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Archive of ‘Literature in Translation’ category

The End of Love, by Marcos Giralt Torrente read by Katherine Silver and Scott Esposito

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Katherine Silver and Scott Esposito

read and discuss the work of Marcos Giralt Torrente

on the occasion of the release of

The End Of Love

by Marcos Giralt Torrente

translated by Katherine Silver

published by McSweeney’s Books

In this quartet of mesmerizing stories, Marcos Giralt Torrente explores the confounding, double-edged promise of love. Each finds a man carefully churning over his past, trying to fathom how the distance between people can become suddenly unbridgeable.

Two tourists visit a remote island off the coast of Africa and are undone by a disconcerting encounter with another couple. A young man, enchanted by his bohemian cousin and her husband, watches them fall into a state of resentful dependence over the course of decades. A chaste but all-consuming love affair between a troubled boy and a wealthy but equally troubled girl leaves a scar that never heals. The son of divorced parents tries in vain to reunite them before realizing why he is wrong to do so. In The End of Love, Giralt Torrente forges discomfiting and gripping dramas from the small but consequential misunderstandings that shape our lives.

Marcos Giralt Torrente was born in Madrid in 1968 and is the author of three novels, a novella, and a book of short stories. He was writer-in-residence at the Spanish Academy in Rome, the Künstlerhaus Schloss Wiepersdorf, and the University of Aberdeen, and was part of the Berlin Artists-in-Residence Programme in 2002-2003. He is the recipient of several distinguished awards, most importantly the Spanish National Book Award in 2011. His works have been translated into French, German, Greek, Italian, Korean and Portuguese. The End of Love is his first book to appear in English.

Katherine Silver’s most recent translations of contemporary literature in Spanish include works by Daniel Sada, César Aira, and Horacio Castellanos Moya. She is also the codirector of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre.

Scott Esposito’s criticism has appeared in Bookforum, the Los Angeles Times, the Review of Contemporary Fiction, the Los Angeles Review of Books, The National, The Point, Tin House, The Paris Review Daily, and numerous others. He has also written introductions to novels for the Dalkey Archive Press and Melville House Publishing. He is the editor of online publications for San Francisco’s Center for the Art of Translation and has been a consultant on translated literature for presses including Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McSweeney’s, Graywolf, and Open Letter. He is also the editor in chief for The Quarterly Conversation, an online periodical of book reviews and essays. He is the co-author with Lauren Elkin of The End Of Oulipo? from Zero Books.

Stacey Lewis interviews Aron Aji

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Stacey Lewis and Pen Translation Finalist Aron Aji discussed A Long Day’s Evening (City Lights Books) by Bilge Karasu on December 11, 2012. 

When Leo III, Emperor of Byzantium outlaws all religious paintings and icons, Constantinople is thrown into crisis. A palace official overseeing the destruction of an image of Christ is murdered by a band of irate women, and an atmosphere of danger grips the city’s monasteries, strongholds of icon veneration. Living amidst unacknowledged stirrings of resistance, watching for cues from the other monks, Andronikos is deeply confused about his own beliefs, and fears the consequences of exposing himself. One night he decides to escape, leaving behind his beloved Ioakim, who must confront his own crisis of faith and choose where to place his allegiance. Against a backdrop of religious and political upheaval, the two experience their love as the absence that each becomes for the other. In language that builds to an operatic intensity, the dualities of dogma and faith, custom and law, truth and lies, individual and society, East and West, Byzantium and Rome, are embodied in a story of prohibited love and devotion to the Unseen.

“From 8th century Constantinople to Istanbul in 1960, Karasu’s words travel the temporal distance like a flock of storks, flying to a horizon where history intersects with faith, religious and political, and where memory looks and finds meaning. Only a master can choreograph such a difficult journey . . . and Karasu is one. This is a fascinating novel and a pleasure to read.” — Sinan Antoon, author of I’jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody

“It might seem odd to find such crafted postmodernist writing coming out of Turkey. [Karasu] is a rare find indeed. Fascinating … an illuminating transitional work between the work of Turkey’s romantic realist Yashar Kemal and contemporary postmodernist Orhan Pamuk. More please.” – Kirkus Reviews

“One of Turkey’s most interesting modern writers.” – Booklist

Bilge Karasu (1930-1995) was born in Istanbul. Often referred to as “the sage of Turkish literature,” during his lifetime he published collections of stories, novels, and two books of essay.

 

Aron Aji discusses his new translation of Bilge Karasu’s A Long Day’s Evening

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On December 11, 2012, at City Lights Bookstore, City Lights Publishers and Eleven Eleven:  Journal of Literature and Art at California College of the Arts warmly welcomed Aron Aji, who discussed his latest work of translation, A Long Day’s Evening (City Lights Books) by the great Turkish experimental modernist Bilge Karasu. 

