February 1st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink


  • Critic Christine Bini did me the favor of translating my essay on Châteaureynaud’s story “Delaunay the Broker,” on her blog at Le Nouvel Observateur—according to Wikipedia, “the most prominent French general information magazine in terms of audience and circulation.” The piece was first published in English on the Kepler’s Bookstore blog, Well-Read Donkey.
  • For the second time (spring 2011 was the first), novelist and professor John Gregory Brown will be teaching A Life on Paper in his course The Fantastic in Fiction at Sweet Briar College. Over the course of the semester, students will read the entire book and blog on every story, in the context of work by Steven Millhauser, Kij Johnson, and Gabriel Garcia-Marquez. Seeing these young readers’ reactions was one of Châteaureynaud’s favorite parts of 2011, a sentiment I can only echo.

The Guardian reviews We Won’t See Auschwitz

February 3rd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Rachel Cooke gives Jérémie Drès’s We Won’t See Auschwitz a winning review in The Guardian:

Jérémie is wryly honest about this episode, just as he is about the fact that they concoct, for the benefit of the Zelechów archivist, a cock-and-bull story about how they’re searching for a friend’s relative rather than their own – and it’s this kind of honesty, I think, that makes We Won’t See Auschwitz so enjoyable. For all that they are terribly serious about their quest, there are times when they just can’t wait to get away from all the proselytising rabbis and obsessive genealogists and head to the nearest restaurant for gefilte fish and marinated herrings. We Won’t See Auschwitz is Dres’s first book, but it reminds me strongly of the brilliant travelogues of the French-Canadian cartoonist, Guy Delisle (Burma Chronicles, Jerusalem): a little bit of history; a little bit of politics; the occasional joke. Both men refuse to be weighed down by the complexity of a situation – and their comics cut through the silt of the opinions of thousands of others gracefully, and with seemingly astonishing ease.

February is Comics Month at Words Without Borders

February 5th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

Now up at Words Without Borders: their annual comics issue, chock full of goodies for the perusing, including quite a number from France. I have a chapter up, entitled “Tongue-Tied,” from Li-Chen Yin’s memoir Formosa (Ça et Là, 2011).

As this is my blog, and I get to say what I want, I’ll say it: the author’s choice of font to replace her original hand-lettering looks awful, and nearly ruins the piece. But the Li-Chen Yin is still a creator of potent metaphorical images, and her exploration of the politics of language education and its effects on children still packs a punch.

Don’t miss a bouquet of OuBaPo strips curated and translated by Matt Madden (currently enjoying a residency in Angoulême), especially “Palindrome” from my perennial favorite, professional wit François Ayroles, whose piece “I’m So Happy…” I translated for Two Lines XV and have been trying to get into print ever since. I reproduce a page from it below:


"I'm so happy..."

2013 ALTA Travel Fellowship Awards

February 7th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

ALTA logo

Six years ago now (in 2007) I was one of the lucky young translators to get an ALTA Travel Fellowship. It was good money, huge encouragement at a precarious and impressionable time, and a great entrée into the world of literary translation by way of a conference that still manages to gather many of the country’s best literary translators each year for shoptalk, drinks, fascinating panels, and general comradery.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2013 ALTA Travel Fellowship Awards.  If you’re a newcomer to translation, no matter your age, you should try your hand! Each year, four to six fellowships in the amount of $1,000 are awarded to beginning (unpublished or minimally published) translators to help them pay for travel expenses to the annual ALTA conference.  (When I applied, I had two lit mag credits and a handful of comics to my name.) The 2013 conference will be held October 16–19 in Bloomington, Indiana, where UI has an impressive library with translators’ papers.

At the conference, ALTA Fellows will give readings of their translated work at a keynote event, thus providing them with an opportunity to present their translations to a large audience of other translators, as well as to publishers and authors from around the world.  ALTA Fellows will also have the opportunity to meet experienced translators and to find mentors.

If you would like to apply for a 2013 ALTA Travel Fellowship, please e-mail if possible a cover letter explaining your interest in attending the conference; your CV; and no more than ten double-spaced pages of translated text (prose or poetry) accompanied by the original text to

If you have difficulties with e-mail, please mail the above documents to:

2013 ALTA Travel Fellowship Awards
c/o The University of Texas at Dallas

800 West Campbell Road.  JO51
Richardson, TX  75080-3021

Applications must be received by May 15, 2013 in order to be considered for this year’s fellowships.  Winners will be notified at the end of August. For more information, please visit ALTA’s website ( or contact Maria Rosa Suarez (, 972-883-2093).

