April 2016: What’s New in Translation!

Compiled by Carrina LaCorata and Maggie Zebracka.

A Contrived World by Jung Young-MoonA Contrived World
Translated from Korean by Jeffrey Karvonen & Mah Eunji
Published on: April 29, 2016

Set in San Francisco, A Contrived World recounts the author’s visit to the mythic Californian city. While the novel is based in this real experience, the narrator’s imaginative reflections cause the narrative to balloon outward into the realms of fiction and fantasy. Each chance encounter provides an opportunity to unfurl a fictional world that simultaneously complements and compromises the real world. In this mirthful anti-novel, the ambiguous fusion of observation and invention disrupts the conventions of personal memoir and travel writing, resulting in a chronicle that sets fiction against experience.
– Dalkey Archive Press

Novelist, short-story writer, translator, playwright, and teacher, Jung Young-Moon was born in Hamyang, South Korea, in 1965. He graduated from Seoul National University with a degree in psychology. He made his literary debut in 1996 when his novel A Man Who Barely Exists. He has also translated more than forty English books into Korean.

Translators’ bios not available. 

 

The EncounterThe Encounter by Gabriela Adamesteanu
Translated from Romanian by Alistair Ian Blyth
Published on: April 29, 2016

Pushed around by ticket takers who demand his ticket in several languages, a middle aged man goes through a nightmare of hiding and getting away until he manages to cross a frontier guarded by soldiers and dogs. He’s made it back to his native village. There he finds his whole family gathered around a big table, as if for a wedding, a baptism or a wake, but no one recognizes him, not even his mother.
– Dalkey Archive Press

Gabriela Adameșteanu is a novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist, and translator. She is the author of the acclaimed novels The Equal Way of Every Day and Wasted Morning, and is the editor of Revista 22.

A native of Sunderland, England, Alistair Ian Blyth has resided for many years in Bucharest. His many translations from Romanian include: Little Fingers by Filip Florian; Our Circus Presents by Lucian Dan Teodorovici; Occurrence in the Immediate Unreality by Max Blecher; and Coming from an Off-Key Time by Bogdan Suceava.

 

Escape Attempt by Miguel Ángel Hernández     Escape Attempt
Translated from Spanish by Rhett McNeil
Published on: April 12, 2016

Marcos is a student of Fine Arts. When Jacobo Montes, the social artist of the hour, arrives to Murcia, he becomes his assistant and helps him set up his transgressive piece of art for the city. But Montes’ methods border on the unacceptable, and when theory is turned to practice, things run the risk of getting out of hand.
– Hispabooks Publishing

Miguel Ángel Hernández is an associate professor of Art History at the University of Murcia (Spain), writer and art critic. He is currently a fellow of the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University.

Rhett McNeilis a faculty associate at the College of Letters & Sciences at Arizona State University. He is a scholar, critic, and literary translator from Texas.

 

Gilgamesh's SnakeGilgameshs Snake and Other Poems by Ghareeb Iskander
Translated from Arabic by John Glenday and Ghareeb Iskander
Published on April 15, 2016

The Epic of Gilgamesh is perhaps the greatest surviving work of early Mesopotamian literature. According to legend, Gilgamesh built the city walls of Uruk, modern-day Iraq, to protect his people from external threats. Although the epic records events from more than four thousand years ago, those events echo many of the social and cultural concerns of Iraq today.

In this luminous bilingual collection of poems, Ghareeb Iskander offers a personal response to the epic. Iskander’s modern-day Gilgamesh is a nameless Iraqi citizen who witnessed the fall of the dictatorship, who exists in a constant state of threat, and who dreams, not about eternity, but simply about life. While Gilgamesh was searching for the elixir of life, Iskander’s hero is searching for consolation.
– Syracuse University Press

Ghareeb Iskander is an Iraqi poet living in London. He has published numerous collection s of poems, including A Chariot of Illusion. His critical work includes Semiotic Trends in the Critique of Arab Poetry.

John Glenday is an award-winning Scottish poet and translator. He is the author of several poetry collections, including Grain and Undark.

 

Hill by Jean GionoHill
Translated from French by Paul Eprile
Published on: April 5, 2016

Deep in Provence, a century ago, four stone houses perch on a hillside. Wildness presses in from all sides. Beyond a patchwork of fields, a mass of green threatens to overwhelm the village. The animal world—a miming cat, a malevolent boar—displays a mind of its own.

