June 30th, 2015 § § permalink
Kamel Daoud by Claude Truong-Ngoc, February 2015
Kamel Daoud, whose debut The Meursault Investigation won the Prix Goncourt for First Novels and was excerpted in The New Yorker, weighs in on his native Algeria in the context of the Arab Spring in The New York Times with “The Algerian Exception,” translated by yours truly.
June 28th, 2015 § § permalink
A book I had a lovely time translating over the holidays last year is now available: Jean-Michel Billioud’s Paris au fil du temps, or Paris Through the Ages. This is the first pop-up book I’ve ever done, and working from pdfs as I did, I only later saw how it was meant to be fit together. It’s a pleasure to hold the finished product in my hands, made with such care and charm. Each two-page spread features the City of Lights at some point in its evolution, touching on such major eras as the Roman Lutetia, medieval Paris, Haussmann’s renovations, and the modern day. Flaps open out and wheels turn to provide captioned cutaways. Interactive, educational, and elegant, it’s a must-read before any family vacation in France. Both French and English versions are published by Gallimard (who offered me the standard royalty guaranteed translators in France. America has a lot to learn).
June 26th, 2015 § § permalink
Now available from PM Press: Sisters of the Revolution, a Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, which includes my translation of Belgian fabulist Anne Richter’s “The Sleep of Plants.” I’m delighted to have her appear in the context of such authors as L. Timmel Duchamp, Nalo Hopkinson, James Tiptree Jr., Catherynne Valente, Joanna Russ, Tanith Lee, Angela Carter, Ursula Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Nnedi Okorafor, Karin Tidbeck,
Kirkus Review‘s starred review says: “There is probably no better time for this anthology to emerge, as the SF/F world is rocked by a clash over the value of diverse voices. While the original dates of publication of these stories range from the 1970s to the current decade, and include both stalwarts of their respective genres and relative newcomers, they all feel fresh as ever. Touching on issues from surveillance, misogyny, and marriage to queerness, family dynamics, and gender fluidity… these stories, coming from a variety of genres, subgenres, and nonrealist traditions, are timeless and breathtaking in scope and power.”
At Tor.com, Mahvesh Murad says these stories do “exactly what you’d want them to—they tear apart cliches, they question gender and it’s implications, they look at identity using satire and humour and darkness with a sharp intellectual examination of stigma and society’s rules.”
June 24th, 2015 § § permalink
Now out in the latest issue of Tin House (#64, Summer Reading 2015), my first time translating a Nobel Prizewinner: Patrick Modiano’s “Page-a-Day,” a memory piece blending fact, fiction, and intimate Paris geography, like much of the writer’s work. The original title “Éphémeride,” despite its poetic appearance, refers to a fairly mundane object in France, a kind of calendar we have several names for in English: Page-A-Day, Day-to-Day, Day-By-Day, One-Day-At-A-Time, or simply block calendar. The more esoteric definition for it is an ephemeride, a kind of astronomical almanac, but I found no backing for that meaning in the text, so I eschewed it. I like to think my title—a certain wistfulness in the original perhaps replaced by hyphens—suits Modiano’s unfussy style in which the accumulation of down-to-earth and matter-of-fact detail becomes haunting. I considered other possibilities—the more prosaic “Almanac,” and “Ephemera,” which shifts the emphasis—I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion when the piece begins that these recollections are necessarily ephemera; it’s only their later disarray that makes them seem hopelessly lost and scattered to the narrator. One challenge of this piece was finding ways to slip in glosses of the very French material marginalia that does so much memory work in Modiano: locations, brand names, acronyms, cultural signifiers of recent history.