Translations Up for 2014 Eisner Awards

April 17th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink


So the 2014 Eisner award nominees have just been announced, and this is the second year running I’ve had a translation on the ballot, and in one of the same categories: Best Reality-Based Work. Last year it was A Chinese Life by Li Kunwu and Philippe Ôtié, published by SelfMadeHero, and this year it’s A Bag of Marbles, by Kris and Vincent Bailly, from Lerner Graphic Universe, a graphic adaptation of Joseph Joffo’s classic memoir about growing up Jewish in occupied France.

Congrats to all my fellow nominees, which are:

  • The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story, by Vivek J. Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson, and Kyle Baker (M Press/Dark Horse)
  • Hip Hop Family Tree, vol. 1, by Ed Piskor (Fantagraphics)
  • March (Book One), by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf)
  • Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, by Ulli Lust (Fantagraphics)
  • Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story, by Peter Bagge (Drawn & Quarterly)

SelfMadeHero made a strong showing this year, with 7 nominees in 5 categories! One of their boos, up for Best Humor Publication, is
The (True!) History of Art, by Sylvain Coissard and Alexis Lemoine. For over a decade now, my friend Sylvain has been one of the principal behind-the-scenes players in bringing English readers French comics, as a rights agent for Delcourt, Futuropolis, Sarbacane, Gallimard, and all of Lewis Trondheim. This is Sylvain’s first book as a writer, and a sequel is in the works! I’m glad he’s getting some spotlight at last!

Voting is open, and anyone can vote! Go to it!


Translations in Comparative Critical Studies

April 15th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

CCS covers

The latest issue of the British Comparative Literature Association’s journal, Comparative Critical Studies, is out: Vol. 11, No. 1, red cover, eds. Maike Orgel and Glyn Hambrook. It contains excerpts from the 2013 John Dryden Translation Prizewinning pieces, including my rendition of Marcel Brion’s “La Capitana” from Les Escales de la haute nuit (Laffont, 1942). It was my first time working on Brion, though I’ve written on him at Weird Fiction Review.

Essayist, critic, novelist, and historian, Marcel Brion (1895–1984) wrote nearly a hundred books, ranging from historical biography to examinations of Italian and German art. Later in life, he turned to fiction, distinguishing himself in the domain of the fantastic. A regular contributor to La Revue des Deux Mondes and Les Nouvelles littéraires, Marcel Brion was for more than two decades also the foreign literature editor for Le Monde, where he brought Rainer Maria Rilke, James Joyce, and Dino Buzzati to the public eye. Brion was a member of the Academie Française, a knight of the Légion d’honneur, the Ordre national du Mérite, and the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. His most memorable contributions to the field of the fantastique include the story collections Les Escales de la haute nuit (1942) and La chanson de l’oiseau étranger, and the novel La ville de sable. Here’s an excerpt:

It was an old house—noble, slightly decrepit—like most dwellings in that former Parlement town, where hardly a living thing was left save for great chestnut trees that renewed their youth in pink candelabra every spring, and fountains whose eternal voices sang the same joys and sorrows year upon year, century upon century. Sonorous, high-ceilinged rooms, somehow ardent and despondent at once, stirred up dreams and nostalgia. Close walls hemmed in a garden like a miniature jungle, choked with vague notions of escape. A house like that took possession of you as soon as you stepped over the doorsill. It inhabited you more than you it, filling you by turns with enthusiasm and gloom, depending on the path of the sun, the course of clouds, the sudden or furtive entrance of night. It presented one of those traps where the deceptive safety of an open door hid the impossibility of later turning back. It proffered a hook disguised a rose in a crystal vase, a ceiling with stucco volutes, shepherds playing instruments over the doors, acrobat monkeys tucked away in an alcove. The magic of the house was such that it made you forget the portion of time and space you belonged to, offering instead a lure of illusory infinity.

The last piece I had in Comparative Critical Studies was in the other issue pictured above, when I won the 2010 Dryden Prize for my translation of André Pieyre de Mandiargues’ story “The Red Loaf.” Mandiargues (1909-1991) was a French writer of the fantastic whose prolific output included poems, plays, essays, novels, and short stories. He also translated works by Yeats, Mishima, and Paz. Initially affiliated with Surrealism, he went on to be known for his flamboyant style and fascination with the erotic and macabre. His 1967 Goncourt-winning novel La marge was translated as The Margin (Calder & Boyars, 1969) by Richard Howard, and his novel La motocyclette (Gallimard, 1963) made into the film The Girl on a Motorcyle (1968) by Jack Cardiff.

Both these pieces were challenging to translate in similar ways: handling ornate prose styles that ranged from stately and classical (Brion) to idiosyncratic and outré (Mandiargues). I won’t excerpt the Mandiargues here, since it can be read in its entirety at Words Without Borders.

