Posted on

Dreams Are Instruments of Liberation: José Eduardo Agualusa interviewed in Bomb Magazine

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

Posted on

Karthika Naïr’s Until the Lions in the New York Review of Books

A purpley maroon book cover with a black and white photo of ruins centered on the front

A purpley maroon book cover with a black and white photo of ruins centered on the frontDavid Shulman has written a thoughtful and engrossing paean to Karthika Naïr’s Until the Lions in the September 24th issue of the New York Review of Books.  Shulman’s piece situates Naïr’s work in the long and intricate history of the Mahabharata, praising Until the Lions for its nimble play of poetic forms and deep emotional register, as well as Naïr’s inventive reconstruction  of the Mahabharata’s less-sung stories. You can find the review here, and read an excerpt below:

The most lyrical of all such attempts to see the Mahabharata through the eyes of its characters is the remarkable dramatic poem Until the Lions by the Kerala-born, Paris-based poet, dance producer, and librettist Karthika Naïr. She has given her book an appropriate subtitle: “Echoes from the Mahabharata.” The thirty haunting, heartrending chapters, in a wide range of forms and styles, resonate powerfully with one another…

Nearly all the chapters are first-person dramatic monologues uttered by female characters known from the Mahabharata (with the exception of one newly invented voice, that of the clairvoyant canine Shunaka, who reembodies the speaking dog Sarama mentioned at the very beginning, or one of the beginnings, of the epic). The female voices are, almost without exception, tormented, ravaged, grief-stricken, bitterly lamenting the irrevocable, unthinkable losses that their fathers, husbands, brothers, brothers-in-law, lovers, and sons have inflicted on them. I don’t think I have ever seen a description of rape as unflinching as Sauvali’s rage at King Dhritarashtra and the configuration of sycophantic politicians and courtiers who force her to submit to him. Sauvali exemplifies a prominent pattern in these chapters: women whose names are known from the Sanskrit epic but whose character and inner experience are muted there suddenly come to life as full-blooded people caught up in the destruction endemic to a male world (well, maybe to any human world)…

Karthika, in the voice of Uttaraa, has articulated something I remember all too well from my own wartime service in Lebanon. Among the soldiers in my unit, only one, I think—our gung-ho commanding officer—identified with the specious rhetoric coming at us from the politicians back home in Jerusalem. Karthika’s Mahabharata is, among other things, a passionate antiwar manifesto; she and her characters are sensitive to the perversion of language that is always needed to generate more dead heroes, and to the cost borne by those who survive…

This is a Mahabharata for our generation. It includes stories that have attached themselves to the classical epic via local, regional traditions…Her poems share the kaleidoscopic quality of the epic text, its persistent, dizzying perspectivism as it moves from one episode to the next, one ardent speaker to another.

One could also see the Mahabharata, as the anthropologist Don Handelman has suggested, as a vast laboratory for existential experiment, in which the great themes and above all the ethical quandaries of a civilization can be brought to light, played out, and examined. Such themes are not abstract entities but lived human realities, mostly agonizing and opaque, eluding any simple or, indeed, possible resolution. From a point somewhere deep within this laboratory, Karthika Naïr has captured in words the tonality of this mammoth text.

The Widows’ Laments

Posted on

Brave Girls From Rwanda: Interview with Scholastique Mukasonga

Scholastique Mukasonga was interviewed by the Institute Français at the Beyond Words French Literature Festival in May. You can watch her discuss her first novel, Our Lady of the Nile at the link below, along with two readings from the book, in both French and English.

Set in a small, prestigious Catholic boarding school for the wealthy and well-connected, Our Lady of the Nile weaves together stories of girlhood with the particular history of Rwanda. Mukasonga transforms the lycée into a microcosm of the country’s mounting racial tensions and violence leading up to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Watch here.

Posted on

Elias Khoury’s “This Is Not Beirut” in The Paris Review

Elias Khoury, author of Gate of the Sun, White Masks, and As Though She Were Sleeping, responds in The Paris Review Daily to the recent explosion in Beirut that has killed over 150 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless. Read “This Is Not Beirut,” translated from Arabic by Humphrey Davies, here.


