In an interview with Julian Lucas for The White Review, Scholastique Mukasonga discusses – among other things – her movement from autobiography to fiction, and the historical and cultural contexts of colonialism, gender roles, and the Catholic Church in her writing about the Rwandan genocide. She also dwells on what it means to write Rwandan history in French, and the linguistic futures of emerging writers in her country. You can read the interview here, and an excerpt below:
“But I believe that I will never stop writing about Rwanda: there is so much more to write about this lost, murdered, recovering, reborn country. There are few Rwandan writers, and among them, even fewer women. I know my books are needed. It’s as though I receive orders from young Rwandans who thirst to rediscover a culture so long obscured and despised. Writing to meet their expectations has become a duty, but also a pleasure. All I have to do is dig into the trunk of my mother’s tales.”
On Tuesday, April 6th at 1:30 PM EST, Daniel Handler (best known as Lemony Snicket) will host a virtual discussion with Turning the Page DC about Elsewhere Editions‘ IWish, written by Toon Tellegen and illustrated by Ingrid Godon, translated from the Dutch by David Colmer. Daniel Handler will share his reflections on I Wish and on the work of Takoma Park Education Campus’s fifth graders, who created poems and drawings inspired by the story. The event is co-hosted by the DC Public Library and sponsored in part by the Dutch Culture USA Never Grow Up! Program, a part of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the United States.
DanielHandler is a contemporary American novelist, best known by his pen name Lemony Snicket. He is widely known for his 13-book collection A Series of Unfortunate Events, which has also been adapted into a film and a television series. Alongside the collection, his other major works include Adverbs, a book of short stories, and Bottle Grove, a dark comedy and the most recent of his publications. His books have sold more than 70 million copies and have been translated into 40 languages.
The prize, which has been awarded since 2008, was created to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir (1908–1986). It honors individuals and associations who, in the spirit of Simone de Beauvoir, fight to defend women’s rights wherever they are comprised.
Born in Rwanda, Scholastique Mukasonga makes history as the first African woman to be honored with the human rights prize. Please join us in celebrating her incredible accomplishment.
Jennifer Shyue, translator of Julia Wong Kcomt’s forthcoming Bi-rey-nato, reflects on the different layers of her identity as a Taiwanese-American translator of Spanish. She writes about belonging and/or not belonging in many different cultures, about trying to explain her “hyphenation” to her mother, and about the double-edged sword that is the concept of “a mother tongue.” Read her poignant essay on The Common.
Jennifer Shyue is a translator focusing on contemporary Cuban and Asian-Peruvian writers. Her work has been supported by grants from Fulbright, Princeton University, and the University of Iowa and has appeared in 91st Meridian, The Offing, Hyperallergic, and elsewhere. Her translation of Julia Wong Kcomt’s Bi-rey-nato is forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse’s Señal chapbook series. She can be found on the web at shyue.co.
Jean-Patrick Manchette (1942–1995) was a genre-redefining French crime novelist, screenwriter, critic, and translator. Born in Marseille to a family of relatively modest means, Manchette grew up in a southwestern suburb of Paris, where he wrote from an early age. As Nicholson-Smith writes: “Today Jean-Patrick Manchette is widely thought by the French not only to have transformed (and radicalized) the crime novel but also to have considerably blurred the dividing line between genre and properly “literary” fiction. Just recently, marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of his untimely death from cancer in 1995, the publication of a sturdy volume of his correspondence has unleashed a storm of new attention to his achievement.”
Donald Nicholson-Smith was born in Manchester, England and is a longtime resident of New York City. His translations, ranging from psychoanalysis and social criticism to crime fiction, include works by Thierry Jonquet, Guy Debord, Paco Ignacio Taibo II, Henri Lefebvre, Raoul Vaneigem, Antonin Artaud, Jean Laplanche, and J.B. Pontalis. His translation of Apollinaire’s Letters to Madeleine was shortlisted for the 2012 French-American Foundation Prize for Nonfiction and in 2014 he won the Foundation’s Fiction Prize for his translation of Jean-Patrick Manchette’s The Mad and the Bad. His translation of In Praise of Defeat by Abdellatif Laâbi was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2017.
Scholastique Mukasonga spoke with Kaiama L. Glover about her new collection of short stories, Igifu. Glover is the Ann Whitney Olin Professor of French & Africana Studies at Barnard College and Faculty Director of the Barnard Digital Humanities Center. Her teaching and research focuses on francophone Caribbean literature and postcolonialism, among other topics.
This week, Bomb Magazine published an interview of José Eduardo Agualusa by Bibi Deitz. They talk about Agualusa’s novel, The Society of Reluctant Dreamers, and how dreams, social movements, and photography all affect his writing. As Deitz notes in her introduction to the interview: “To read José Eduardo Agualusa is less like being transported to another world and more like getting thrown into the very real world in which we live: The colors are brighter, the sun beats a bit hotter, and people let their dreams affect them more acutely.”
You can read the interview on Bomb’s website, here.
José Eduardo Agualusa was born in Huambo, Angola in 1960. He studied agronomy and forestry in Lisbon before he began his work as a writer. His novel Creole was awarded the Portuguese Grand Prize for Literature, and he received the U.K.’s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for The Book of Chameleons in 2007. He and his translator, Daniel Hahn, won the 2017 Dublin Literary Award for A General Theory of Oblivion and in 2019, he won Angola’s most prestigious literary prize, the National Prize for Culture and Arts.
Bibi Deitz lives and writes in Brooklyn, and recently finished her first novel; more at bibideitz.com.
Scholastique Mukasonga discusses her new book of autobiographical stories, Igifu, in conversation with Maaza Mengiste. Hosted by the Transnational Literature Series at Brookline Booksmith, this virtual event was originally recorded on September 30, 2020. You can watch the conversation at the link below.
Scholastique Mukasonga joined Martha Cooley at the Community Bookstore to present her new story collection, Igifu. You can watch the conversation – beautifully interpreted by Ellen Sowchek – at the link below.
The autobiographical stories in Igifu rend a glorious Rwanda from the obliterating force of recent history, conjuring the noble cows of her home or the dew-swollen grass they graze on. In the title story, five-year-old Colomba is rescued from merciless igifu, or hunger, by her mother’s healing porridge. This elixir courses through each story, a balm to soothe the pains of those so ferociously fighting for survival.
Martha Cooley is a contributing editor at A Public Space, a professor of English at Adelphi University, and a co-translator of work by Antonio Tabucchi.
Ellen Sowchek is a French-English translator and interpreter. This is her third time interpreting for an event at the Community Bookstore.