Women in translation

I had initially mention doing a best of 2013 ,but have since decide to bring ten female writers in translation I have enjoyed on the blog .I like many others would love to see a few more female writers translated ,I probably do have a slight bias of reading male writers ,but have in recent times tried to add a few more female writers in translation to my reading .As it international women’s day it seem a great time to share some of my favourite female writers and there books from around the world .I will keep trying to add female writers in translation to the blog .

sidewalksValeria Luiselli is a Mexican writer I have reviewed two of her books on the blog .Sidewalks and Faces in the crowd .Sidewalks is a series of essays mainly about cites and walking .Faces in a crowd set in new york is a novel about a women an old poet and writing a wonderful book .Valeria is my favourite female writer in translation .

stones in a landslideIts hard to believe this was one of the first books from Peirene and it is one I still think of a lot ,stones in a landslide is a story of Conxa her life in the small villages of the pyrenees .

The rest is silenceNow top chile and Carla Guelfenbein one of the rising stars of Latin American fiction .We follow Tommy a young boy ,whose mother has died ,as he uncovers what really happened to her .

revenge by Yoko OgawaNow Yoko Ogawa writes dark short stories I have reviewed two of her books on the blog Revenge and diving pool .I loved revenge its clever series of recurring motifs and other worldliness makes it a stunning collection .

Train-to-Budapest-Maraini-DaciaNow Dacia Maraini is a name that wheneveer the Nobel prize betting appears ranks high ,she is an Italian writer I have only reviewed train to Budapest on the blog .But have three more I need to get to over the next year or so including Silent duchess her best known book .

summer bookNow I was a later comer to Tove Jansson I had read a moomin book as a kid but it wasn’t til I started Blogging I discovered her adult books .She wrote two books summer and winter book about her life on a small island both are gems .

hunger angelNow the German writer  Herta Muller has won the Nobel prize and is another of my favourite female writers ,I have reviewed Nadirs ,the passport  and her most recent book The hunger angel .Her books look over the dark past of communism and her use of language is very unique .

Until-Thy-Wrath-Be-PastAsa Larsson is one of the best Nordic crime writers I have review her book Until thy wrath be past one of the series she has written about Rebecca Martinsson .

trieste dasa drndicDasa Drndic book was shortlist for the IFFP last year it is the story of a women born under the lebensborn programm of Nazi regime ,but also the history of the Italian Jews during the war a list of every Jew from Italy that died is a strong reminder of what happened .

ekaterinfrontcover_50b7770928f02I ve lastly picked Marija Knezevic a Serbian writer for her book Ekaterini follows the history of the Balkans but also what it was to be a women during those times .

So there is ten female writers in translation ,I could added lots more maybe if you could suggest some ? that would be great .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The people in the photo by Hélène Gestern

the-people-in-the-photo

The people in the photo by Hélène Gestern

French fiction

Original title - Eux sur la photo

Translation by Emily Boyce and Ros Schwartz

Source – review copy

Hélène Gestern is a French writer she is based in Nancy in France is a teacher and researcher at a laboratory studying linguistics   .She is also on the editorial committee of a literary review magazine dedicate to autobiographical writing .Her interest are photography and cats .This is her first book to be translated to English.

                                                              Ashford ,25 march 2007

Madame / Monsieur

I have only just read your advertisement ref 248 .22o in the Libération of 12 February

I believe I may have some information concerning the person you are inquiring about :I am convinced it is my father , who often used to spend his summers in Interlaken .I am enclosing the photocopy of his Geneva Tennis club membership card from the 1960′s ,which I have found among his papers .You will see his photograph on it

Could you tell me how you obtained his name and why you are seeking information about him

Yours faithfully

S.Crusten

The first letter to Hélène from Stéphane that starts their journey .

 

The people in the photo is an epistolary novel .The book starts when    Hélène an archivist discovers a photo of her late  mother and two men the photo was taken in 1971 at a tennis tournament in Interlaken .Armed with this info she puts an advert in the French newspaper Libération with the names on the back of the photo and is shocked when she gets a reply from Stéphane a swiss biologist that is based in Kent ,he believes it is his father is one of the two men with Hélène’s late mother .This is the basis of the book the letters that follow try to find out what happened between the parents at the time ,try to get to the bottom of how Hélène’s mother died .

                                                    Paris , 17 Febuary (email)

Dear Stéphane

As if you had to ask ! I will yes ,as molly bloom would say , come with you to Geneva .And we can stop off to see Jean on the way back : I’m dying to meet him .Did the nurse tell you exactly what happened ?