Coachella, Weird Fiction, Tin House, Absinth€ Minded

February 8th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

from Matt Benyo’s blog

  • H.V. Chao’s short story “A Portrait in the Attic” is up at The Coachella Review, kicking off a year of six of his short fiction publications slated so far—seven, if you count G.-O. Châteaureynaud’s translation “La main de mon père” in Brèves (the English original, “My Father’s Hand,” is forthcoming). “Portrait” is the first to appear in English.
  • I’m back in my bimonthly Monday groove at Weird Fiction Review, blogging on all things French and fantastic, starting with this post on Jean Ferry, author of “The Society Tiger,” my translation of which featured in the early days of WFR. I have a bad habit of announcing two-parters and not following through—I currently owe second parts to my Béalu and Brion posts—but caveat lector to those awaiting: it might be a bit. Sorry! Never fear, though—they will be finished!
  • The Tin House blog has run my piece on Charles McCarry’s novel The Secret Lovers. I’ve been working my way through the McCarry Å“uvre since last summer for sheer pleasure, and even though some novels are inevitably better than others, never once has his work failed to offer something compelling, memorable, and deftly presented.
  • After a three-year hiatus, I’ve also taken up blogging as part of the team again at Absinth€ Minded, the blog of Absinthe, Dwayne Hayes valiant journal of new writing from Europe, one of the few translation-only litmags on the scene. My first post concerns a fan petition for the translation of comics giant Moebius’ work into English, and goes on to some thoughts about English as a world language and the power of fans to change publishing in this time of transition.


Design Week Likes We Won’t See Auschwitz

February 10th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

We Won't See Auschwitz

At Design Week, Emily Gosling has a few appreciative words for Paris-based Jérémie Dres’ graphic novel debut We Won’t See Auschwitz (out now from SelfMadeHero):

The Holocaust isn’t the easiest subject to explore through a medium as image-led as the graphic novel. However, new Self Made Hero-published book We Won’t See Auschwitz proves that with a little sensitivity, a sweet and unpatronising plotline and some sensitively evocative illustration, it’s possible to produce a volume that explores such weighty issues rather well.

While the illustrations may not be overly complex or technical, the sketchy black and white tales manages to cover some weighty histories, proving that in some cases, pictures really are capable of speaking a thousand words.

H.V. Chao in The Nashwaak Review

February 13th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Nashwaak Review #28-29

H.V. Chao’s story “Visa” is out in the latest issue of The Nashwaak Review (28-29), with nifty cover art of a sculpture from the Whirligigs exhibit at Beaverbook Art Gallery. An earlier version originally tied for first place in USC’s own Edward G. Moses Undergraduate Fiction Prize, 1998. A later version won second place in the Society for the Study of the Short Story contest. It is, at long last, seeing the light of day in print. This is the second of Chao’s stories to appear this year.

The Brooklyn Rail Fiction Anthology 2: Review Copies Now Available

February 15th, 2013 § 4 comments § permalink

The Brooklyn Rail Fiction Anthology 2

Around the turn of the year (2008-09), The Brooklyn Rail ran Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud’s story “The Only Mortal.” At the time, it was the author’s fifth published story in English, before the 2010 collection A Life on Paper. Now, as the Rail prepares to release its second anthology of fiction selected from its pages, Châteaureynaud’s story features in a table of contents where he’d be proud to be found: Ionesco, Ryunosuke, Pessoa, Cortazar, de Sade, Walser, Luc Lang, Emmanuel Bove… And I find myself among translators I’m honored to have shared column inches with: Alyson Waters, Geoffrey Brock, Susan Bernofsky, playwright Caridad Svich, Donald Nicholson-Smith, the late Richard Seaver… Not to mention original fiction by Bukowski, Douglas Glover, Laird Hunt, Shelley Jackson, and comics by Tom Motley. Assembled by Donald Breckenridge (with editorial assistance from Jen Zoble, Stefanie Sobelle, and Claudia Acevedo-Quiñones), this is nigh on 400 pages of awesomeness, and I salute them for producing not only a quality but a truly international volume. And all proceeds go toward sustaining the Rail as a progressive community, literary, and journalistic force.

Why wait till the May release? Digital review copies are yours for the asking right now. Just leave a comment!