This Is Not Beirut

Posted on

The Farm is longlisted for the Dublin Literary Award!

Hector Abad’s The Farm, translated by Anne McLean, has been longlisted for the 2020 International Dublin Literary Award!

Héctor Abad is one of Colombia’s leading writers. Born in 1958, he grew up in Medellín, where he studied medicine, philosophy and journalism. In 1987, his father was murdered by Colombian paramilitaries, an event he reflected on 20 years later in Oblivion: A Memoir (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2012), which earned widespread critical acclaim as well as the WOLA-Duke Book Award. Abad has worked as a lecturer in Spanish at the University of Verona and as a translator of Italian literature.  Abad writes a weekly column for Colombia’s national newspaper El Espectador. The Farm won the 2015 Cálamo Prize in Spain and was shortlisted for the Mario Vargas Llosa Prize.

Anne McLean has translated works by Javier Cercas, Evelio Rosero, Juan Gabriel Vázquez, Ignacio Martinez de Pisón, Carmen Martín Gaite, Enrique Vila-Matas, and Héctor Abad, as well as Autonauts of the CosmorouteDiary of Andrés Fava and From the Observatory by Julio Cortázar. Twice-winner of both the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Premio Valle-Inclán, McLean won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Awards in 2014 with Juan Gabriel Vázquez.

See more details on the award here.






Posted on

Donald Nicholson-Smith and Caleb Crain converse about Treasure of the Spanish Civil War

Donald Nicholson-Smith, translator of Serge Pey’s Treasure of the Spanish Civil War, read from his translation and conversed with Caleb Crain about genre, immigration, magical realism, anarchism, and more at a recent Zoom talk hosted by Community Bookstore. Watch a recording of the conversation below.

Donald Nicholson-Smith has translated works by Antonin Artaud, Jean Laplanche, and J. B. Pontalis, among other writers. His translation of In Praise of Defeat by Abdellatif Laâbi was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2017.

Posted on

Scholastique Mukasonga in The New Yorker

Igifu, translated by Jordan Stump, available now

“How can you mourn your loved ones when they have no graves? How can you mourn without allowing them to sink into oblivion—a second death, for which you are then responsible?” These are the questions that drive Scholastique Mukasonga’s short story, Grief, an excerpt from Igifu appearing in The New Yorker this weekMukasonga discusses Grief and more in an interview with Deborah Treisman.

“On TV, on the radio, they never called it genocide. As if that word were reserved. Too serious. Too serious for Africa. Yes, there were massacres, but there were always massacres in Africa. And these massacres were happening in a country that no one had ever heard of. A country that no one could find on a map. Tribal hatred, primitive, atavistic hatred: nothing to understand there. ‘Weird stuff goes on where you come from,’ people would tell her.”

Read more of Grief at this link, and Mukasonga’s interview, here.

Posted on

Translators Aloud shines light on literary translators

Translators Aloud, a new YouTube channel created by translators Charlotte Coombe and Tina Kover, brings translators out from behind the curtain with videos featuring translators reading short excerpts from their work. Below, watch and hear Daniel Hahn, translator of José Eduardo Agualusa’s The Society of Reluctant Dreamers, read from his translation of Julián Fuks’ Resistance.

Posted on

Daniel Hahn discusses The Society of Reluctant Dreamers with Malaprop’s Bookstore

Daniel Hahn, who translated José Eduardo Agualusa’s The Society of Reluctant Dreamers from the original Portuguese, was interviewed via videoconference by Justin Souther, Malaprop’s Senior Buyer and Bookstore Manager in late April. Hahn has written numerous books of nonfiction and has translated the works of Juan Pablo Villalobos, Fernando Vilela, Julián Fuks, and Carola Saavedra, among others.  You can watch Daniel and Justin’s conversation below.

Posted on

Our Free Ebook Library: An Update

We have added 20 additional titles to our free ebook library! These plus our original 30 free ebooks will be available until May 20th without charge.