The four houses have a dozen residents—and then there is Gagou, a mute drifter. Janet, the eldest of the men, is bedridden; he feels snakes writhing in his fingers and speaks in tongues. Even so, all is well until the village fountain suddenly stops running. From this point on, humans and the natural world are locked in a life-and-death struggle. All the elements—fire, water, earth, and air—come into play.

From an early age, Jean Giono roamed the hills of his native Provence. He absorbed oral traditions and, at the same time, devoured the Greek and Roman classics. Hill, his first novel and the first winner of the Prix Brentano, comes fully back to life in Paul Eprile’s poetic translation.
– NYRB Classics

Jean Giono (1895–1970) was born and lived most of his life  in the town of Manosque, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. Largely self-educated, he started working as a bank clerk at the age of sixteen and reported for military service when World War I broke out. He fought in the battle of Verdun and was one of the few members of his company to survive. After the war, he returned  to his job and family in Manosque and became a vocal, lifelong pacifist. After the success of Hill, which won the Prix Brentano, he left the bank and began to publish prolifically. During World War II Giono’s outspoken pacifism led some to accuse him unjustly of collaboration with the Nazis; after France’s liberation in 1944, he was imprisoned and held without charges. Despite being blacklisted after his release, Giono continued writing and was elected to the Académie Goncourt in 1954.

Paul Eprile is a longtime publisher (Between the Lines, Toronto), as well as a poet and translator. He is currently at work on the translation of Jean Giono’s novel Melville (forthcoming from NYRB) and lives on the Niagara Escarpment in Ontario, Canada.

 

HousesHouses by Borislav Pekić
Translated from Serbo-Croatian by Bernard Johnson
Published on: April 5, 2016

Building can be seen as a master metaphor for modernity, which some great irresistible force, be it Fascism or Communism or capitalism, is always busy rebuilding, and Houses is a book about a man, Arsénie Negovan, who has devoted his life and his dreams to building.

Bon vivant, Francophile, visionary, Negovan spent the first half of his life building houses he loved and even named—Juliana, Christina, Agatha—while making his hometown of Belgrade into a modern city to be proud of. The second half of his life, after World War II and the Nazi occupation, he has spent in one of those houses, looked after by his wife and a nurse, in hiding. Housesis set on the final day of his life, when Negovan at last ventures forth to see the world as it is.

Negovan is one of the great characters in modern fiction, a man of substance and a deluded fantasist, a beguiling visionary and a monster of selfishness, a charmer no matter what. And perhaps he is right to fear that home is only an illusion in our world, or that only in illusion is there home.
– NYRB Classics

Borislav Pekić (1930–1992) was born in Montenegro and educated in Belgrade, where he was arrested in 1948 for his founding role in the Association of Democratic Youth of Yugoslavia and sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor. Though he contracted tuberculosis during the five years of the term he eventually served, he was able during this period to draft extensive outlines for future writings, including the family tree of the protagonist of Houses. After studying psychology at the University of Belgrade, Pekić worked as a screenwriter, collaborating on more than twenty scripts, among them The Fourteenth Day, which represented Yugoslavia at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival. His first novel, The Time of Miracles, was published in 1965. In 1970, Houses won the prestigious NIN Award for best Serbian novel, and Pekić managed to obtain a passport and emigrate to London. Living as an expatriate he continued to write novels and advocate for democratic reform. In all, Pekić would write more than thirty works of fiction and nonfiction and saw some two dozen of his plays produced for the stage. Among his notable works are Kako upokojiti Vampira translated into English as How to Quiet a Vampire, 1977) and the seven volume saga of the Negovan family, Zlatno Runo (The Golden Fleece, 1978–1986). Following the collapse of Communism, he returned periodically to Serbia, finally helping to form the new Serbian Democratic Party in 1990 and clashing with security forces at an anti-Milošević rally in 1991. The next year he died of lung cancer in London.

Bernard Johnson (1933–2003) was affiliated with the Language Centre at the London School of Economics for many years. In 1970 he edited and translated the first anthology of modern Yugoslav literature, and throughout his career he distinguished himself as one of the most active translators of Serbo-Croatian poetry and prose working in English. In addition to Houses, NYRB Classics publishes Johnson’s translation of Aleksandar Tišma’s The Use of Man.

 

Mon amie américaine by Michèle HalberstadtMon Amie Amercaine
Translated from French by Bruce Benderson
Published on: April 12, 2016

When two colleagues become close friends they believe their friendship will last forever, but when one of them suffers a devastating illness, the bond between them is stretched to a breaking point.

