Patty Nash of Asymptote interviewed me about my thoughts on translation as a social movement. Here’s an excerpt:
As I understand it, the fact that we have “movie stars” developed out of a need for movie studios to mitigate risk. Basically, there’s no way for us to tell if a movie’s any good before we see it, but we’ll pay for anything our favorite star is in. The story goes that translators get reduced to invisibility because of how publishers want to mitigate risk—as in, they see publishing translation as even more of a risk than publishing anything else, even though translations also come with sales figures in other languages—but it’s conceivable that it could work the same way as it does with movie stars. I know I’ve bought books by authors and poets I’ve never heard of because I trust the taste and style of Gregory Rabassa, Suzanne Jill Levine, Eliot Weinberger, Rosmarie Waldrop, Clayton Eshleman, John Nathan, Susan Bernofsky…
Click on the image above for the full interview.
Translators in the anglophone world are sometimes perceived as being on a “lower rung.” The essays in our book certainly don’t subscribe to that view. Would we say that an actor is on a lower rung than the screenwriter who wrote the lines the actor delivers? Or that the literary critic is on a lower rung than the writers whose works she analyzes? The contributors to our book all write and translate and have made careers that conjoin the two practices—that conjoining is what many of the essays we’ve included are fundamentally about.
Click the image above for the full interview.
October 17, at 7:00 PM at 110-112 West 27th Street, Manhattan, AAWW and Archipelago Books are hosting Fady Joudah, Sinan Antoon, Susan Bernofsky, Jeffrey Yang, and Ghassan Zaqtan for Translation Night, to “read literature spanning China and Japan to new innovations in Palestinian poetry, including work by Mahmoud Darwish and Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo [刘晓波].”
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The May 2012 newsletter is out from New Directions, with links and news about events, readings, and new publications, including celebrations of Kenneth Rexroth in Corte Madera and San Francisco, Nathaniel Tarn reading in Chicago and Ann Arbor, and a new book by by Robert Walser translated by Christopher Middleton with Susan Bernofsky, and of course Xi Chuan.
It’s nearing on old news by now, but I wanted to offer congratulations to my three friends whose translations have been selected among the six finalists for the 2012 Best Translated Book Award for Poetry (follow the link for a full list, including the ten fiction finalists):
Spectacle & Pigsty by Kiwao Nomura
Translated from the Japanese by Kyoko Yoshida and Forrest Gander
A Fireproof Box by Gleb Shulpyakov
Translated from the Russian by Christopher Mattison
False Friends by Uljana Wolf
Translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky
(Ugly Duckling Presse)
Good luck to all of you–I hope for a three-way tie.