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.
Ludvík Vaculík’s novel The Guinea Pigs is charming and unsettling at the same time. From the outset, Vaculík disarms the reader by treating the tale as if it were being read to us by a parent at bedtime. “Our family,” the protagonist tells us, “is originally from the country.
By the time this panel comes to life I’m on my fourth session in a row at the same international stage. I’m beginning to wonder what else is going on at Brooklyn Book Festival 2010 that I might be missing. A glance at the schedule: somewhere Paul Auster is yukking it up with the harebrained poet John Ashbery, Roseanne Cash holds court a couple hundred feet to my right, and nine other events are scattered here and there. The rain has paused, for the moment, and there’s no place I’d rather be.
A stalwart advocate for freedom of speech, Taslima Nasrin is an exiled political and artistic refugee who has had her share of literary revenge. Despite her work being banned in Bangladesh and India, and even as multiple fatwas have called for her head, she continues to write, speak out, and win awards around the world. Her latest North American release, Revenge (Feminist Press, 2010), is a short novel whose title, in keeping with the life of its author, promises struggle and ready action.