Tag Archives: literary reviews
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.
A Phone Call, and A Revelation: Sasha Naspini’s “Nives,” Translated by Clarissa Botsford
By Olivia Soule In Sacha Naspini’s Nives, translated from the Italian by Clarissa Botsford, the significance of the long phone call that lasts almost the entire novel creeps up on you. Towards the beginning, the elderly, eponymous widow calls the local veterinarian when one of her chickens has become frozen in place; this everyday conversation […]
Translation as Capitulation: Mario Martín Gijón’s “Sur(rendering),” Translated from Spanish by Terence Dooley
Surrendering, giving in, letting go: if Martín Gijón’s poems stage, at the formal level, the poet’s handing over control to language itself, letting etymology and morphology steer his associations, their thematic content also underscores the role of rendition as an act and attitude of romantic love. Dooley, in turn, manages to strike a fine balance between the translator’s obsessive pursuit of the original’s meaning in the target language, on the one hand and, on the other, the acceptance of the original’s ultimate elusiveness.
“Literature is the Sudden Disintegration of the Verbal Fabric of Everyday Life”: Domenico Starnone in Conversation with Enrica Maria Ferrara and Stiliana Milkova
I love the idea that the city we have left behind enshrines the ghost of the person we could have become, for better or worse, had we stayed there. And I am very fond of the idea that the ghost, which we consider part of us and therefore a friend, may turn out to be frightening or hostile.
On Bonds and Baggage: Domenico Starnone’s “Ties”
Starnone captures and dissects a vast array of concerns in a slim volume, neatly structured and tightly plotted, yet at the same time open-ended, without definitive answers or solutions. “Ties,” in other words, packs a lot of baggage into a small container while also leaving the container ajar, like Pandora’s box.
Three Stories from Domenico Starnone’s “Fuori Registro”: “The Empty Classroom,” “Once Again,” “Dandelion”
A few minutes passed, and I felt ill at ease. Then I recited a poem and commented on it, in that loo: “The pensive father with his goatish hair…”
Love, Death, and Language in Starnone’s “Vita mortale e immortale della bambina di Milano”
On the surface, “Vita mortale e immortale della bambina di Milano” (“Mortal and Immortal Life of the Girl from Milan”), Domenico Starnone’s latest literary gem (Einaudi, October 2021), has a deceptively simple plot. It relays the wondrous deeds of a young boy, Mimì (short for Domenico) who has a morbid curiosity towards death and is also the protagonist of three tragicomic love affairs.
Divine Experience or Divine Faith? Veronika Haacker-Lukacs Interviews Translator Jozefina Komporaly
Földényi’s The Glance of the Medusa is an astounding encyclopaedia of ancient and early Christian thought. It invites the reader on a historical, mystical and mythical journey encompassing ancient Greek and Egyptian religions as well as the early Christian Mystics and Gnostics to examine experiences bringing human beings and (the) God(s) into such extreme proximity with each other that one might well merge into the other.
Claiming the Canon: Magda Portal’s “Hope and the Sea,” translated from Spanish by Kathleen Weaver
The appearance of this collection is a statement of intervention into the canon of Latin American poetry. Its contextual materials, which include Weaver’s description of meeting Magda Portal in Berkeley in 1981, attest to a long lineage of intentional stewardship of women’s poetics inspired by Portal’s own fierce advocacy, beginning with the book’s initial publication in 1927.
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 […]