Several months ago I heard a famous literary translator give a talk about the difference between translating and being a translator. The former is the process of taking a text in one language and putting it into another. The latter is everything that comes with doing translation as a profession: building relationships with writers, researching book markets, selling to publishers, promoting books you've published, the list goes on. For a new literary translator like me, the message was clear: there’s a lot more to being a translator than you think.
Shane Salerno's new documentary on the genius recluse that was J.D. Salinger.
Will this doc really answer any questions as to what made a man like Salinger close himself off completely after his greatest work? Unless Ed Norton and Danny Devito somehow had underground pow wows with the man, that more than likely is asking a bit too much.
Salinger diehards will surely salivate for this as they would any touchstone on the cryptic narrative of one of America's most celebrated and elusive figures.
However, what most certainly would trump this and have people really flipping like Gabby Douglas would be if anybody could ever turn Catcher in the Rye into an actual film.
Harvey Weinstein already came this far. Is one magic rabbit trick really much harder?
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I sometimes try to stop and feel the pain of people reviewing translations. Knowing that the translation is a key part of the text, but rarely able to read the original, reviewers must make educated guesses about what the translator has done right or wrong, and what has been added or subtracted. This is a challenge: do you credit the author with structure, characterization, and pace, and credit the translator with the flow and musicality of the prose? It’s rarely so simple—indeed, a poor translation can cause structural problems with a book.
Saturday, May 04, 2013, 5:00pm
Cooper Union: Frederick P. Rose Auditorium 41 Cooper Square, New York, NY 10003
Saturday afternoon's event, moderated by Peter Godwin, took its time in unfolding a series of observations regarding the current state of South African society and the remnants of Apartheid, which "ended" nearly twenty years ago.
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?
Thursday, May 02, 2013, 6:30pm
The New School: Tishman Auditorium 66 West 12th St., New York, NY 10011
On Thursday night we were offered a fascinating glimpse into the renowned writer, Jamaica Kincaid. Keeping within PEN's theme of bravery, the evening's topics ranged widely from the novel, memory, the event, landscape, marriage, writing to the colonial mindset, but I want to focus on one particular thread that ran throughout and perhaps touches on a number of the topics I have just listed: curiosity.
"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.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 1:00pm
The Library at The Public Theater 425 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10003