compiled by Maggie Zebracka
Eve Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi
Translated from the French by Jeffrey Zuckerman
Published by Deep Vellum
“With brutal honesty and poetic urgency, Ananda Devi relates the tale of four young Mauritians trapped in their country’s endless cycle of fear and violence: Eve, whose body is her only weapon and source of power; Savita, Eve’s best friend, the only one who loves Eve without self-interest, who has plans to leave but will not go alone; Saadiq, gifted would-be poet, inspired by Rimbaud, in love with Eve; Clélio, belligerent rebel, waiting without hope for his brother to send for him from France.
Eve Out of Her Ruins is a heartbreaking look at the dark corners of the island nation of Mauritius that tourists never see, and a poignant exploration of the construction of personhood at the margins of society. Awarded the prestigious Prix des cinq continents upon publication as the best book written in French outside of France, Eve Out of Her Ruins is a harrowing account of the violent reality of life in her native country by the figurehead of Mauritian literature.”
“I am fully aware of the importance of translation in literature, and of how much we all owe to the dedication and talent of translators to discover writing from all over the world, without which we would be circumscribed within insurmountable linguistic barriers. It can never be said enough how much translation is necessary to understand the world, and even more importantly through literature, which is a window of truth disguised as fiction. In an increasingly fractured and fragmented world, this cannot be stressed enough.
I also feel as if my novel has been given a new life, and translation becomes a door that will lead the novel to another place. Even when I don’t understand the language, I try to read passages of the translation to get a feel for it. In English, it is of course easier for me! When I read your translation, I felt as if I was rediscovering my own novel, but through another voice.
It is an immense pleasure, a gift like no other, to rediscover your own work in another language and to find that—to paraphrase T. S. Eliot—you have arrived where you started and know the place for the first time. Our exchanges have been an absolute pleasure, especially as I felt that you understood the characters as deeply as I did, and that you were committed to this novel to the extent that it became your creation as well.”
About the author
Ananda Devi (b. 1957) is well-known throughout Europe as the figurehead of Mauritian literature. Her work explores femininity and the experience of alienation within the Indo-Mauritian community, and is characterized by a poetic and lyrical style. Devi won her first literary award at the age of fifteen for a short story submitted to a Radio France Internationale competition. Since then, she has been awarded several literary prizes, including the Prix des Cinq Continents de la Francophonie in 2006, the Prix Louis-Guilloux in 2010, and the Prix du Rayonnement in 2014. She studied ethnology and anthropology, completing her doctoral thesis at the School for Oriental and African Studies in London. She has published eight novels and several short stories and works of poetry, many of which have been translated into multiple languages. Eve Out of Her Ruins is her second book to be made available in English. Devi was made Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government in 2010.
About the translator
Jeffrey Zuckerman is digital editor of Music & Literature Magazine. His translations from French include Ananda Devi’s Eve Out of Her Ruins (Deep Vellum, 2016) and Antoine Volodine’s Radiant Terminus (Open Letter, 2017) as well as numerous texts by Marie Darrieussecq, Hervé Guibert, Régis Jauffret, and Kaija Saariaho, among others. A graduate of Yale University, his writing and translations have appeared in Best European Fiction, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Paris Review Daily, Tin House, and Vice. He is a recipient of a 2016 PEN/Heim Translation fund grant for his translation from the French of The Complete Stories of Hervé Guibert.
The Eskimo Solution by Pascal Garnier
Translated from the French by Emily Boyce and Jane Aitken
Published by Gallic Books
“A children’s writer rents a house on the Normandy coast where he plans to write his first crime novel. There, away from his love life, his editor and his friends, he’ll be free to pen the story of Louis, who after killing his mother, is inspired to relieve his friends of their own burdensome elderly relatives.
But even far away from everything he knows, distractions seem to find their way to his door: from his lovable elderly neighbours, to his girlfriend’s tearaway teenage daughter. And somehow, events from his life appear to overlap with those of his imagination…”
About the author
Pascal Garnier, who died in March 2010, was a talented novelist, short story writer, children’s author and painter. From his home in the mountains of the Ardèche, he wrote fiction in a noir palette with a cast of characters drawn from ordinary provincial life. Though his writing is often very dark in tone, it sparkles with quirkily beautiful imagery and dry wit. Garnier’s work has been likened to the great thriller writer, Georges Simenon.
About the translators
Emily Boyce studied French and Italian at the University of Oxford with a year abroad teaching English in Turin, home of Fiat cars and magnificent chocolate. After graduating she worked on the BBC’s food websites and translated French literature as a hobby. She was shortlisted for the French Book Office “New Talent in Translation Award” in 2008. In 2011 she became in-house translator at Gallic Books. Her translations and co-translations from French include works by Pascal Garnier, Antoine Laurain, Hélène Gestern and Éric Faye.
Jane Aitken is the founder of Gallic Books and a translator from the French.
In case you missed it…
Human Acts by Han Kang
Translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith
Published by Portobello Books
If you enjoyed Han Kang‘s Man Booker-winning novel The Vegetarian, check out her 2016 novel Human Acts set in Kang’s hometown of Gwangju, South Korea in 1980. “In the wake of a viciously suppressed student uprising, a boy searches for his friend’s corpse, a consciousness searches for its abandoned body, and a brutalised country searches for a voice. In a sequence of interconnected chapters the victims and the bereaved encounter censorship, denial, forgiveness and the echoing agony of the original trauma.”
