as hilarious as it is political, is a testament to the fact that literature does not have to be depressing or solemn to deliver a powerful message. Like Ramadan, I hope more publishers will invest in translating playful books that appeal to diverse readerships while defying stereotypes and expanding perspectives.
A Poet’s Legacy: René Noyau’s “Earth on Fire,” Translated from French by Gérard Noyau and Peter Pegnall
“Earth on Fire” is a compelling gateway into Noyau’s work and into Mauritian literature.
The Net and the Fence: On Jean Daive’s “Under the Dome: Walks with Paul Celan,” Translated from French by Rosmarie Waldrop
By Anna Levett Several times in Under the Dome, Jean Daive’s elliptical, poetic memoir about his friendship with the Jewish German-language poet Paul Celan, a net bag makes an appearance. I imagine it’s the kind of bag in which you would carry fruits or vegetables that you’d bought from a market—a bag made of mesh […]
The Safeguards of Translation: Philippe Jaccottet’s “Patches of Sunlight, or of Shadow: Safeguarded Notes, 1952-2005,” Translated from French by John Taylor
By Samuel Martin Holding the latest volume of notes by the Swiss poet and translator Philippe Jaccottet, turning it over in one’s hands, one’s first impression is indeed of volume and bold color; it is another of the lavish editions that Seagull Books have made their calling card in recent years. One’s second impression, having […]
A Manifesto for Uncertain Times: Noémi Lefebvre’s “Poetics of Work,” Translated by Sophie Lewis
By Andria Spring “Are we at war, Papa?” “What makes you think that?” “I don’t know, all these soldiers outside the shops.” “Then it must be war.” “But people are shopping in the sales.” “So we can’t be at war.” “The police are checking handbags and ID cards.” “That means it’s war.” “But there are […]
Translation as Care: On Fabienne Kanor’s “Humus,” Translated from French by Lynn E. Palermo
With her novel, Kanor converts loss and absence that mark the experience of slavery into recovery and presence.
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 […]
Translation as Testimony: On Makenzy Orcel’s “The Immortals,” Translated from French by Nathan Dize
By Jennifer Boum Make You immortalize all the whores of Grand Rue, taken away by this thing. Makenzy Orcel, The Immortals Makenzy Orcel. Nathan Dize. Two writers who have tasked themselves to transform the stories of others as they create language that allows the rendering and relaying of the voices of those who are too […]
GETTING INSIDE THE OUTSIDE: ANDRÉ DU BOUCHET’S “OUTSIDE,” TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH BY ERIC FISHMAN AND HOYT ROGERS
By John Taylor Following upon Hoyt Rogers and Paul Auster’s translation of André du Bouchet’s Openwork (Yale University Press, 2014), this fascinating new translation, Outside—by Rogers and Eric Fishman—draws attention once again to a seminal figure in postwar French poetry. Thematically and philosophically, if not from a stylistic perspective, du Bouchet (1924-2001) can be associated […]
Alone With One’s Thoughts: Henri Bosco’s “Malicroix,” translated from French by Joyce Zonana
Before the story begins, Bosco alludes to a number of pages omitted from the novel and reserved for that moment when “someone truly qualified” might gain access. And so Malicroix puzzles and conceals even after it is closed.
Halcyon Days: Adrien Goetz’s “Villa of Delirium,” translated from French by Natasha Lehrer
The novel falls within the greater readiness in French culture to reckon with the nation’s anti-Semitic past than its colonialism.