Posts by Lee Yew Leong

Our Fundraiser Is Now Live!

Help us bring you literature from the seven countries Trump intends to ban!

Johnny Depp was reported to have spent three million dollars firing Hunter S. Thompson’s ashes out of a canon; our endeavour is modest by comparison: we are aiming to raise at least $30,000 for an urgent showcase of marginalised voices to happen both in our Spring 2017 edition and at The Guardian (here’s an example of what you can look forward to). 20% of all proceeds will be donated directly to ACLU or Refugees Welcome. The more we raise the more we can do: e.g. a printed anthology of the work, a large-scale free event featuring these authors.

8books2

But wait, there’s more: support our campaign and you’ll receive specially autographed books by Junot Díaz, Yann Martel and George Szirtes, among others! Apart from the wide selection of books below, we’ll also give away, among our wide range of Asymptote memorabilia, a newly designed AsympTOTE—featuring artwork by the guest artist of our current issue, Dianna Xu. If you’re a loyal Asymptote supporter, you’ll certainly want to add this AsympTOTE to your collection. Don’t wait—donate to our fundraiser today!

newgeorge

Highlights of Our 2016 (Part II)

2016, a year of promoting global consciousness through world literature

6. We launched ‘Around the World with Asymptote’—a uniquely unfiltered weekly window on world literature

In many ways, 2016 was a year of promoting global consciousness through world literature. For a while now, we’ve been uniquely equipped to identify and present literary discoveries from around the world. This year, after blog editor Allegra Rosenbaum stepped down, we decided to tap our invaluable network of editors-at-large for a new initiative: weekly global briefings aggregating localized dispatches from around the world. Below is an exhaustive list of all 29 countries from six collective continents we have reported on and from (click on the hyperlinks to revisit!):

Argentina, Argentina | Australia | Bangladesh, Bangladesh | Canada, Canada | CubaCzech Republic | EcuadorEgypt | FranceHong Kong | HungaryIndia, India | Israel | IranMexicoNepal | NigeriaNordic Countries, Nordic Countries | PakistanRomania, Romania | Singapore, Singapore, Singapore | Slovakia, Slovakia | South Africa, South Africa, South Africa, South Africa | Spain, Spain | TaiwanTibet | UK, UKUS, USUS, US, US| Zambia

7. Reviews, reviews, reviews!

This was the year we hit our stride with our “What’s New in Translation?” column, which aggregates medium-length staff reviews of world literature’s latest offerings, to facilitate discovery: revisit the 35 reviews from our January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November instalments and watch for the December edition coming up next week! Along with the 15 reviews we published collectively in the Criticism section of our Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall quarterly issues, and 13 stand-alone reviews elsewhere on the blog, we’ve covered 68 world literature titles altogether in 2016.

8. Massive publicity coordination leads to unprecedented spike in traffic for Fall 2016 issue

With Anita Raja, László Krasznahorkai, Stefan Zweig, György Spiró and Nobel Prize winner Halldór Laxness in our lineup, as well as the need to publicize our upcoming translation contest judged by David Bellos and Sawako Nakayasu, we decided to announce the release of our Fall 2016 issue in a big way via:

  • Extensive social media promotion setting us back by about $500 USD
  • Video trailer (that I personally produced)
  • Newsletter announcing launch of issue
  • Publicity blitz on the day of launch
  • 4,000 postcards printed (with the contest announcement on the other side) and distributed in six continents (including at the annual American Literary Translators Association conference), costing around $500 USD
  • A quarter-page color ad in the print edition of The Times Literary Supplement (Oct 14 edition) and an online ad in their newsletter for the reduced rate of £900 ≈ $1,100 USD

To be honest, this was not money (or time) we could afford to spend (yes, we were going to receive a one-off grant of $8,400 USD from the National Arts Council of Singapore—our first and only grant in all these years—but this money was supposed to go toward covering the yawning deficit incurred from many years of promoting world literature). And who does video trailers for magazine issues anyway? Why bother? (*silent, eloquent gesture.* Tell us to unroll the red carpet elsewhere and we’ll do it.) Still, the issue got quite a bit of media attention (and hits) especially for the Anita Raja article, and that made it worth it.