Kickstart My Heart: Two Projects to Fund Now

February 17th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

  • Quick! There’s only five days left to save artist Andrew G. Fisher’s photobook Perspective and kickstart it into existence! You could be holding a deluxe 64-page square softcover book containing 85 meditative images on the ephemerality of life. The book adapts Fisher’s first photofilm, showcasing his flair for compositional drama and control of black and white. Among the interesting work at his site is Forgotten Corners, a series considering urban decay.
  • With 8 days to go, Anomalous Press is less than $40 shy of the funds it needs to publish six fantastic books that their editorial team has donated time and talent to cull, proofread, edit and design. Since its founding in March 2011, Anomalous has been an on-line literary journal for poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and translation, but it’s taking the leap into the world of book publishing. All funds are strictly budgeted to pay printing; shipping; buying ISBN numbers for print, ebook, and audio versions; and paying Kickstarter and Amazon their dues. Click on over to the Kickstarter to read in detail about the six outstanding titles by Janis Freegard, Mike Schorsch, Liat Berdugo, Askold Melnyczuk, Sarah Tourjee, and  Éric Suchère translated by Sandra Doller that YOU could help make a reality.

UPDATE from Sarah Kosch, Anomalous Publicity Editor:

Because of the unforeseen rapidness of closing in on $5000, we’re going to add some new Stretch Goals in which everyone will win!

  • If we raise an extra $100 (to reach $5100), we’ll make a postcard from The Everyday Maths that everyone will get.
  • If we reach $5300, we’ll make a set of three postcards from the books that everyone will get.
  • $5500 and we’ll make Anomalous buttons using images and text from the books that everyone will get.
  • $6000 and we’ll make the postcards, buttons, and be able to give token payments to our contributing authors, cover artists, and composer. Not what they’re worth, but a gesture of thanks for their fantastic cont ributions that the world can now enjoy.

Thank you for all you’ve done so far! We still have eight days to go, and I’m just tickled to see how this thrilling run ends.


Blutch: So Long, Silver Screen

February 19th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Cover design by David Mazzuchelli

Cover design by David Mazzuchelli

Blutch is hands down one of the most talented and respected French cartoonists today, a hero to the up-and-coming generation, even including Americans like Jessica Abel and Craig Thompson. It’s a travesty he doesn’t even have an English Wikipedia entry. It’s a tragedy, too, that he’s barely been published in English up till now, but happily, that’s a wrong we’re about to right. We can’t make up for all the lost years, but Dan Nadel’s Brooklyn-based PictureBox is putting out his first full-length work to appear in English. May it pave the way for a long overdue Blutch invasion and (at this point) career retrospective: for starters, English editions of Peplum, Mitchum, Blotch, Vitesse moderne, and Le petit Christian…

This release is something discerning fans stateside have been waiting for a very long time. Blutch ‘s built a solid fan base, mostly by word of mouth, among cartoonists, illustrators, animators, and Francophiles. In So Long, Silver Screen, Blutch pushes the counterpoint of text and image to the limit, delivering a Godardian cine-essay in graphic novel form. It’s a mash note, a hate letter, an editorial, a screed, the diary of an affair, the best kind of critique–intimately, messily, inextricably bound up with personal history. Along the way, Blutch gets off a number of bons mots, his wit as epigrammatic as his style is compressed in its dense conveyance of information. (My favorite: “Cinema is a butterfly net for catching little girls.”) There are especially astute entries on acting (starring Burt Lancaster), the male gaze and the mistreatment of women, and the price of fame. Inevitably, meditations on film are meditations on time. Blutch stands at the edge of film’s grave, that 20th century titan, tossing in flowers of tribute.

Of note: So Long, Silver Screen, is one of the few books I’ve worked on whose title was reworked, in collaboration with the publisher. The original, Pour en finir avec le cinéma, translates to “To have done with movies,” but includes a colloquialism: “faire son cinéma” means making a fuss over something—a production, shall we say—such that the common “Arrête ton cinema” translates to “Stop making such a big deal about it.” So the title’s implication is also Goodbye to All That (Bizness, or Nonsense). We batted a number of ideas around, starting closer to the original with puns like Wrapping Up: Thoughts on Film, and That’s a Wrap: Notes on Movies; moving on to cultural references like Say Goodbye to Hollywood, Au Revoir le Cinéma, and The Last Picture Show and Tell, before settling on the current choice.

For those who can’t wait till the April release, Comic Book Resources has a 10-page preview up. A few years ago Words Without Borders, ever ahead of the curve, ran an excerpt from Blutch’s book That Was Happiness, along with a short making-of video interviewing the artist,  and David Varno blogged an appreciation of Blutch’s style.


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