I’ll be waiting for you at the flat on Friday .You know the way ,but you’ll need th new magic number b220

A tender kiss

Hélène

AS you see they draw closer over the course of a year of writing to each other .

Now the book is an exploration of find out the secrets that can be kept from kids by their parents .The two main characters each in turn discover more about their parents than they wanted .The choosing of the epistolary form shows that even given the change from letters to e mails it still shows how the tension can be built from mail to mail as these two uncover the long-lost secrets of the past .Each some how finds out where they came from ,discover what problems can happen when there parents may have had a liaison in the past and what does this mean for the two of them now because although they have been drawn together by chance they actually start to like each other as the go on the journey of discovery .Photos play an important part in the book Hélène Gestern brings the pictures in this book to life in the prose as we see the family snaps of the two pass and the past come alive .This is one for loves of family secrets it is full of them ,loves of photos and if you are like me and see a picture and build your own narrative around it this is one for you ,how often have you found or seen a picture and wonder what happened then and what happened at the time ,also a book for the fan of the epistolary form .I will soon have a q&a with Hélène Gestern .

Have you a favourite epistolary novel ?

A video treat Valeria Luiselli

I saw this on facebook the other day posted by Daniel Hahn it is an interview with the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli in english about her book .I have reviewed two books by her 

 

Translation Laureate ?

Just a quick thought after listening to open book the radio four show about books .Where they had three children’s laureate on talking about the work they had done promoting children’s literature .This set me thinking why isn’t the a translation Laureate ? We talk about not knowing what to read or books getting under promoted now if everyone could get behind one person a well known writer or figure in the lit world and they could advocate the beauty and variety of fiction in translation and do this around the country get a grass roots surge of people really showing interest in literature in translation . What do you think ? Who could do this great task ?

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Stoner ,stoner how many translations could be discovered like stoner

Well unless you’ve been under a rock for last couple of years .you won’t have missed the rise and rise of Stoner a slow climber a writer book it is said ,I enjoyed it but maybe not as much as others the style had the soft spoken style you find in a number of European writers ,this as I start considering a review of stoner , set me thinking of how many stoners are out there either translated and out of print or not even translated ? For me the answer is more than we imagine every year sees a few gems that have been waiting for a publisher to take a dive to translate or a publisher to reissue people like pushkin press , Peirene ,NYRB , Dalkey archive and twisted spoon have in recent years all discover gems Walser ,Zweig , Fallada , Vanderbeke to name a few of many .I’ve been buying and looking at books towards my century of translation project and am amazed what has been translated and fallen out of print .So let’s hope the next stoner is a translation and sets about a wave of rediscovery of lost writers from around the world ?
have you a writer in translation you think should be highlighted ?

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The Mirror of Beauty by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi

the mirror of beauty

The Mirror of Beauty by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi

Urdu fiction

Translated from Urdu by the writer himself

Source – copy via Musharraf Ali Farooqi

Well I have raved about this Epic written by the renowned Urdu Literary critic , publisher and editor Shamsur Rahman Faruqi .He is the publisher of the well-known Indian Lit journal Shakhoon .This is his debut novel but he has in the past published a four volume study of the well-known poet Taqi Mir .The reason I held of on my review of the book is a feeling that this book would at some point get a Uk release but a few months on it seems not yet and I really want to share my love of this book .Which for me is easily the best piece of Indian fiction since and if  not even better than midnight children .

Wazir Khanam ,ALSO and perhaps better known as Choti Begam (Younger lady ) , was born around 1811 .She was the third and youngest daughter of Muhammad Yusuf ,maker of plain gold ornaments .She was born in Delhi but Muhammad Yussuf was not native to Delhi .His ancestors were from Kashmir .How and when these people reached Delhi , and what befell them in Delhi is a very long story .

The intro to the book explains where Wazir came from .