9. We launch our first publicity packages specially tailored for publishers of world literature (or institutions invested in the promotion of their country’s literature)

15 March 2016 was a momentous day: I did something with Paypal that I’d never done before. I created an invoice from the Asymptote Journal account, charging for the first publicity package we ever sold. The idea for our business model was this: we would leverage our Translation Tuesday showcases at The Guardian, as well as the combined reach of our social media and our newsletters (more than 50,000 followers) to help publishers raise the visibility of their forthcoming or new releases, directly impacting book sales. Although the revenue received from partnering with 13 publishing houses in three continents all through 2016 is still nowhere near providing a full-time salary for any individual, the modest success of these publicity packages gives a glimmer of hope for Asymptote‘s long-term sustainability. If you belong to this specific target demographic and would like to take advantage of the channels we offer to raise the visibility of foreign authors in 2017 (while also supporting our mission), please take a look at this informational slideshow and get in touch! If you mention reading about this publicity package from this blog post, I’ll even offer you the 2016 introductory rate.

10. A year of invitations

In one of Lydia Davis’s very short stories, “The Fellowship,” she writes, “It is not that you are not qualified to receive the fellowship, it is that your patience must be tested first. Each year, you are patient, but not patient enough. When you have truly learned what it is to be patient, so much so that you forget all about the fellowship, then you will receive the fellowship.”

Being Singaporean, there’s no arts fellowship I’m eligible for (editing is still not recognized as a fundable activity according to the Singapore government, let alone an activity for which one receives a fellowship), but I have, in my capacity as Asymptote‘s editor-in-chief, received quite a few lovely invitations this year. Among them:

  • I judged the PEN International 2016 New Voices Award.
  • I spoke at a London Book Fair panel—my first—on “Discovering New Stories from Asia, Turkey, and Africa.” Although travel and accomodation were not part of the invitation, I was able to crash on the sofa of a university friend; the Translators Assocation of the Society of Authors in the UK also helped out with a travel subsidy for the onward part of the Taipei-London flight.
  • SUTD then paid for my onward flight from London to Singapore so that I could participate in a three-day conference on “The Art and Politics of Translation.” They also paid for my trip back to Taipei, which was great!

I make a point of mentioning all these travel arrangements (without which I am not able to take up the invitations), because I often get asked well-meaning questions along the lines of, “Asymptote‘s doing an event in ____; will I get to see you?” Yes, I’ve helped organize many global events (33 of them in fact), but I’m never actually present for them (unless I’m part of the panel itself), because of lack of funds. Back to the problem of perception I brought up in a prior blog post then: it must seem to our readers that we are coping financially, or even thriving, because we keep expanding our team and increasing our offerings. Ah, if only that were the case…

Thank you for keeping me company at the blog all through these three days, and a big thank you to all who were inspired to sign up as sustaining members over the past few days. Your generosity will give Asymptote extra lives to stay in the game. For those of you who are tempted to sign on, but vacillate still, please know that each additional sustaining member brings us closer to being able to operate beyond April 2017. And on top of everything your donation represents, it will also give us an invaluable psychological boost; that what we are doing makes a difference.

To end, here’s Forrest Gander on why Asymptote “contains the DNA for 21st century literary magazines.” A happy year-end from all of us at Asymptote!

Click here for Part I of “2016 Highlights.”

Highlights of Our 2016 (Part I)

Thanks to an incredible team behind me, 2016 was a startlingly good year for Asymptote.

1. Amazing scoops 

Where to begin? Interviews with Junot Díaz, Ann Goldstein, Yann Martel, László Krasznahorkai, Pierre Joris, Sawako Nakayasu and Ha Jin. Anita Raja‘s essay on “Translation as the Practice of Acceptance.” Sibylle Lacan on her psychoanalyst father, Jacques Lacan. Vicente Huidobro, one of the very first Latin American avant-garde poets. Jan Dammu and Rasool Yoonan, from the current issue. Hsia Yü. The visual artist and poet Caroline Bergvall. Rising fiction stars Youssef Rakha, Olga Tokarczuk, and Marek VadasPatrick Chamoiseau on Martiniquais writers. Experimental poems translated by Martin Rock and Joe Pan from the Japanese of Nenten Tsubouchi. Karina Lickorish Quinn‘s Spanglish contribution to our Multilingual Writing Special Feature. Drama by György Spiró. These were some of our favorite things.

2. Our eight events in three continents

This year, Asymptote celebrated its fifth anniversary by meeting readers in the flesh in three continents and five cities (New York, London, Ottawa, Chicago, Belgrade, and Hong Kong; photo documentation and event summaries can be found here). Attracting the biggest turnout with 165 attendees was the New York event held at The New School, featuring Ann Goldstein and Natasha Wimmer in conversation with Frederic Tuten. On the other side of the Atlantic, 2016 saw three Asymptote events at Waterstones, Piccadilly, in March, July, and September. The last, organized in honor of International Translation Day, had Adam Freudenheim, Laura Barber, Deborah Smith, and Laura Barber speaking to a sold-out room of 70, with moderator Jonathan Ruppin saying afterwards that Asymptote had become “a real force in London.”

