Jean Ferry’s “Bourgenew & Co.” in Subtropics #16

June 28th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Subtropics Issue 16

Subtropics Issue 16 (Spring/Summer 2013) is now available, and my contribution to it can be read in its entirety online: a translation of Jean Ferry’s story “La Maison Bourgenew,” first published in the August 1953 issue of La (Nouvelle) Nouvelle Revue Française, the eighth issue of the august Gallimard house organ’s postwar resumption under the editorship of Jean Paulhan. As can be seen from the cover below, that issue was a litany of interesting names: playwright Paul Claudel, novelist Jean Giono, poet Jean Follain, an essay by Maurice Blanchot, reviews by Michel Butor and Roger Nimier, André Pieyre de Mandiargues (in his capacity as regular chronicler), and Pierre Leyris’ classic feats of translation: Gerard Manley Hopkins in French (“faucon-Phaeton” for “dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon” remains a personal favorite).

NRF - Bourgenew

Old issues can be such a grab bag of goodies. Here’s hoping Subtropics #16 will age just as well. All my thanks to David Leavitt and the Subtropics team at UF Gainesville, where I have been blessed with being a fairly regular contributor. This marks my fourth translation to appear in its pages since Bernard Quiriny’s “A Guide to Famous Stabbings” (still available in its entirety online) in early 2010 (Issue 9 Winter/Spring 2010), followed by Paul Willems’ “Cherepish” (Issue 13 Winter 2012) and Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud’s “Final Residence” (Issue 14 Spring/Summer 2012).

I owe my title for Ferry’s story “La Maison Bourgenew” to Simon Watson Taylor, who in his 1968 anthology French Writing Today published the only other translation of the story in English (his own). Watson Taylor (1923-2005) was an English actor and the secretary of the British Surrealist Group, who edited the English language surrealist review Free Union. He translated Breton’s nonfiction and plays by Boris Vian, as well as works by Artaud, Louis Aragon, and Alfred Jarry. He also co-edited, with Roger Shattuck, the  famous May-June 1960 special issue of Barney Rosset’s Evergreen Review devoted to ’Pataphysics.


In his memoirs, Taylor refers to Ferry as a friend. Standing on the shoulders of Watson Taylor’s freeflowing version, I can only hope to have brought my own slightly different sensibility to it.

I think of Ferry’s tale as a take on Shangri-La. It’s one of the two more fully standalone tales he ever wrote, ones that feel like full-fledged stories in a more traditional sense, rather than sketches—the other being the oft-anthologized “The Society Tiger.” In 1991, Claude Andrieux adapted the story into a prizewinning short film (his first), which can also be watched online, though do yourself a favor—read the story first.

Should Ferry’s name seem familiar, he has been my next big project (see the Forthcoming link in the left sidebar). So far, besides Subtropics, I’ve published his work in Weird Fiction Review and The Coffin Factory, with forthcoming pieces in Anomalous (#9), Birkensnake (#6), and elsewhere. Ferry (1906-1974) was something of a 20th century touche-à-tout, on the fringes of France’s great literary schools: ’Pataphysician, Surrealist, Oulipian, fantasist.  A career screenwriter, best known for his collaborations with Clouzot, Buñuel, Louis Malle, and Georges Franju, he was also considered, in his day, the greatest specialist in the works of Proust’s neighbor, Raymond Roussel.

Jean Paulhan published Ferry’s only book of prose fiction, The Conductor, in 1953 at Gallimard. Recently brought back into print by Éditions Finitude, it will be published in English for the first time by Wakefield Press this fall in my translation. There’s a bit more recent good news about this book that I’m not able to share yet, so… stay tuned!

2013 John Dryden Translation Prize

June 24th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink


Hearty congratulations to my fellow winners for this year’s John Dryden Translation Prize!

  • First prize: Francis Jones, Ivan V Lalić (Serbo-Croat), Early Poems
  • Third prize: Adam Elgar, Alessandra Lavagnino (Italian): The Mother of the Prophet
  • Commendation: Angus Turvill, Hisashi Inoue (Japanese):  House up the River

I’m delighted to announce is the second time I’ve placed (with midcentury French fantastical fiction) in the yearly competition sponsored by the British Comparative Literature Association and the British Centre for Literary Translation. In 2010 I took first place with André Pieyre de Mandiargues’ “The Red Loaf,” since published in Words Without Borders, and this time I took second with Marcel Brion’s “La Capitana” (as yet unpublished).

Me at USC: Making Dornsife’s Front Page

June 20th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

All glory to Lauren Evashenk, who penned a winning piece about me for USC’s Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences site. Merci beaucoup to her and photomaster Vince Passaro for making me look good!

2013 PEN England Grants Announced!

June 18th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink


Huge if belated congratulations to all my fellow winners of 2013 English PEN grants! Sixteen projects (books + publishers) were selected for funding via the PEN Translates! program, which

awards grants to UK publishers for translation costs and is supported by Arts Council England. English PEN accepts submissions of fiction (including children’s literature), non-fiction, poetry, prose or plays (for print edition), but not magazines, in all languages.  The main criteria for assessment are literary quality, strength of the publishing project and making a contribution to literary diversity.  Titles are selected from a long list assessed and reviewed by an expert panel chaired by English PEN trustee and professional translator, Ros Schwartz.

I’ll be working with Tartarus Press on one of my dream projects: editing and translating an anthology of French and Belgian fantastical tales from 1940 to the present, tentatively entitled I Do Not Write to be Believed.

The PEN Translates! grants cover an impressive range of languages, with French coming in first at 4 books, followed by Spanish with 3, and Chinese and German with 2 each. Other languages represented include Occitan, Polish, Farsi, Portuguese, and Hebrew. I’m also proud to report that indie publishers scooped both grants and in the prize category for the PEN Promotes! program.

