- 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 œuvre 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.
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:
The Mildred L. Batchelder Award is given to the most outstanding children’s book originally published in a language other than English in a country other than the United States, and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States.
The award was announced today by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), during the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Seattle. ALSC is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children, with a network of more than 4,000 children’s and youth librarians, literature experts, publishers and educational faculty.
A Game for Swallows: To Die, To Leave, To Return published by Graphic Universe, a division of Lerner Publishing Group was selected as a Batchelder Honor Book. From Macey Morales’ article in American Libraries Magazine:
Originally published in French in 2007 as “Mourir Partir Revenir: Le Jeu des Hirondelles,” “A Game for Swallows: To Die, To Leave, To Return,” was written and illustrated by Zeina Abirached, and translated by Edward Gauvin. In her graphic novel memoir, Abirached focuses on one night during the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990) during which she, her brother, and their neighbors huddle in the safest corner of their apartment sharing memories, food and comfort.
“Stark black and white illustrations strikingly depict a caring community formed during the grim reality of war, creating an unforgettable memoir,” said Batchelder Award Committee Chair Jean Hatfield.
Congratulations to Dial Books for winning 2013 Award with My Family for the War, written by Anne C. Voorhoeve, and translated from German by Tammi Reichel. Congratulations as well to the other Honor Book, Son of a Gun (Eerdmans Books) by Anne de Graaf, who translated it from Dutch herself.
All my thanks to the members of the 2013 Batchelder Award Committee: Chair Jean Hatfield, Wichita (Kan.) Public Library, Alford Branch; Diane E. Janoff, Queens Library – Poppenhusen, College Point, N.Y.; Sharon Levin, Children’s Literature Reviewer, Redwood City, Calif.; Erin Reilly-Sanders, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio; and Judith E. Rodgers, Wayzata Central Middle School, Plymouth, Minn.
Under the editorship of Olivia Snaijie, the Winter 2012-2013 issue of Harper’s Bazaar ART, an Arabian sister publication, generously affords a full page to a review of David B. and Jean-Pierre Filiu’s Best of Enemies, including the kindest of nods to my translation:
Italian comics master Sergio Toppi passed away in August. In December, Archaia released his first work in English, Sharaz-De, a retelling of the Thousand and One Arabian nights. It may seem odd that for a book of overwhelming visual appeal I’m going to do a largely imageless post, but the blog coverage has been so thorough that it’s a job best left to them. So please click through to be dazzled!
First, a preface from Illustrators’ Lounge apropos his passing:
Milanese illustrator Sergio Toppi began his career in advertising but by 1966 had moved into comics. Toppi accumulated a tremendous body of work during his career include titles such as Collezionista (“Collector”), Linus, Corto Maltese and many one-shot comics during his long-term collaboration with writer Il Giornalino. His style is unmistakeable, geometrically dominated with loose sketchy pencil work. A fantastic amalgamation of tone, patterns and texture.
At Comics Bulletin Jason Sacks has only the highest praise:
The word “visionary” is sometimes thrown around too liberally in the arts. I often find myself using the term to describe a creator whose work is just a bit different from the mainstream, innovative in small but interesting ways that move their medium ahead, or to the side, or at a distinct angle, but still within comfortable confines. It takes a certain kind of artist to reveal to me what it means to be a true visionary in the comics field.
Sergio Toppi is a true visionary, and his Sharaz-De: Tales from the Arabian Nights is a true visionary work. In all my years reading comics I’ve never read something quite as unique, odd and intriguing as this book.
