Our friends over at Words Without Borders have included our forthcoming Cockroachesby 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.”
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 Asymptotehave 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.
“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 extract 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.
Loren Kleinman, author and contributing writer to The Huffington Post, sat down with Sean Cotter to discuss his initial reactions and process of translating the Mircea Cărtărescu’s Blinding from Romanian to English.
“I decided to translate Blinding after providing a sample for a publisher. Only the first chapter—before doing the sample, I hadn’t read any further. But there is an arresting moment near the beginning, when the narrator looks out his window over Bucharest as a storm passes, and the sun penetrates the crack between the grey of the buildings and the charcoal of the clouds. Once I found the English for the colors of the sun dazzling the horizon, I felt I could translate the novel. I read the book after I signed the contract, and I discovered that I had had no idea how demanding the rest of the book would be, how horrifying and how sublime.”
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.”
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.
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.
Antonio Tabucchi’s novel, Tristano Dies: A Life, translated from the Italian by Elizabeth Harris, was recently longlisted for the 2016 National Translation Award in Prose. Hailed by Necessary Fiction as “mesmerizing,” Tristano Dies is the story of Tristano, a hero of the Italian Resistance. As he lies on his deathbed, Tristano tells his life’s story to a writer, detailing heroic deeds and horrific betrayals.
The NTA shortlists will be announced in September, and the winners in early October. You can read more about the prize and take a look at the other nominated titles here.
Don Bartlett, translator of the My Struggle series, discusses the “tension between being true to the original [work] and being readable,” Melanie Mauthner divulges how she translates Scholastique Mukasonga, and others dive into the artistry behind translating a piece of foreign fiction.
A jury of 18 leading Slovene literary critics and historians chose Lojze Kovačič as the outstanding Slovene novelist since Slovenia achieved its independence in 1991. Kovačič’s 1991 novel, Time of Crystal, was chosen among the top 25 novels that have been awarded the annual Kresnik prize from 1991-2016 and deemed the Kresnik of Kresniks.