The blog of The Mantle's founder, Shaun Randol, is a mixed bag. You'll find quick book reviews, pithy thoughts on arts and culture, musings on international affairs, interviews, and all sorts of miscellaneous contemplations. In short, there's no rhyme or reason or theme.
Poet, visionary, historian, chronicler of the forgotten, scorned, and oppressed. Eduardo Galeano held court to a packed auditorium at a PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature conversation held at The New School. The event was facilitated by Jessica Hagedorn.
Americans are way too flippant with their use of the word "hero." Professional sports players, first responders, soldiers, presidents, CEOs, and everyday folks (often doing everyday things) have all been called heroes. The accolade has been watered down so much it has lost all significance. Hero, then, is not a term I use loosely.
In my travels around the global literary scene, the question of a writerly identity has never seemed more precarious, conflicted, and urgent than with writers from Africa. More often than not, it is the writer—not the reader—who is fixated on the question: who or what is an African writer?
"We have a Cold War on the Russian soul," said Mikhail Shishkin. Lines are drawn, barricades are up. On one side are the nationalists and isolationists who proclaim Russia to be the center of the world and a power to be reckoned with. On the other side of the barricade are the internationalists who see affinity with Europe and a greater, global cosmopolitan attitude. These starkly drawn political lines extend into cultural spheres, bifurcating the Russian arts and cultural scene.
Shahrnush Parsipur’s writing career began in 1974 with the publication of her first novel, The Dog and the Long Winter. She's been in trouble with Iranian authorities ever since. Today, with more than twenty novels, short story collections, and translations under her belt, Parsipur lives in California. While she has always written in Persian and her fiction has always been about Iran, Parsipur does not consider herself to be a writer in exile.
Bravery comes in many forms. As Salman Rushdie said to me in an interview, and confirmed at the opening night of PEN World Voices Festival of Internatioanl Literature, the artist standing up to repression is just one kind of bravery. Another is the courage to create a new work of art and overcome technical or emotional challenges. And still, there are other forms of fearlessness and gallantry.
In advance of PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, I sat down with the scholar and translator Susan Bernofsky to discuss the art and technique of translating literature. PEN's Translation Committee, which Bernofsky chairs, has arranged for three translation related events at this year's festival.