COMING SOON: Weapons of Mass Diplomacy

April 9th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink


WMD PRIn these last few weeks before the 4/17 UK release of Weapons of Mass Diplomacy by Abel Lanzac and Christophe Blain, mentions of the acclaimed graphic novel are popping up:

  • at the Paris Review blog, writer Antonin Baudry (Abel Lanzac) gives an interview on the book
  • Zainab Akhtar at Comics and Cola enthuses over artist Christophe Blain and runs the eight-page preview from publisher SelfMadeHero
  • Mark Willis at A Blind Flaneur does the same, and throws in the preview for the film adaptation, which opened in select American theatres on March 21st

Don’t forget the excerpt available since February at Words Without Borders, along with an essay I wrote about working on the translation!

Châteaureynaud’s “The Orchard” Now at Web Conjunctions

April 7th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Le Verger

“The Orchard,” Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud’s most oft-reprinted story in France, makes its English-language debut at Web Conjunctions, the online wing of the celebrated literary magazine. This delicate and mournful tale of a child in a concentration camp has echoes of I.B. Singer, and was singled out by Marcel Schneider in his history of the French fantastique:

It would be easy to lend this apologue a moral meaning: the curse of being alone in Paradise, the need to share in shared misfortune, the fate of the tribe. But none of this ever crossed the author’s mind. At the origins of this story are a dream, a series of dreams, a hallucination from childhood. His own father having suffered deportation and internment, Châteaureynaud violently felt the brutality of the camps. What touches the reader is the tale’s perfection and the strange beauty emanating from it. The author gives no thought to turning it into a moral tale.

I am not sure why this chapbook version of it has a hippo on the cover, since no hippos, alas, figure in the story.

Here’s an excerpt:

One soldier stayed to the side. Though the child couldn’t make out his face at this distance, he knew it was his pursuer. The man had slung his truncheon back onto his belt. He smoked pensively in the night, staring at the barbed wire. The child blinked. He struggled against sleep for a few moments more, but his head was too heavy, and the grass too soft. He surrendered. At an order, the soldiers tossed their cigarettes aside and lined up. Following the officer, they headed back through the muddy field. The noise their boots made, the same hammering that had sometimes kept him up all night when it rang through the streets of his village—now the child didn’t hear a thing. He slept.

Publisher’s Weekly Loves Peeters’ Aama

April 5th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

At Publishers Weekly, Peeters scores his second starred review in a row after last year’s Pachyderme, this time for the first volume of his SF epic Aama. The reviewer says:

Peeters is best known for his intimate graphic novel Blue Pill, but he seems to have produced this mind-bending tale of SF mystery and intrigue without breaking a sweat, offering clever retro-future designs and rich, moody hues. The expectantly hallucinatory unraveling of the mystery should satisfy fans of psychological sci-fi like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaris.

Frederik Peeters’ Aama Now Out in the U.S.

March 18th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink


The first volume of Frederik Peeters’ ongoing far-future science fiction epic, Aama. It came out in English last fall in the UK. It’s out now in the U.S. You can get it.

Jonathan of Page 45 calls it:

Pure science fiction heaven. I now see exactly why this won the prestigious Best Series of 2013 prize at Angoulême. As utterly bizarre and charming in its own way as perhaps the greatest science fiction graphic novel ever THE INCAL, yet without the existential farcicality and turbo paced freneticism of that particular classic, it won me over instantly. Possibly the highest personal praise I can pro-offer is it greatly minded me of Iain M. Banks prose, in the sense that we are presented with a highly complex and well developed universe and cast of characters, but there is a real sense of mystery to the plot which immediately draws you in. The art also, has a lightness of touch yet richness of detail which engendered a sense of real wonderment in me. Suspension of disbelief complete, this was a joyful thirty minutes reading indeed. For someone who likes his fiction with a futuristic twist, this is as close to nirvana as it gets.

Fans of Frederick, who’ve already read the autobiographical BLUE PILLS, the enigmatic ‘Tales of the Unexpected’-esque SANDCASTLE and the equally surreal PACHYDERME, will already know of his ability to craft and illustrate stories with an almost cinematic sense of pacing and scope, to display genuine emotional depth in characters both lovable and loath-worthy alike. This is probably his most complete and indeed accessible work for me, despite the genre which will probably limit its appeal to some people, although it really shouldn’t. I am pleased the jurors of Angoulême and just European readers of bande dessinee in general, are able to appreciate greatness irrespective of its flavour. I am delighted also to report this is merely volume one in what I hope to be a long running epic.

Ferry, French-American Finalist!