When Leo III, Emperor of Byzantium outlaws all religious paintings and icons, Constantinople is thrown into crisis. A palace official overseeing the destruction of an image of Christ is murdered by a band of irate women, and an atmosphere of danger grips the city’s monasteries, strongholds of icon veneration. Living amidst unacknowledged stirrings of resistance, watching for cues from the other monks, Andronikos is deeply confused about his own beliefs, and fears the consequences of exposing himself. One night he decides to escape, leaving behind his beloved Ioakim, who must confront his own crisis of faith and choose where to place his allegiance. Against a backdrop of religious and political upheaval, the two experience their love as the absence that each becomes for the other. In language that builds to an operatic intensity, the dualities of dogma and faith, custom and law, truth and lies, individual and society, East and West, Byzantium and Rome, are embodied in a story of prohibited love and devotion to the Unseen.

“From 8th century Constantinople to Istanbul in 1960, Karasu’s words travel the temporal distance like a flock of storks, flying to a horizon where history intersects with faith, religious and political, and where memory looks and finds meaning. Only a master can choreograph such a difficult journey . . . and Karasu is one. This is a fascinating novel and a pleasure to read.” — Sinan Antoon, author of I’jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody

“It might seem odd to find such crafted postmodernist writing coming out of Turkey. [Karasu] is a rare find indeed. Fascinating … an illuminating transitional work between the work of Turkey’s romantic realist Yashar Kemal and contemporary postmodernist Orhan Pamuk. More please.” — Kirkus Reviews

“One of Turkey’s most interesting modern writers.” — Booklist

Bilge Karasu (1930-1995) was born in Istanbul. Often referred to as “the sage of Turkish literature,” during his lifetime he published collections of stories, novels, and two books of essays.

An Evening With László Krasznahorkai

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New Directions Publishing and City Lights came together to celebrate the hotly anticipated release of the English translation of renowned Hungarian author László Krasznahorkai‘s Satantango at City Lights Bookstore, June 28, 2012.

 

László Krasznahorkai is a contemporary Hungarian author whose works have been translated into many languages. He was born in Gyula, Hungary, in 1954. He worked for some years as an editor until 1984, when he became a freelance writer. He now lives in reclusiveness in the hills of Szentlászló. He has written five novels and won numerous prizes. In 1993, he won the Best Book of the Year Award in Germany for The Melancholy of Resistance. His novels include Animalinside, Satantango, and War And War.

 

Much like the seven-and-a-half-hour Béla Tarr film it spawned, Satantango requires patience. Underlying this morass of atrophying humanity is a structure of subtle movements, the structure of the tango, a structure only apparent at a far remove. It is a structure I only recognized somewhere in the seventh hour of the film and which, while immersed in the novel, seems ever elusive, although there are indications. Even if you don’t have the patience for the gran mal, there are moments of Handkean brilliance in the minutiae. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books

At long last, twenty-five years after the Hungarian genius László Krasznahorkai burst onto the scene with his first novel, Satantango dances into English in a beautiful translation by George Szirtes.
Already famous as the inspiration for the filmmaker Béla Tarr’s six-hour masterpiece, Satantango is proof, as the spellbinding, bleak, and hauntingly beautiful book has it, that “the devil has all the good times.”

The story of Satantango, spread over a couple of days of endless rain, focuses on the dozen remaining inhabitants of an unnamed isolated hamlet: failures stuck in the middle of nowhere. Schemes, crimes, infidelities, hopes of escape, and above all trust and its constant betrayal are Krasznahorkai’s meat. “At the center of Satantango,” George Szirtes has said, “is the eponymous drunken dance, referred to here sometimes as a tango and sometimes as a csardas. It takes place at the local inn where everyone is drunk. . . . Their world is rough and ready, lost somewhere between the comic and tragic, in one small insignificant corner of the cosmos. Theirs is the dance of death.”

“You know,” Mrs. Schmidt, a pivotal character, tipsily confides, “dance is my one weakness.”

————–

New Directions was founded in 1936, when James Laughlin (1914 – 1997), then a twenty-two-year-old Harvard sophomore, issued the first of the New Directions anthologies. “I asked Ezra Pound for ‘career advice,’” James Laughlin recalled. “He had been seeing my poems for months and had ruled them hopeless. He urged me to finish Harvard and then do ‘something’ useful.”

Translator Damion Searls and author Peter Orner discuss and read Amsterdam Stories

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On Tuesday, May 8, 2012, at City Lights Bookstore, translator Damion Searls and author Peter Orner discussed and read from the work of Nescio (Jan Hendrik Frederik Grönloh) to celebrate the release of Amsterdam Stories (introduction by Joseph O’Neill, translated from the Dutch by Damion Searls, published by NYRB Books).

Jan Hendrik Frederik Grönloh was a successful Dutch businessman, executive of the Holland-Bombay Trading Company and father of four, with a secret life: under the pseudonym Nescio (Latin for “I don’t know”), he wrote a series of short stories that went unrecognized at the time but that are now widely considered the best prose ever written in Dutch.

Nescio’s stories look back on the enthusiasms of youth with an achingly beautiful melancholy comparable to the work of Alain-Fournier and F. Scott Fitzgerald. He writes of young dreams from the perspective of adult resignation, but re-inhabits youthful ambition and adventure so fully that the later perspective is the one thrown into doubt—and with language as fresh as when it was written a century ago. His last long story, written and set during World War II, is a remarkable evocation of the Netherlands in wartime and a hymn to our capacity to take refuge in memory and imagination.