3. Our partnership with The Guardian turns one

Promoted to The Guardian’s international readership, beyond the small circle of world literature aficionados, Asymptote’s showcase at The Guardian represents, for translators, an unparalleled reach in the English-speaking world. As editor of Translation Tuesdays, I either commissioned new work or partnered with publishing houses to present fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from five continents and twenty-nine countries (including underrepresented ones like Andorra, Uzbekistan, Singapore, Iran, and Congo). In curating for diversity, I attempted to correct a Eurocentric bias that has hitherto characterized the canon (European work accounted for just 41% of this year’s lineup; find the full breakdown by continent and country here). Watch this space for our final Translation Tuesday showcase of 2016 next week, where we present an extract of “Mountain of Light” by Akutagawa Prize winner Gen’yū Sōkyū, translated especially for the occasion by contributing editor Sim Yee Chiang.

4. We gave away $4,500 to six emerging translators

This year, we upped the ante and added one more category to our translation contest: Nonfiction. Awarding $4,500 USD (up from $3,000 in 2014) in prizes to six best emerging translators working into English were esteemed judges Michael Hofmann, Ottilie Mulzet and Margaret Jull Costa; additionally, we arranged with The Guardian to present the top entries in each category over three consecutive Tuesdays (one of them, Sean Gasper Bye’s translation of Filip Springer’s extraordinary History of a Disappearancewas even shared 2,275 times, attesting to the newspaper’s incredible reach). Note: this is now an annual contest, with the deadline for the next edition coming up Feb 1, 2017! As with the 2016 edition, we will also be arranging for the winning entries to be showcased in The Guardian, allowing them to be noticed the world over, and possibly launching careers. Find the details here.

5. Daniel Hahn became our resident Agony Uncle for a year

Fielding questions from curious/mystified international readers, Daniel Hahn presided over a monthly column for one entire year. (His last contribution here contains hyperlinks to all previous columns.) Along the way, he ruffled feathers and sparked controversy by opining that translators’ names needn’t necessarily be featured on covers. But mostly, Daniel’s very popular ‘Ask a Translator’ edified and entertained. When I reached out personally to thank Lin Falk van Rooyen for signing up as a sustaining member recently, she even singled out Daniel’s feature for praise:

As a translator I have personally benefitted greatly from Asymptote’s in-depth, inspiring, informative (esp. ‘Ask a Translator’ by the ever sincere, ever astute Daniel Hahn), essential and yes—ambitious!—endeavour to promote and disseminate world literature. 

Part II of ‘Highlights’ continues tomorrow.

***

Join Lin Falk van Rooyen in standing behind our mission: become a sustaining member today! Each additional membership takes us closer to being able to operate beyond April 2017. Or, if you are American, consider a one-time tax-deductible donation via our Fractured Atlas Page. 

 

A look back at 2016’s content

A year of wanderlust in fiction, poetry, nonfiction, drama, visual art, and interviews!

Thanks for joining me at the blog! Before we get into the highlights proper, I thought it fitting to take a look at the number of countries we featured this year, or, rather, will have featured this year.

After next week, Asymptote will have published 170 articles (in nine different sections) via our Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall quarterly issues and 51 Translation Tuesday showcases at The Guardian.

Number of countries featured in the journal in 2016: 68

Number of countries featured in Translation Tuesdays in 2016: 29

Here are the breakdowns for each by continent and country:

asymptote2017tally2
READ MORE…

On Editing an English Literary Journal as a Person Of Color

The matter-of-fact, even slightly cheerful, answer: "Have your characters come to the US!"

Hello! (Taps mic…) Our regular blog editors Madeline, Hanna and Nina are on leave today, so I’ll be guest-blogging to continue our daily programming. My name is Yew Leong (yes, that’s two words for my first name) and I’m the Singaporean editor working behind the scenes of the magazine since 2010. I’m thirty-nine this year (the photo of me, above, was taken in a yakisoba restaurant when I was thirty-six).