The encomium continues in detail with Greg Burgas of Comic Book Resources:
It’s Toppi’s magnificent artwork, however, that makes this a must-buy. Walt Simonson wrote the foreword to this book, and it’s not surprising that Simonson writes about how much he loves Toppi’s work – Toppi is obviously a big influence in Simonson’s art. I don’t even know if I can write about his artwork well enough to do it justice. Toppi is amazingly detailed, as the desert world in which the book is set comes to magnificent life under his pen, and his use of swirling lines make it even more Asiatic and lustrous. This is an “Orientalist,” archaic view of the Arab world, but it’s still marvelous. Toppi’s characters are bold and striking, with a mixture of Semitic and African characteristics, and Toppi adorns them in gorgeous robes and armor and headgear that turn them into gods on earth, easily able to contend with the demons and djinn who also populate the book. He uses negative space beautifully, and his page compositions are superb – he uses panels, but he also often blends several scenes together in one splash page that remain remarkably easy to read. His creatures are beautiful – enormous and occasionally grotesque, but also marvelously ornate and perfectly suited for the magical world that Sharaz-De embroiders every night. Toppi experiments with some colors in the book, and those are wonderful, too – deep blues and purples and greens turn the desert at night into a mystical place, while the rich browns and yellows of the clothing during the day make the characters almost a part of the landscape. It’s an amazingly sensual book, packed with precise details and expansive vistas and fierce characters, and perhaps the only one who comes close in American comics is Simonson himself.
Publishers Weekly echoes these sentiments:
Two chapters are given over to vibrant watercolors, adding a psychedelic undertone to the tightly woven ink work elsewhere, as jinn, devils, and selfish men do battle upon the pages. Toppi does not use conventional comic panels, but allows his illustrations to sprawl behind and around them, with a singular illustration depicting multiple aspects of the story depending on where your eye first lands. A foreword from Walter Simonson pays tribute to the artist, who died in August, 2012. The Tales from the Arabian Nights may be well enough known, but Toppi’s unparalleled skill at twisting fine art, design, and comic book structure together render this a real treat.
And in the most recent review, Scott Vanderploeg of Comic Book Daily concurs:
Of course one look at the images included and you’ll see it’s Toppi’s art that steals the show. It’s beautifully done, detailed and immersive. The layout and design of the pages provide so much detail to the tale that it’s hard to tear yourself away to turn the page. Everything flows seamlessly, no matter what aspect of graphic storytelling used.
The latest incarnation of the annual Two Lines anthology from the Center for the Art of Translation is now out, available from Amazon and the Center itself. The cover is a marvel to behold. Inside, the book features the work of such poets and writers as Günter Grass, Adonis, Jose Manuel Prieto, George Szirtes, and Yoko Tawada, and such translators as Breon Mitchell, Esther Allen, Susan Bernofsky, Alison Anderson, and Karen Emmerich. The guest editors are the illustrious Margaret Jull Costa and Marilyn Hacker. It also includes a nifty two-pager by the incredible French comics artist François Ayroles, translated by yours truly. Because Chad Post is Chad Post, he already has a review up at Three Percent.
I would be remiss not adding that this lovely cover, which has caused acquaintances to fondle the book covetously, was the brainchild and handiwork of editor Annie Janusch, who does double world lit duty as the Works-In-Translation editor of The Quarterly Conversation. She’s been my point person at CAT for the last two years, and made the experience of contributing to Two Lines pleasurable and professional. Wouldn’t have happened without her. Three cheers!
This handsome volume fêtes its official launch on the following occasion (wish I could be there):
Monday, November 9: Book Release Party at LIMN Gallery » Read the rest of this entry «
Two new pieces up in the Words Without Borders “Foreign Correspondents” issue this month, one by Gébé and the other by François Vallejo. Gébé, a satirist after my own heart, looks into the mysterious activities of the International Bureau for Front Location, while Vallejo chronicles the 1988 fire that consumed the Chiado district of Lisbon.
Editorial cartoonist Gébé’s piece, featuring a short introduction by yours truly, is taken from his prose collection Not-Quite-Botched Dispatches (But a Hard Sell for the Nightly News), originally Reportages pas vraiment ratés mais difficile à vendre à France Soir, reprinted in 2001 by Le Diléttante (that last link for readers of French).
Charlito, of Indie Spinner Rack fame, and co-publisher of what is to date my only published comics work, has produced a handsome handmade card game from the natural effervescence of his irrepressible creative spirit and sheer infectious joy at our soon-to-be President. I am egregiously late about notifying the masses of it, but when I saw notice posted on my friend GB Tran’s blog, I thought Duh, why not be a copycat. I’m still in time for inauguration. Please go buy it. Feed Charlito.
With apologies to Andi Watson, Benjamin Parzybok, and Small Beer Press.