“Neither inviting nor shying away from modern-day parallels, Han neatly unpacks the social and political catalysts behind the massacre and maps its lengthy, toxic fallout. But what is remarkable is how she accomplishes this while still making it a novel of blood and bone.”
Both The Vegetarian and Human Acts are translated by Deborah Smith. Read a recent essay written by Smith (and published by Asymptote) on how she chose to translate the title, Human Acts. An excerpt: “It was, then, a long and rather convoluted road that brought me to the eventual title: Human Acts, a phrase which to me embodied the neutrality, disorienting and even terrifying, inherent in the fact that these can be both tender and violent, brutal and sublime, committed by the same individuals. The one does not cancel the other out, does not atone for or even diminish it one iota.”
About the author
Han Kang was born in Gwangju, South Korea, and moved to Seoul at the age of ten. She studied Korean literature at Yonsei University. The Vegetarian (Portobello Books, 2015), her first novel to be translated into English, won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize. Human Acts, her second novel to be published in English (Portobello Books, 2016), won the Manhae Literary Award. Her writing has also won the Yi Sang Literary Prize, the Today’s Young Artist Award, and the Korean Literature Novel Award. She currently teaches creative writing at the Seoul Institute of the Arts.
About the translator
Deborah Smith is a literary translator from the Korean. Her translations include two novels by Han Kang, The Vegetarian and Human Acts (both Portobello, UK; Crown, US), and two by Bae Suah, A Greater Music (Open Letter, 2016) and Recitation (Deep Vellum, 2016). She recently founded Tilted Axis Press, a not-for-profit press focusing on contemporary literary fiction. Tilted Axis’s first titles will include a darkly erotic Bengali novella, an obliquely allegorical take on South Korea’s social minorities, and a feminist, environmentalist narrative poem from Indonesia, published as a ‘sight-impaired-accessible’ art book. These will be followed by translations from Thai, Uzbek, and Japanese. She tweets as @londonkoreanist.
In Search of Lost Time: Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
Adapted by Stéphane Heuet
Translated by Arthur Goldhammer
Published by Gallic Books
Marcel Proust‘s In Search of Lost Time: Swann’s Way has been adapted as a graphic novel by Stéphane Heuet and translated into English by Arthur Goldhammer.
“Now, in what renowned translator Arthur Goldhammer says might be “likened to a piano reduction of an orchestral score,” the French illustrator Stéphane Heuet re-presents Proust in graphic form for anyone who has always dreamed of reading him but was put off by the sheer magnitude of the undertaking.
This graphic adaptation reveals the fundamental architecture of Proust’s work while displaying a remarkable fidelity to his language as well as the novel’s themes of time, art, and the elusiveness of memory.“
Illustrator Heuet writes of taking the novel from text to comic: “What geniuses such as Balzac or Flaubert say about life by describing the world around us, Proust employs psychology – the inner world. I discovered with delight how ‘visual’ the books are, and the artistic potential which was contained within them (the strong imagery in Proust’s works is so clear in my mind that I always feel as though I’m reading an artist describing his paintings). And the drollery of characters such as Celine, Flora, the Verdurins, Cottard and so many others, all so visually evoked, very quickly gave me the idea of a graphic novel reimagining.
This idea was supported by my conviction that the graphic novel was an effective way of introducing Proust to those alarmed by his reputation as difficult, while remaining faithful to the text (imperative to me, as the style is such an important component of the joy of reading Lost Time). Furthermore, I thought the illustration would allow those who had already read Lost Time to visualise how the places, monuments and works of art, real or imagined, might appear.”
About the author
Marcel Proust was born on July 10, 1871, at 96, Rue La Fontaine in the 16th Arrondissement of Paris (Auteuil district) and died at the age of 51 on November 18, 1922, at 44, Rue Hamelin, Paris XVI. He wrote articles, poems, and short stories (collected as Les Plaisirs et les Jours), as well as pastiches and essays (collected as Pastiches et Mélanges) and translated John Ruskin’s Bible of Amiens. In 1895 he began a first novel, Jean Santeuil, which he abandoned and which was not published until 1952. Then, in 1907, he began writing In Search of Lost Time, of which seven volumes appeared between 1913 and 1927.
Stéphane Heuet is an artist and comics illustrator, born in Brest, France, in 1957. The son of a naval officer, he is himself a keen sailor, and in 2010 he published a collection of 18 maritime stories by authors such as Pierre Mac Orlan and Herman Melville with watercolour illustrations. Heuet is best known for his mammoth project of adapting Proust’s seven-volume masterpiece In Search of Lost Time as a graphic novel. Gallic Books published the first volume, Swann’s Way, translated by Harvard academic Arthur Goldhammer, in 2016.
About the translator
Arthur Goldhammer is an American academic and translator. Goldhammer studied mathematics at MIT, gaining his PhD in 1973. Since 1977 he has worked as a translator. He is currently based at the Center for European Studies at Harvard.
Maggie Zebracka is a graduate of Wellesley College and Vanderbilt University. Originally from southeastern Poland, she currently lives and writes in West Texas.