In the last session of my last graduate seminar, our professor asked the class when the last time was that we enjoyed a book. It was an unwieldy question, to say the least. Was she talking about that feeling I’ve been calling the Baskin Robbins dilemma, whereby professionalization breeds contempt? Or did she mean that … More My literary brain freeze.
What was it your mother always said? Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it? For a gaggle of translators stuck at an ill-fated convention in Pablo De Santis’ La traducción, these cautionary words ring ominously true. The novel, which was a finalist for the Planeta prize in 1997, is what … More Babel: Before and After
A meandering review of Ilan Stavan’s Lengua Fresca. The Grand Canyon State recently stepped into the spotlight of public opinion, passing a controversial immigration law that authorizes law enforcement agents to stop any ‘suspicious person’ at any time and demand to see documentation of their legal status in the US. Reactions to the legislation have … More Between Arizona and a Hard Place
After glancing at it from time to time as it gathered dust on my desk, I finally got around to reading Fernando Báez’s El traductor de Cambridge (Lengua de Trapo, 2005). The book hasn’t been translated into English and – as much as the idea of a sadistically misanthropic translator in the employ of one … More some things are better left unsaid
Open Letter Books just released The Private Lives of Trees, a new novel by Alejandro Zambra, author of the promising work Bonsai – nominated for the Best Translated Book Award of 2008, and reviewed here a few months ago. The Private Lives of Trees was translated by Megan McDowell. According to the publisher, The Private … More …and the only prescription is more Zambra.
The National of Abu Dhabi just published Scott Esposito’s review of El congreso de literatura (The Literary Conference), which was covered here last week. In it, Esposito also makes some interesting observations about what makes Aira’s work so appealing. Here’s a taste: Aira is indeed an author who loves to keep multiple balls in the … More Reasons other people love César Aira
Mario Bellatin loves this story. I can tell because he has started repeating himself, going back over the details. It is the story of how he came to write Perros héroes: the loss of a faithful canine companion, the recommendation of a friend, the drive to the outskirts of town to meet with a respected … More Writing off the page with Mario Bellatin
Okay, okay. Enrique Vila-Matas is from Barcelona, which is not exactly part of Latin America. But I’ll make an exception to my extremely staunch editorial policy to mention that his latest novel, Dublinesca, was just released by Seix Barral – and has already been slated for publication in English in 2011 by New Directions (US) … More The Literary Dreamscapes of Enrique Vila-Matas
Of all the writers I am excited to see translated from the Spanish, César Aira is one of my very favorites. Aira, who has penned over 50 novels, is known for a writing style he characterizes as a “huida hacia delante” – a flight forward. According to Aira, he writes a page or two per … More Reason No.273 I love César Aira
So, I am going to break with tradition a bit and write about a panel I attended yesterday Friday on the future of reading in the digital age, part of the PEN World Voices Festival. Panelists Ben Okri, Alberto Ruy Sánchez, Thomas Pletzinger and Sergei Sokolovskiy (whose outlandish pronouncements brought a welcome element of performance … More Learning to read (at PEN World Voices)