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In a book review published by the Wall Street Journal this week, Sam Sacks considers the second installment of Lojze Kovačič’s Newcomers translated by Michael Biggins. The review can be found here in full. The following is excerpted from the piece:
The second volume of Lojze Kovacic’s absorbing wartime chronicle “Newcomers” (Archipelago, 384 pages, $22) now arrives, continuing the remembrances of the autobiographical narrator, Bubi. Book One, published in 1984 (and in English in 2016), recounted Bubi’s family’s expulsion from Switzerland to the Slovene territory of Yugoslavia at the outbreak of World War II. The second installment, again translated from the Slovenian by Michael Biggins, follows the young man’s adolescence in Ljubljana during the war years. As before, the piquant particularities of childhood are set before a backdrop of global confrontation. Bubi tells of his schooldays, his troublemaking with friends and his sexual awakening while, all around him, running battles between Yugoslav partisans and Nazi occupiers are waged in the streets.
Book Two deepens one’s appreciation for Kovacic’s major stylistic gambit, his prolific use of the ellipsis. Recalling his first visit to the opera house, Bubi is awestruck by “the tiers of balconies . . . all the way up to the ceiling . . . the white, bulging loges like cells of a beehive with gilt ornamentation. And the gigantic crowns of the chandeliers suspended in air . . . But most of all the silence . . .” The punctuation has the twofold effect of reflecting gaps in memory while conveying a feeling of constant anticipation for whatever might appear next.
Ultimately, “Newcomers” crystallizes into a classic artist’s coming-of-age story, as Bubi is drawn to painting and then writing, where, as in this rich and fascinating novel, he will search for a way to synthesize the enchantments of youth with the hard realities of the war.
Krishna Baldev Vaid, the celebrated author of novels such as The Broken Mirror and Steps in Darkness, as well as numerous short stories, plays, diaries, works of literary criticism, and translations, died February 6, 2020. Throughout his life, Vaid wrote and taught at a variety of universities in both India and the United States. His novels and stories have been translated into many languages, Vaid himself having translated some of his own works, such as Steps in Darkness, into English. His prose was known for its experimental and distinctive narrative style. As Vaid said, his stories were not “mere stories” but created “an alternative reality … a universe of words and sounds and suggestions.”
Please read more about Vaid’s life and legacy here and in LitHub’s remembrance of Krishna Baldev Vaid, at this link.
“An elusive puppeteer, a wizard behind a curtain, someone heard but not seen.” Katherine Silver thus describes her work as a translator in a recent interview with The Believer. Silver translated Juan Carlos Onetti’s A Dream Come True which Archipelago published this fall.
“Language-based artistic activity is not self-expression, even if it does start with that as a spark, an initial impulse, but…it then must dive deeply into the only true commons we have, language, and from there craft something beyond the self.” Read more at the link below!
We are delighted to announce that José Eduardo Agualusa has been awarded the Angolan National Prize for Culture and Arts in the category of literature!
The jury calls Agualusa’s career “extensive and vital”: according to the jury-members, Agualusa “approaches the fundamental social and political issues of this time in a reflective and controversial way. Hence, his work has contributed both to the emancipation of his readers as well as the strengthening of citizenship and freedom of expression”. More information can be found here.
Angel Gurría-Quintana writes in The Financial Times: [If] a man with a good story is practically a king, then Agualusa can count himself among the continent’s new royals”. Malcolm Forbes calls A General Theory of Oblivion “a powerful examination of personal recollection and public upheaval, and a penetrating study of isolation and the cost of freedom”.
You can pre-order Agualusa’s new book, The Society of Reluctant Dreamers, here. It will be out on March 10th, 2020.
We are so pleased to announce that The Barefoot Woman is a finalist for the National Book Award in Translated Literature! We are so proud of Scholastique Mukasonga and Jordan Stump, who translated the book from the original French.
The National Book Award judges have selected The Barefoot Woman alongside four other beautiful works of translation. You can see the full list of finalists at the National Book Foundation’s website.
Zadie Smith calls The Barefoot Woman “a powerful work of witness and memorial, a loving act of reconstruction, and an unflinching reckoning with the Rwandan Civil War.” Julian Lucas writes in the New York Times, that Mukasonga “turns everything over restlessly: In her prose, poignant reminiscences sharpen into bitter ironies, or laments reveal flashes of comedy, determination, defiance.”
We’re enormously grateful to PEN America and the Translation Prize judges, Ezra Fitz, Barbara Harshav, Vincent Kling, Marian Schwartz, and Ron Slate, who wrote, “What we have, in the end, with Love, is an extraordinary translation of an uncannily singular novel, one which the judges will be savoring for many years to come.”
In these times, when xenophobic ideas are on the rise and new borders are being constructed, it is essential to hear from artists and writers whose ideas question our assumptions and expose us to new cultures, communities, and literary traditions. Archipelago Books is grateful to be among the many vital nonprofits benefiting from over $25 million in grants from the NEA this year, and we’re also thankful to have received funding from the NEA for over a decade. (Do visit the NEA’s website to learn more about the organizations they’re funding this year.) We thank you, NEA!
We rely on grants and the generosity of our community to help us carry out our mission. If you’d like to support Archipelago Books, please make a donation today or email us for details about book sponsorships.
We’re delighted to announce that Love by Hanne Ørstavik and translated by Martin Aitken has been selected as a finalist for the 2019 PEN Translation Prize!
We’re grateful to be recognized by PEN, and we’re honored to see Love included among many other wondrous and deserving books! The Translation Prize is awarded each year to “a book-length translation of prose from any language into English published in 2018.” You can learn more about the PEN Literary Awards and see the full list of Finalists at PEN’s website.
Love, which was also a finalist for the National Book Award, has been hailed as an “electrifying novel” (The New York Times Book Review) and a “haunting masterpiece” (Publishers Weekly). Order your copy from our bookstore today!
On For Isabel judges Geoffrey Brock, Peter Constantine, and Sarah Stickney wrote:
“Tabucchi creates an intricate web that connects past to present, dream-life to waking. The book is filled with evocative images that seem to float free of mere plot constraints…Harris carries the delicate magic of consciousness from Italian into English with deceptive ease. She works with admirable precision to capture the voices of the different speakers and the details of the shifting context, yet she never sacrifices the dreamy texture of the writing.”
Elizabeth Harris’s translations from Italian include Mario Rigoni Stern’s novel Giacomo’s Seasons (Autumn Hill Books), Giulio Mozzi’s story collection This Is the Garden (Open Letter Books), and Antonio Tabucchi’s novel Tristano Dies (also with Archipelago Books). Her awards include a 2013 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant and the 2016 National Translation Award for Prose, both for Tabucchi’s Tristano Dies. She lives with her family in a small town in Wisconsin, along the Mississippi.