Two women are film industry colleagues and very close friends. Molly is a charismatic and dynamic Manhattan businesswoman until, at the age of forty, she has a brain aneurysm and falls into a month-long coma. Frightened and debilitated, she is a shadow of her former self.

Michèle, her Parisian friend, must grapple with these changes as she contemplates the nature of her relationship with a now-unrecognizable Molly. Is the bond the same when everything you once loved about a person has changed? What becomes of a friendship you once thought was unbreakable? Author Michèle Halberstadt explores the guilt that arises from these questions with grace and sensitivity.
– Other Press

Michèle Halberstadt is a journalist, author, and producer of such films as Monsieur Ibrahim, Farewell My Concubine, and Murderous Maids, which she also cowrote. Her novels include La Petite and The Pianist in the Dark, which won the Drouot Literary Prize and was short-listed for the Lilas literary prize in France.

Bruce Benderson is a novelist and essayist as well as a translator. He is the author of a memoir, The Romanian: Story of an Obsession, winner of France’s prestigious Prix de Flore in French translation, and Pacific Agony.

 

121 DaysOne Hundred and Twenty-One Days by Michèle Audin
Translated from French by Christiana Hills
Published on: April 12, 2016

The debut novel of mathematician, author, and Oulipo member Michèle Audin, One Hundred Twenty-One Days retraces the lives of French mathematicians over several generations during World Wars I and II. The narrative oscillates stylistically from chapter to chapter, sometimes resembling a novel, at others a fable, historical research, or a diary, locking and unlocking codes, culminating in a captivating, original reading experience.
– Deep Vellum Publishing

Michèle Audin is a mathematician and a professor at l’Institut de recherche mathématique avancée (IRMA) in Strasbourg, where she does research notably in the area of symplectic geometry. Audin is a member of the Oulipo, and is the author of many works of mathematics and the history of mathematics, and has also published a work of creative nonfiction on the disappearance of her father, Une vie brève (Gallimard, 2013), contributed to a collection of short stories, Georges Perec and the Oulipo: Winter Journeys (Atlas Press, 2013), and edited and annotated an abecedary of Oulipo works, OULIPO LAbécédaire provisoirement définitif (Larousse, 2014). One Hundred Twenty-One Days is her first novel and was published to universal acclaim in 2014 by the prestigious Gallimard publishing house in France.

Christiana Hills is a literary translator who graduated from NYU’s MA program in Literary Translation, and is currently a doctoral candidate in Translation Studies at Binghamton University in New York.

 

The Sweepstakes of Love by Toomas VintSweepstakes of Love
Translated from Estonian by Matthew Hyde
Published on: April 29, 2016

In this collection which contains both autobiography and fiction, the prominent Estonian artist and writer Toomas Vint, whose career spans the Soviet period and Estonia’s re-gaining of independence, demonstrates his characteristic mischievous, dark sense of humour, an artist’s eye for visual detail, and an experimental approach to form. His main themes are the fine dividing line between fantasy and reality, man’s foibles, frailties and capacity for self-deception, and the absurd and sometimes tragicomic nature of the human condition.
– Dalkey Archive Press

Toomas Vint was born in 1944 in Tallinn, Estonia, where he still lives today with his wife Aili. Since 1971, Vint has earned living as a freelance writer and painter. Vint’s novels and short stories have been nominated for several literary awards; he has won the Friedebert Tuglas Short Story Award twice, as well as the Estonian Prose Award.

Matthew Hyde is a translator of fiction and non-fiction from Russian and Estonian. After studying Russian and politics at London and Essex Universities, and gaining his Institute of Linguists Diploma in Translation with a distinction for literary translation, Matthew worked for 15 years for the British Government as a translator, research analyst, and diplomat, with postings in London, Moscow, and Tallinn (as Deputy Head of Mission). Following this last posting Matthew chose to remain in Tallinn with his Estonian partner and baby son, where he plays the double bass and translates.

 

Carrina LaCorata has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of South CarolIMG_1665ina with a major French and a minor in Theater and a Master’s degree from New York University in Literary Translation: French to English. She is currently working on building her career as a freelance translator (and hopes that literary translation will be a part of that). Carrina is excited to be an intern with ALTA and learn more about the literary translation world.

 

Maggie Zebracka is a graduate of Wellesley College and Vanderbilt University. Originally zebrackafrom southeastern Poland, she currently lives and writes in West Texas.

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