The novel is set just as India is changing the East India  company is gaining a foothold and the Mughal’s are still about  but their power is on the wain .We see this world through the eyes of Wazir Khanam ,she is a rare beauty and a rare women .Through the book she takes two lovers , also has two husbands along the way gives birth too a number of children among those is  Dagh a well-known poet .But this is his mother’s story she is a women that has lovers from both sides of the India she lives in both  British and Indian .She is almost a new women, not a figure we have been portrayed in other books about Indian  in this time ,no this is a strong-willed women that loves her life and her world and likes to be in control of it as much as she can .She first meets and marries a charismatic English man  called Blake, so  she moves away from Delhi but the marriage ends when he is killed and she returns to that  city .She then meets Nawab Khan and she also has many other lovers .This also sounds like a well lived but actually Wazir life is a battle and a lot of her loves end badly .But she loves her world the world she lives in is moving from the regal Mughal empire into the commerce and chaos at times of the British and the East India company .We see a world of painters ,carpet makers ,the desert of India  to the valleys of Khasmir and finally the chaos of the Metropolis Delhi through one women ,her husband ,lovers and children .We she her effect on the world a ripples in time and the people she touched and her family touch move in this changing India ,rather like the children born on the stroke of midnight in Rushdie’s midnight children Wazir and her family and friends move the world  of their time .

It took a great deal of argument before Wazir could persuade Marston Blake to approve the name Badshah Begam for their first daughter ,He refused to consider any other name than Sophia ,a name that identified her as a Christian .After a great amount of discussion in the first instance , he agreed to Masih Jan a name that was vaguely Muslim and could also be taken as Christian .

She cross the western and Asian world so well at times and fought for what she believed in

Well as you see this book some how captures a world now gone and little written about  .Faruqi is like an Indian dickens ,or even Hillary Mantel the lives touched in this book are the ones you don’t know a lot about ,the ones just down from the top Nobel men ,high-ranking officials but not the big ones ,but people near the top and how this women effect them and her .He captures a world I  loved that of the Darlymple books. But he brings it  to life of the page .I feel the fact he took six years to translate from his original Urdu book to this  English translation has made every word seem as thou they were written originally in English it is flawless .I feel this is maybe the greatest Indian novel and feel my heart sink that it isn’t even getting an Uk issue you can buy it via Amazon and I strongly urge you to buy it as like me you will no doubt be blown away by its beauty and world .Faruqi really weaves 19th century India he said in an interview his love of Urdu poetry at the time lead to the figure of Wazir and as he wrote he check up facts and built the story that way .I really enjoyed the arts and crafts described in the book from poets to carpet makers their jobs and lives opened up .

The Black spider by Jeremias Gotthelf A Halloween german lit month treat

the black spider

The Black Spider by Jeremias Gotthelf

German Gothic Fiction

Original title Die Schwarze spinne

Translator – H M Waidson

Source personnel copy

Jeremias Gotthelf was a swiss pastor and writer ,His actual name was Albert Bitzius ,he was educated in Bern wre he founded the second oldest Swiss fraternity ,before becoming a pastor and then in his thirties he took up writing .He used the Bernese countryside and his strong religious beliefs in his books .

Christine had been gleefully watching everything outside in the field .The sun might burn hot as she worked at the heavy labour ,but the spider hardly burned any more at all .

The devil made his mark  on her .

The book focus on the people in a Bernese village ,we start at a farm where a baptism is in full swing ,then we get an unbaptized baby that  is kissed by a hunter and this kiss cause a black mark to appear and she is touched by the devil this Christine .So there is now a pact between the village and the devil that leads to years and years of godless behaviour ,when at some point this falls apart a plague of spiders swarms around the village  and they now need god to come back and save them .That is the barest bones of this tale it is a real quest between good and evil between god and the devil in tit many faces .

Next to the church was the inn , for these two institutions so often stand close to one another , sharing joy and suffering together , and what is more , in all honour .

But are they hand in hand

Well that is it in part this book has a really twisted narrative style one could almost say it has an old testament feel to it selling pone soul to the devil and it having a bad outcome all sounds like the wrathful god of the old testament  .This at times seems like a Sunday sermon that he may have told round Halloween to scare the kids and adults into god fearing Christians ,But that said Robert Johnson was said to have sold his soul to the devil and he did make some great music ,.But we also get a feel of traditional Germanic folk tales with figure like the hunter and a knight appearing in the story ,also the selling of a soul to a devil has been a recurring motif in a lot of German fiction around this time and before even Faust for Example .Then there is also the way Gotthelf describes the village the church and the inn next to one another has a slight feel of temperance movement and is the godless behaviour connected to the drink .This has been a great read for Halloween one for a dark evening and a quick check to see if there isn’t a spider about to jump on me like Robert smith in the video .I read the Oneworld classic copy of this book with a 1958 translation ,I know NYRB classics has just issued a new translation which I hope to read and compare as I felt the choice of words and way the story unfold was a little stayed at times .