H.V. Chao in The Antigonish Review

June 16th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

The Antigonish Review

The English original of H.V. Chao’s short story “My Father’s Hand” is now available for the first time in print in the latest issue (#173) of Canadian litmag The Antigonish Review (Spring 2013). Spring comes late to Canada… hence the funereal cover.

Ledig House’s Fall 2013 Translation Lab: Apply Now!

June 15th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Ledig House! It’s a terrific residency! Have a project? You should apply! Deets below:
Writers Omi at Ledig House, a part of Omi International Arts Center, has been awarded a grant from to fund Translation Lab 2013, a 10‐day special, intensive residency for four collaborating writer‐translator teams in the fall of 2013.
Writers Omi will host four English language translators at the Omi International Arts Center for 10 days. These translators will be invited along with the writers whose work is being translated. All text‐based projects—fiction, nonfiction, theater, film, poetry, etc.—are eligible.
This focused residency will provide an integral stage of refinement, allowing translators to dialogue with the writers about text‐specific questions. It will also serve as an essential community‐builder for English‐language translators who are working to increase the amount of international literature available to American readers.
The dates for Translation Lab 2013 are November 6-15, 2013. All residencies are fully funded, including airfare and local transport from New York City to the Omi International Arts Center in Ghent, NY. Please note: accepted applicants must be available for the duration of the Translation Lab (November 6‐15, 2013). Late arrivals and early departures are not possible. Please do not submit a proposal unless both parties involved (translator and writer) are available for all dates.
Writers Omi will be accepting proposals for participation until July 15, 2013. Translators, writers, editors, or agents can submit proposals. Each proposal should be no more than three pages in length and provide the following information:
  • Brief biographical sketches for the translator and writer associated with each project
  • Publishing status for proposed projects (projects that do not yet have a publisher are still eligible)
  • A description of the proposed project
  • Contact information (physical address, email, and phone)
Proposals should be submitted only once availability for residency participation of the translator and writer has been confirmed. All proposals and inquiries should be sent directly to DW Gibson, director or Writers Omi at Ledig House at:

As of today, I leave Lyon

June 14th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

where for the last month I have enjoyed a residency courtesy of the Villa Gillet and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in NY. As part of my duties, I gave a translation workshop on Friday, May 31 to this year’s talented class of graduating students in NYU’s Master’s in French translation program, conceived of and run by Emmanuelle Ertel. It was part of the Villa’s annual festival, Les Assises Internationales du Roman.

I was housed in Les Subsistances. I blogged about it and the festival for French Culture, the website of the Cultural Services. My life here has been pleasantly low-key: rain or shine, I spend much of the day, nose to the grindstone, in the room I describe in that article. I often lunch out, instead of dinner–it’s cheaper, the set menus make for a pleasingly complete culinary experience. The walk to lunch and back breaks up the day, allowing me to see the various neighborhoods of Lyon. Perhaps more, someday, on various author visits.

Villa Gillet

Virtual Literary Salon at Intralingo Saturday, June 30th

June 12th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink


Lisa Carter, owner and founder Intralingo, who profiled me in at her site, is hosting a virtual literary salon on Saturday, June 29th to celebrate the launch of The House of Impossible Loves, which she translated. It is the first novel for adults by prizewinning Spanish YA author Cristina López Barrio.

You’ll be able to e-meet the author, translator and acquiring editor Christina Morgan in a live online conversation and book giveaway. Invite your friends, bring your questions and join the discussion! For more information about the participants and to register for this complimentary online event, go to

Brooklyn Rail Fiction Anthology 2: BOOK PARTY!!

June 8th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

The Brooklyn Rail Fiction Anthology 2
Come out and celebrate the launch of The Brooklyn Rail Fiction Anthology 2 at River Styx in Greenpoint on Monday, June 10th from 7 till 9. It is a beautiful book that has been in the making for a long time. There will be plenty of beer, wine, writers, translators, editors, artists, friends of The Brooklyn Rail, and hopefully, you!

The Brooklyn Rail Fiction Anthology 2 features Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud’s wonderful story “The Only Mortal,” which first appeared in the pages of The Brooklyn Rail and was later collected in A Life on Paper from Small Beer Press. I can’t help but think Châteaureynaud would be pleased with this choice of venue: he’s always had a fascination for the mythological River Styx, from his story “The Styx” (first published in The Harvard Review and also later collected in A Life on Paper) to Écorcheville, the city on a bend in the river Styx where his novel The Other Shore is set.

River Styx 21 Greenpoint Ave BK NY 11222
G Train to Greenpoint Ave then walk to the water

Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud in Exotic Gothic 5

June 7th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Cover art by Marcela Bolivar

Cover art by Marcela Bolivar

Exotic Gothic 5 will be released this month and is currently available for pre-order. It was edited by the wonderful Danel Olson, scholar of all things Gothic, for PS Publishing, the UK’s foremost specialist genre publisher. Volume 1 features the first ever English translation of Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud’s story “The Open Mirror.” This first appeared as one of a triptych of stories about writer’s residencies that appeared as a chapbook in France. The title story from this chapbook, “Final Residence,” was published last summer in Subtropics. Among his most recent stories, neither of these are available in the collection A Life on Paper from Small Beer Press.

As with most PS books, this is a deluxe jacketed hardcover edition with a print run of 300 (numbered 201-500); 200 special slipcased two-book sets numbered 1-200 are also available.

This year, Olson has taken his series has gone farther than ever before to find authors who evolve the Gothic genre: the twenty-six stories, fully half of which are by women, represent eleven countries.


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