Wayward Heroes by Nobel Laureate Halldór Laxness and translated from the Icelandic by Philip Roughton is now officially out and available for purchase. Our friends over at Tin House have published an excerpt of the novel over on their blog, which you can read here.
“Brilliant, bleak, uproariously funny, and still alarmingly prescient, Wayward Heroes belongs in the pantheon of the antiwar novel alongside such touchstones as Slaughterhouse-Five and Catch-22….”
— Justin Taylor, Harper’s Magazine
Miljenko Jergovic, author of Sarajevo Marlboro, has written a powerful and moving meditation comparing and contrasting the international reaction to the siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War and the current and ongoing siege of Aleppo in Syria. You can read the full article here.
“In the summer of 1992, three or four months after the beginning of the siege…Sarajevo’s inhabitants believed that the president of the United States was lying awake in bed at night, thinking of our city.
Is this what the citizens of Aleppo are thinking today? Perhaps not so much. At the beginning of the 1990s, the United States was thought of in the eastern parts of Europe as an empire of freedom and justice. Today, people experience America differently…maybe, the citizens of Aleppo no longer even see America as the land of freedom. If that is so, then America is dying alongside them, because it cannot help.”
Our friends over at Words Without Borders have included our forthcoming Cockroaches by Scholastique Mukasonga and translated from the French by Jordan Stump as part of their October Watchlist. Cockroaches finds itself amongst many other exciting titles.
WWB books editor M Bartley Seigel writes of Cockroaches:
“At our best we bear witness to the horrors of the human condition with solemnity and respect that we might learn from our collective histories and move forward together with some hope for a shared future. That Mukasonga’s lyricism allows us to endure those troubling spaces with grace and wit is not just deeply moving, it’s a blessing.”
Check out the entire list over on WWB’s website.
You can read an excerpt of Cockroaches over at the Tin House blog here, and don’t miss the opportunity to see Scholastique speak in NYC November 7th at the 92Y, which you can find more information about here.
Our friends over at Asymptote have just published an extract of our forthcoming Wayward Heroes by Halldór Laxness and translated from the Icelandic by Philip Roughton. The novel by the only Icelandic Nobel Laureate is slated for release November 1st. You can read the full extract here.
Justin Taylor recently had this to say about Wayward Heroes in Harper’s Magazine:
“Brilliant, bleak, uproariously funny, and still alarmingly prescient, Wayward Heroes belongs in the pantheon of the antiwar novel alongside such touchstones as Slaughterhouse-Five and Catch-22.”
Here’s the beginning of the extract. You even have the option to read the original Icelandic on the Asymptote site if you should feel so inclined.
“Chieftain Vermundur had a kinsman named Bessi, the son of Halldór. He lived at Laugaból, a short distance from Vatnsfjörður. Bessi was highly versed in poetry and law and was popular with everyone, but not very well-to-do. He and Vermundur were not only related but also good friends—Bessi often accompanied Vermundur when he had business to attend to, either at the Alþingi or elsewhere. Bessi’s wife had passed away before this story begins, but he had a young son named Þormóður. The lad soon proved to be quick-witted, if somewhat sharp-tongued. From his father he learned poetry and other arts, and even at an early age could relate much lore of the Northern kings and jarls most intrepid in war and other noble pursuits, as well as of the Æsir, the Völsungar, the Ylfingar, and the renowned heroes who wrestled with ogresses. In addition, the lad had excellent knowledge of the great passions men shared with women in the world’s first days, when Brynhildur slept on the mountain, and he knew stories of the swans that flew from the south and alighted on the headlands, cast off their dresses, and spun men’s fates. What is more, he was fluent in the uncanny lore predicting the end of the peopled world and the twilight of the Gods.”
Our friends over at Tin House have published an excerpt from Scholastique Mukasonga’s upcoming Cockroaches, which is slated for release on the 25th of October and translated from the French by Jordan Stump. The extract is titled “1968-1971: A Humiliated Student,” and it deals with the narrator’s experience in school as a Tutsi, one of the persecuted groups in Rwanda…
“Arriving at the Lycée Notre-Dame-de-Cîteaux with the little card-board suitcase once used by my brother André, and then by Alexia, I was filled with hope and apprehension at the same time. My apprehensions were more than justified, but I never lost hope.
I’d seen violent and even deadly persecution in Nyamata, but the solidarity of the ghetto gave us the strength to endure it. At school, I would know the solitude of humiliation and rejection.
I hadn’t shed my Tutsi status when I crossed the Nyabarongo – anything but. And in any case, there was no way to hide it. Every student was issued an ID card marked with their so-called ethnic group, like a brand on a cow. When I was forced to show it to one of the sisters, her look and her attitude changed immediately: wariness, disdain, or hatred? I didn’t want to know. They also discovered that I came from Nyamata. I wasn’t only a Tutsi: I was an Inyenzi, one of those cockroaches they’d expelled from the livable part of Rwanda, and perhaps from the human race. Among my schoolmates, too, I soon came to feel different. Or rather, it was they who made that dif-ference cruelly clear to me. They made me ashamed of the color of my skin (not dark enough for their tastes), of my nose (too straight, they said), and of my hair (too much of it). It was my hair that caused me the most trouble. Evidently it was Ethiopian hair, irende, the sup-posed mark of the Inyenzi. I spent my time putting water on that Inyenzi hair so it would shrink down to a little ball, tight as a sponge. Most often, I resigned myself to shaving it off. That hurt me: in spite of the mockery, I was fond of my hair.”