Have you a favourite Halloween read ?

 

Nobel Prize for Literature 2013 is Alice Munro

Well it’s that time of year again when we stare into the world of Literature and try to guess the winner of Nobel prize it is like shooting minnows in a swimming pool many names mentioned this time the usual Nadas ,Murakami ,Djebar and Munro .New Names like Alexievich ,Fosse and Marias this year who knows the betting seems to point to Svetlana Alexievich as favourite a late run on Thoig’o and Djebar at this time half hour before this time Nobel have provide an Embedded feed here

Thanks for Lisa for heads up on this

The winner this year is Alice Munro The short story writer

Here is her Wikipedia page 

And a link to the short story the bear came over the mountain on new yorker here 

Winner of Harvill secker Young Translator prize

young translator

HARVILL SECKER announces winner of 2013

prize for young translators

 

Lucy Greaves, who holds an MA in Literary Translation from the University of East Anglia, is the winner of the 2013 Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize.  Lucy attended the TimesCheltenham Literary Festival last night to accept the prize.  Receiving her award from Harvill Secker editor Ellie Steel, following a special translation slam event in honour of the prize, Lucy said: ‘I’m shocked and delighted to have been awarded the Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize. This was my first ever piece of literary translation from Portuguese, and I never imagined I’d win! I feel very fortunate to have this incredible opportunity to develop as a translator and I’m really looking forward to working with Margaret Jull Costa on the BCLT mentorship scheme.’

 

As the winner of the prize, Lucy Greaves receives £1000 and a selection of Harvill Secker titles.  She will also take part in a six-month mentorship scheme with translator and judge Margaret Jull Costa, in association with the British Centre for Literary Translation.   In November she will travel to The Hague to participate in The Chronicles programme, which brings together young authors and young translators as part of the Crossing Border Festival.

The chosen language for the 2013 prize was Portuguese and entrants were asked to translate ‘O sucesso’, a short story by Brazilian author Adriana Lisboa. The prize was judged by authorNaomi Alderman, translator Margaret Jull Costa, literary journalist Ángel Gurría-Quintana and Harvill Secker editor Ellie Steel. This year’s runner-up is Annie McDermott.

The winning story is published online by Granta www.granta.com and will be available to read from Wednesday 9th October.

The judges commented: The field was very strong, and we were impressed by the imagination applied by all our entrants, and the variety of interesting ways in which they dealt with the mood and humour of the piece. Adriana’s wonderful story appears simple, but it presents various challenges which must be handled deftly by a translator. We chose Lucy’s translation for its elegant sentences and her perceptive capturing of the story’s youthful energy and coming-of-age spirit.’

There were a total of 92 entries from 9 countries: Brazil, Bulgaria, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, UK and USA.

Lucy Greaves lived and worked in Colombia, Peru, Chile and Switzerland before going on to study an MA in Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia. She now works as a freelance translator from Spanish, Portuguese and French, and she is based in Bristol, UK. When not translating, she teaches skiing.

Description: Description: BCLTlogoRGB.jpgPlease visitwww.harvillseckeryoungtranslatorsprize.com for more information.

THE AUTHOR

Adriana Lisboa

Adriana Lisboa was born in Rio de Janeiro. With degrees in Music and Literature, she is the author of ten widely translated fiction titles, including five novels, a collection of flash fiction, and books for children. She was hailed as a new star of Brazilian literature after the publication of her 2001 novel Sinfonia em Branco (‘Symphony in White’), which received the prestigious José Saramago Prize. In 2007, she was selected by the Hay Festival/Bogota World Book Capital as one of the 39 highest profile Latin American writers under the age of 39. Her latest novel, Crow Blue, will be published in the UK by Bloomsbury in October 2013, translated by Alison Entrekin.

THE JUDGES

Margaret Jull Costa (translator)

Margaret Jull Costa has been a literary translator for nearly twenty-five years and has translated many novels and short stories by Portuguese, Spanish and Latin American writers, including Eça de Queiroz, Fernando Pessoa, José Saramago, Javier Marías, Bernardo Atxaga, Alberto Barrera Tyszka and Luis Fernando Verissimo. She has won various prizes for her work, most recently, the 2012 Calouste Gulbenkian Prize with Teolinda Gersão’s The Word Tree, for which she was also runner-up with António Lobo Antunes’s The Land at the End of the World.