This is great literature—capturing the Dutch landscape and scenes of Amsterdam with a remarkable poetry, and expressing the spirit of the country of businessmen and van Gogh, merchants and visionaries. This first translation of Nescio into English—all the major works and a broad selection of his shorter stories—is a literary event.

About the authors:

Nescio (1882–1961) was the pseudonym of Jan Hendrik Frederik Grönloh. His reputation as one of the most important modern Dutch writers was only established after his death.

Joseph O’Neill was born in Cork, Ireland. He writes regularly for The Atlantic Monthly and his works include the novels This Is the Life, The Breezes and Netherland, winner of the PEN/Faukner Award for Fiction, and the nonfiction book Blood-Dark Track: A Family History. He lives with his family in New York City.

Damion Searls is the author of What We Were Doing and Where We Were Going and an award-winning translator, most recently of Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Inner Sky: Poems, Notes, Dreams, Jon Fosse’s Aliss at the Fire, and Hans Keilson’s Comedy in a Minor Key. NYRB Classics has published his abridged edition of Henry David Thoreau’s Journal and will publish his translations of André Gide’s Marshlands.

Peter Orner is the author of of the novels Love and Shame and Love and The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo and the short story collection Esther Stories. His short fiction has been published in the Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, as well as the Pushcart Prize Anthology. He has co-edited Hope Deferred: Narratives of Zimbabwean Lives and edited Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives a collection of true stories about undocumented workers in America, which are both part of the Voice of Witness series from McSweeney’s.

Willis Barnstone reads from The Poems of Jesus Christ

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Willis Barnstone appeared at City Lights Bookstore on Thursday, April 5 to read from The Poems of Jesus Christ (W. W. Norton & Company).

The words of Jesus Christ are restored to their original poetic form 
in this extraordinary volume. Jesus Christ, whose teachings have been on the lips of millions for two millennia, is revealed here as one of the greatest poets of all time. What happened to deafen us to the poetic nature of his words? In migrating from Aramaic speech into written Greek translation, and later into English translation, the lyrics got locked up as prose.

In The Poems of Jesus Christ Willis Barnstone unveils the essential poetry of the Gospels by taking the direct speech of Jesus from Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John, and lineating and titling Jesus’s words as individual poems. Jesus’s poems are wisdom lyrics and narrative parables, rich with garden, animal, and nature imagery. Austere and poignant, they carry the totality of the Gospels’ message through the intensity of a single voice––the Gospel of Jesus.

Willis Barnstone is a poet, translator, and religious scholar. Author of The Gnostic Bible, Cafè de l’Aube à Paris (French), and The Restored New Testament, he is a distinguished professor emeritus of comparative literature and biblical studies at Indiana University.

 

Pier Paolo Pasolini: In Danger A Pasolini Anthology

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Pier Paolo Pasolini's In Danger

In collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco, last November City Lights Bookstore welcomed Jack Hirschman with Susanna Bonetti and Jonathan Richman to celebrate the life and work of Pier Paolo Pasolini and the release of In Danger: A Pasolini Anthology edited by Hirschman.

Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975) was a major cultural figure in post-WW2 Italy, well known as a poet, novelist, communist intellectual, and filmmaker. In Danger is the first anthology in English devoted to his political and literary essays, and includes a generous selection of his poetry. Against the backdrop of post-war Italy, and continuing through the mid-’70s, Pasolini’s writings provide a fascinating portrait of a Europe in which fascists and communists violently clashed for power and journalists ran great risks. The controversial and openly gay Pasolini was murdered at fifty-three; In Danger includes his final interview, conducted hours before his death, as well as the cryptic litany “What Is This Coup? I Know,” which many suspect motivated his murder. Here also are Pasolini’s essays on cultural topics like hippies and Zen buddhism, literary discussions of writers like Italo Calvino, Marianne Moore, and Costantine Cavafy, and even a 1967 interview between Pasolini and Ezra Pound concerning Pound’s relationship to the contemporary Italian avant-garde. The poetry ranges from early works written in the Friulan dialect through his later lyric blasts against fascism.

In Danger is edited and introduced by internationally renowned poet Jack Hirschman, who also edited the enduring City Lights classic Artaud Anthology. Translated by several hands, including Hirschman and well-known rocker Jonathan Richman, In Danger is essential reading for anyone interested in Pasolini’s brave lyricism and critical insight.

Jack Hirschman is a San Francisco poet, translator, and editor. His powerfully eloquent voice set the tone for political poetry in this country many years ago. Since leaving a teaching career in the ’60s, Hirschman has taken the free exchange of poetry and politics into the streets where he is, in the words of poet Luke Breit, “America’s most important living poet.” He is the author of numerous books of poetry, plus some 45 translations from a half a dozen languages, as well as the editor of anthologies and journals. Among his many volumes of poetry are Endless Threshold, The Xibalba Arcane, and Lyripol (City Lights, 1976).