Once again, you can read the excerpt in its entirety here.
Tristano Dies: A Life by Antonio Tabucchi and translated from the Italian by Elizabeth Harris has just been shortlisted for the 2016 Italian Prose in Translation Award.
Erik Noonan of Carte Blanche wrote that “Tabucchi’s sensuous and allusive prose dismantles our globalized moment and clears a space for Freedom to reside, in peace if not at ease. Elizabeth Harris’ translation expands the linguistic resources of fiction in English, much as the original text enriched the fictional landscape of Italy when it first appeared.”
You can read the full story here.
The Paris Review blog has published three selections today from our forthcoming Konundrum: Selected Prose of Franz Kafka, translated by Peter Wortsman. Nicole Rudick of The Paris Review writes that the “trio of prose nuggets” might be parables or something else entirely, but regardless they are enjoyable, and serve as a nice sampling of what’s in store for us from Wortsman’s selection. The buzz surrounding this release is building, with the BBC having praised Konundrum just last week, which you can read here. Konundrum is slated for publication on October 18th, and Wortsman will also be joining Geoffrey O’Brien in conversation at Community Bookstore in Brooklyn October 20th at 7 PM, which you can find more details about here.
The First Wife
by Paulina Chiziane
Translated from the Portuguese by David Brookshaw
Click here to download a PDF of this reading guide
- The novel opens with a Zambézian proverb: “A woman is earth. If you don’t sow her, or water her, she will produce nothing.” How does correlating the feminine with the natural impact the perception of women in society? Does this empower women or feed into patriarchal constructions of femininity? How?
- How do the different women in the story—Rami, Lu, Ju, Saly, and Mauá—cope with their disadvantaged social positions? How do their mothers and aunts cope?
- How do the institutions of polygamy and monogamy each define femininity? Do the definitions overlap?
- Many of the northern women who are proponents of polygamy consider southern women prudish and traditional to a fault. In what ways is monogamy an outdated notion?
- In the novel, the North is portrayed as a matriarchal culture where polygamy helps women maintain their status and ensures wellbeing. Does the institution of polygamy help or hurt the women in the story?
- At times it seems that Rami is breaking the chains of southern Mozambican patriarchy with radical and disobedient notions. Yet other times, she clings onto the status quo and is shocked when the northern women attempt to act beyond their restraints. Is Rami truly attempting to transcend cultural hegemony, or is she simply seeking revenge?
- Chiziane has said that “western medicine is almost mechanical, it treats the heart, the foot, the eye, while traditional medicine goes beyond.” How does traditional medicine function in the novel? Does it help Rami find peace in her marriage?
- In what ways do Rami’s problems change or develop and in what ways do they stay the same?
- How do Rami’s intentions morph as her relationship with Tony degenerates? Does she remain committed because of love, or something else?
- At what point does Rami fall out of love with Tony and why?
- Rami creates a working relationship with Tony’s other women and even helps them develop their entrepreneurial skills, yet she still refers to them as her rivals. Does Rami ever overcome this internalized misogyny, and how can we begin to interpret the complex relationships Rami holds with these other women?
- Does the novel’s resolution result from Rami and the other women taking initiative in their lives and marriage, or is it more a product of exterior cultural forces and Tony’s negligent behavior?
- Could Rami have moved on from her failing marriage without the child that resulted from her kutchingering? Would Tony let her leave otherwise?
- Chiziane criticizes Mozambique’s overall patriarchal societal structure yet holds on to other cultural precedents, such as the importance of traditional healers. How does Chiziane navigate the complex web that is tradition? What role do healers, potions, and spells play in the novel and how are they portrayed within the overarching patriarchal hegemony?
- Rami’s story is a very culturally specific one, but in what ways is The First Wife actually an ode to women everywhere?
Jane Ciabattari of the BBC chose Konundrum as one of the ten books you should read this September. Ciabattari praised translator Peter Wortsman’s “lucid and rhythmic” rendering of a selection of works by the classic author. Wortsman’s translation provides plenty of examples of the Kafkaesque, those strange and pregnant moments that stick with us after we put the book down. Calling Kafka’s stories still “powerfully resonant today,” Ciabattari goes on to say that Wortsman’s selection of pieces gives us both “a fresh look at classics like The Hunger Artist, In the Penal Colony, and Josephine, Our Meistersinger,” and new and fresh “surprises like Poseidon.”
You can read the article on the BBC website, and check out Konundrum, Selected Prose of Franz Kafka here.