Naomi Alderman (author)

Naomi Alderman grew up in London and attended Oxford University and UEA. In 2006 she won the Orange Award for New Writers, and in 2007 she was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and one of Waterstones’ 25 Writers for the Future. She is the author of four novels: DisobedienceThe LessonsThe Liars’ Gospel  and the Doctor Who tie-in novelBorrowed Time. Naomi broadcasts regularly, has guest-presented Front Row on BBC Radio 4 and writes regularly for Prospect and the Guardian. From 2004 to 2007 Naomi was lead writer on the BAFTA-shortlisted alternate reality game Perplex City. She’s written online games for Penguin, the BBC, and other clients. In 2012, she co-created the top-selling fitness game and audio adventure Zombies, Run!. This year, she has been named among the twenty most promising young British writers by Granta on its prestigious once-a-decade list.

Ángel Gurría-Quintana (journalist)

Ángel Gurría-Quintana is a historian, journalist and translator of Spanish and Portuguese. He has written for the Financial Times since 2003, specialising in literature in translation. His work has also appeared in the Observer, the Guardian, The Paris ReviewBrick, granta.comand the translation blog Three Percent. A regular presence at the Festa Literária Internacional de Paraty, his translations from Portuguese include the stories by Beatriz Bracher, Bernardo Carvalho, Milton Hatoum, Reinaldo Moraes and Cristovão Tezza in the compilation Dez/Ten (2012). More recently he co-edited and translated the forthcoming anthology, Other Carnivals: New Writing from Brazil (Full Circle Editions). He works at the University of Cambridge.

 

Ellie Steel (editor)

Ellie Steel is an editor at Harvill Secker, where she publishes authors Manuel RivasKarin Fossum and Andrey Kurkov, among others. She is the coordinator of the Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize and editor of the ‘A View from This Bridge’ blog atwww.internionalwriting.co.uk

I will be reviewing the New Novel in English By Adriana Lisboa tomorrow on the Blog

Taxi by Khaled Al Khamissi

taxi

Taxi by Khaled Al Khamissi

Egyptian fiction

Original title -Hawadith al-mashawir

Translator – Jonathan Wright

Source personnel E book copy

Khaled Al Khamissi is an Egyptian born ,writer he has written two novels so far .He studied Political science and university .This book thou published in 2006 /7 .A ;lot of what is spoken in the book seems very much still to be the case in Egypt .

‘People wonder why the economy’s screwed up,’ the driver said. ‘It’s screwed up because of people. Would you believe it, a country like Egypt, the people here spend more than 20 billion pounds a year on telephone calls. Twenty billion pounds, I mean, if we didn’t talk for two or three years, would Egypt be different?

Khamissi, Khaled Al (2012-03-15). Taxi (English edition)

 

Taxi is made up of 58 stories or is it voices ,from all round Cairo the voice of the taxi drivers of Cairo ,their  stories paint the city from top to bottom from the upper echelons to the lowest street people ,what we get is a clutter city  but city wanting to move forward ,of hard-working souls and corruption and uneven lifestyles come across .The from seatbelts to cinema ,Iraq ,Palestine and Israeli all crop up in the chats note in the stories .But at the back of it from time to time is the police corruption and the president at the time Mubarak   looming in the background as we see these windows of Cairo tell the tales to a unnnamed man in the taxis .

‘The whole story was business on business. The big guys imported seatbelts and sold them and made millions . The Interior Ministry issued one ticket after the other and collected millions. The wretched cops on the street would stop you and say: “Where’s your seatbelt, you bastard?” and you’d have to slip him a fiver, and if he stopped you when an officer was there , it would be twenty pounds. I mean, everyone benefited.

how they ended up with seatbelts in the city according to one driver ?

Well this book still seems fresh not seven years on yes the modern Egypt has moved quickly ,but one feels from the bits we see on the UK news that the basic problems that underlie these stories and people in the stories are the same .The city comes across as a place of divide but also great characters . I was reminded of the book written about a tube train and its passengers that had great snippets of of there lives .Also the book has a non fiction feel at times ,you never quite sure what has been heard and what was made up ,I feel maybe from what I’ve read about the book one thing we maybe have missed in Jonathan Wrights great translation is dialect that part of the book that if you live in Cairo maybe opens the book even more like a Londoner would gather more from an east end dialect and a city boys speaking but that aside I felt it was a great view into Cairo just before it blew up and maybe in here are a few clues too why it happened .

What is your favourite book on Egypt ?

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