March 14th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

FAF Banner

Jean Ferry’s The Conductor and Other Tales is one of five finalists for the 2013 French-American Foundation Translation Prize! Congratulations to my fellow nominees: Adriana Hunter, Mike Mitchell, Jordan Stump, and Chris Turner for fiction, and Malcolm DeBevoise, Alison Dundy, Nicholas Elliot, Michael Holland, Janet Lloyd, and Thomas Scott-Railton for non-fiction! All my thanks to jury members Linda Asher, David Bellos, Linda Coverdale, Emmanuelle Ertel, and Lorin Stein. And most of all, to my publisher Wakefield Press!

Bits and Pieces

March 13th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink


  • At Necessary Fiction, in their Translation Notes series, a piece I wrote tracing the many challenges posed by a single very short story from Jean Ferry’s The Conductor and Other Tales, on his hero Raymond Roussel’s ascension to heaven (see above).
  • At Comic Book Resources, in an article by T.J. Dietsch, a recent interview I translated with Hub, on the occasion of his comic Okko: The Cycle of Fire being released in the U.S. by Archaia.
  • A translation for The New York Times from January: former Le Monde correspondent Sylvain Cypel’s thoughts on comedian Dieudonné and the larger spectre of European racism in “Deciphering the Quenelle.”
  • Josh Coblentz reviews Jean Ferry’s The Conductor and Other Tales for HTML Giant:

[T]he ultimate sensation one gets after reading this work, Ferry’s only collection of fiction, is that he’s not so easily lumped in with the surrealist or pataphysic movements that attempted to swallow him into their pigeonholes. Instead, as translator Edward Gauvin states in his introduction, “Ferry is the exception to every movement he’s been in,” a claim that ironically puts him further in line with the ideals of pataphysics …

This small yet potent collection has too much to discuss in one brief review… For fans of quirky, bleak, and short French fiction from the post-surrealist era, this book is a new must have.

Three Shadows at Reading Pictures

March 10th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Pedrosa's US Debut

Sometimes there’s a review that’s all the more in-depth for coming from outside the traditional media outlets. The educational outreach site Reading With Pictures was

founded in 2009 by award-winning graphic novelist and nationally syndicated cartoonist Josh Elder in order to revolutionize the role of comics in education…

At Reading With Pictures, we believe that comics have the potential to be more engaging, more efficient and more effective educational tools than traditional classroom materials.

A different, and in this case, lovingly detailed look at a book you’ve worked on is wonderful. Adrian Neibauer analyzes Cyril Pedrosa’s award-winning 2008 graphic novel Three Shadows, from FirstSecond:

I would highly recommend this book for any high-school literature classroom.  Certain sections can also be used in the middle grades (6-8) for discussing the graphic novel’s major theme of fate.  However, due to some mild language and non-sexualized nudity, THREE SHADOWS is best kept in high-school literature courses.

Neibauer divides his review into discussions of “Story” and “Art,” but does not neglect to mention in his first line that the comic is translated. Now how can we get translation as an aspect of comics into schools?

Here are some highlights:


THREE SHADOWS by Cyril Pedrosa and translated from French by Edward Gauvin is the saddest and most moving graphic novels I have ever read. Louis and Lise are a husband and wife who are raising their young son, Joachim, in an unnamed rural, European landscape. Their small family is filled with simple pleasures and lots of love as they work together on their farm. However, everything changes when three mysterious shadows appear on the horizon haunting the family. Never explicitly stated at first, we learn later that the shadows beckon for the young Joachim. Joachim’s father, Louis, flees with Joachim in a brave, yet foolish attempt to outrun his son’s fate: death.

Throughout the story, we learn just how far a parent would go to protect their child. Embedded within this story are deep and complex discussions about fate, life, and death; as well as plenty of opportunities for older readers to practice the skills of making inferences and predictions.



THREE SHADOWS is completely pencil-drawn. Pedrosa’s use of black and white charcoal prepares the reader for the dark tone of the story. Pedrosa is a former Disney artist/animator and this experience serves him well here. He writes little dialogue, yet conveys much action, movement, and emotion. he characters seem to animate themselves as you turn each page.

Pedrosa’s artwork forces the reader to stop and think. His attention to detail gives readers all the clues they need to make accurate predictions and to infer about the plot. Each page can be used as a talking point or a stand-alone example of the novel’s themes and symbols.

Geeks of Doom Praise Pachyderme

March 8th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink


RevN4 says:

This is book that begs multiple read-throughs. This is a piece of literature that needs to be discussed among friends. Peeters’ script and artwork communicates a dream-like state that simultaneously doesn’t and does make perfect sense. He has captured a dream in the form of a comic…

Readers who enjoy both literature and comics in the spirit of City of Glass and Ghost World will find much to enjoy in Pachyderme.