Our newly added titles:

The Flying Creatures of Fra Angelico by Antonio Tabucchi, trans. by Tim Parks
The Exploded View by Ivan Vladislavić
Wayward Heroes by Halldór Laxness, trans. by Philip Roughton
A Change of Time by Ida Jessen, trans. by Martin Aitken
Dreams and Stones by Magdalena Tulli, trans. by Bill Johnston
My Kind of Girl by Buddhadeva Bose, trans. by Arunava Sinha
Dance on the Volcano by Marie Vieux-Chauvet, trans. by Kaiama L. Glover
Seraphin by Philippe Fix, trans. by Donald Nicholson-Smith
A Kitchen in the Corner of the House by Ambai, trans. by Lakshmi Holmström
A Wheel With a Single Spoke by Nichita Stănescu, trans. by Sean Cotter

The Gothamites by Eno Raud, art by Priit Pärn, trans. by Adam Cullen
Hīznobyūtī by Claude Ponti, trans. by Alyson Waters
Hyperion by Friedrich Hölderlin, trans. by Ross Benjamin
Small Lives by Pierre Michon, trans. by Elizabeth Deshays, Jody Gladding
Emblems of Desire by Maurice Scève, trans. by Richard Sieburth
Wolf Hunt by Ivailo Petrov, trans. by Angela Rodel
Landscape with Yellow Birds by José Ángel Valente, trans. by Thomas Christensen
Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga, trans. by Melanie Mauthner
All One Horse by Breyten Breytenbach, trans. by Breyten Breytenbach
Blinding by Mircea Cărtărescu, trans. by Sean Cotter

The original list:

Bacacay by Witold Gombrowicz, trans. by Bill Johnston
Sarajevo Marlboro by Miljenko Jergović, trans. by Stela Tomasevic
Private Life by Josep Maria de Sagarra, trans. by Mary Ann Newman
A Useless Man: Selected Stories by Sait Faik Abasıyanık, trans. by Alexander Dawe and Maureen Freely
Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga, trans. by Melanie Mauthner
The Farm by Héctor Abad, trans. by Anne McLean
Absolute Solitude by Dulce María Loynaz, trans. by James O’Connor
A General Theory of Oblivion by José Eduardo Agualusa, trans. by Daniel Hahn
Eline Vere by Louis Couperus, trans. by Ina Rilke
The Waitress Was New by Dominique Fabre, trans. by Jordan Stump
The Expedition to the Baobab Tree by Wilma Stockenström, trans. by J.M. Coetzee
A Dream in Polar Fog by Yuri Rytkheu, trans. by Ilona Yazhbin Chavasse
Diaries of Exile by Yannis Ritsos, trans. by Edmund Keeley and Karen Emmerich
Gate of the Sun by Elias Khoury, trans. by Humphrey Davies
The Woman of Porto Pim by Antonio Tabucchi, trans. by Tim Parks
Newcomers by Lojze Kovačič, trans. by Michael Biggins
The Novices of Sais by Novalis, trans. by Ralph Manheim
Stone Upon Stone by Wiesław Myśliwski, trans. by Bill Johnston
The Scent of Buenos Aires by Hebe Uhart, trans. by Maureen Shaughnessy
In Praise of Defeat by Abdellatif Laâbi, trans. by Donald Nicholson-Smith
Good Will Come from the Sea by Christos Ikonomou, trans. by Karen Emmerich
Distant Light by Antonio Moresco, trans. by Richard Dixon
Book of My Mother by Albert Cohen, trans. by Bella Cohen
Tranquility by Attila Bartis, trans. by Imre Goldstein
Posthumous Papers of a Living Author by Robert Musil, trans. by Peter Wortsman
Mouroir by Breyten Breytenbach
The Folly by Ivan Vladislavić
For Isabel: A Mandala by Antonio Tabucchi, trans. by Elizabeth Harris
Lenz by Georg Büchner, trans. by Richard Sieburth
The Child Poet by Homero Aridjis, trans. by Chloe Aridjis