Some details of how I came to found the journal are mentioned in the interview I share below, so I won’t get into that here. What I will say to preface my breaking the fourth wall is this: After July 2011, I stopped signing the quarterly issues’ editor’s notes at least partly because, as the only full-time member at Asymptote, I didn’t want to overshadow the team’s collective efforts (for the same reason, I also declined to be videoed for our first-ever Indiegogo campaign). For several years thereafter, all editor’s notes were simply ascribed to “The Editors.”

In July 2016, I decided to sign my name after the editor’s note again: Prior to that, I’d seen Asymptote being written off as a mere “platform” by a prominent translator, but specifically in the derogatory sense of “editor X used the platform Asymptote to do Y” (Y being a massive translation project, requiring coordination across the different roles), as if all I had done was create a free-for-all Facebook or Twitter-like interface for providers of world literature. That could not be further from the truth: there is someone leading the magazine (although hopefully not off a cliff!), someone with a vision to boot, not merely a loose collective of editors, contributing whatever they’d like to contribute.

Secondly, I’d started wondering if, by not putting myself out there a little more, I had become complicit in, let’s just say, a certain racial oppression. This year, after six years of editing the magazine, I was happy to be invited to my first London Book Fair panel (actually any event that wasn’t organized by Asymptote, although, as its editor-in-chief, I have played varying roles toward making 33 world literature events happen in four continents), and I remain eternally grateful to the Translators’ Association of the Society of Authors in the UK for subsidizing my trip there (as I could not afford the flight ticket otherwise).

But, few know that, in 2014, about five years into helming the magazine, and surviving those five years by wearing many different hats to keep the journal going, an invitation was received by someone on the team to represent Asymptote at an international conference, with the offer to be flown in from wherever. The invitation was sent to a part-time White Assistant Managing Editor who’d been on board less than seven months, who actually lived further away from the conference than me, based on her current city at that time. I’d left the US many years ago to avoid being an invisibilized person of color, specifically in a literary environment (Junot Díaz and Ken Chen talk about this issue very eloquently), and suddenly there I was being overlooked again.

READ MORE…

Q&A with Polina Barskova, editor of Written in the Dark

For me, this anthology presents a great lesson of humanity.

Today, we feature editor-in-chief Lee Yew Leong in conversation with Polina Barskova, scholar of the devastating Siege of Leningrad, in which as many as one million perished from famine. Working with a team of historians and translators on “miraculous” archival material, Barskova produced Written in the Dark, an important human testament of its time. After reading this interview, be sure to check out a selection of works from the anthology which we arranged with The Guardian to showcase on a recent Translation Tuesday

Your project presents a literary phenomenon that has been “unknown even to Russian readers for 70 years,” according to the introduction accompanying the anthology. Can you give our (mostly non-Russian) readers a bit of background into the dire circumstances that resulted in the writing gathered here? Why was it unknown for 70 years, even in its native Russia?

The Siege of Leningrad (1941-1944) was a complex disaster indeed, resulting in around one million deaths from famine. But yet another dire consequence was Soviet power doing everything possible to conceal the humanitarian catastrophe that happened in the city. For decades, only the Soviet version of the heroic fight could be published; all other voices and opinions were suppressed. The poems collected here present the human suffering, not the official version of heroism.

Your work as a scholar on the Siege undoubtedly helped you unearth these important poems, whose survival has been called a “miracle.” Can you shed some light on the discovery, and the process of presenting an English anthology?

This anthology is a collective effort: many scholars worked to unearth and preserve and interpret these texts. My job was mainly to put them together, to organize them into one coherent poetic and historical statement. It is mainly due to the families and disciples of these poets that these texts have survived. In every case, their survival is a miracle.

And with this feeling of awe I’ve been talking about the anthology both in the West and in Russia, and curiously very different audiences receive the book with equal enthusiasm.

READ MORE…

Translation Tuesday: “Look at Winter in a Certain Way” by Chou Meng-tieh

all fallen leaves are destined to return to their branches

Today is #GivingTuesday! If you’ve been enjoying our Translation Tuesday showcases at the Asymptote blog and on The Guardian, consider signing up to be a sustaining member at just $5 a day. We’re still several members short of reaching our target; each additional membership helps us get closer to being able to continue beyond April 2017.

For today’s showcase, we’re thrilled to present poetry by the celebrated poet Chou Meng-tieh, named the first Literature Laureate by Taiwan’s National Culture and Arts Foundation in 1997. But his literary achievement belied a lifetime of monastic poverty, decades of which he spent selling books out of a roadside stall. Two years after Chou’s passing in 2014, without any surviving family, our editor-in-chief presents a new translation of one of Chou’s seminal poems, marked by his characteristically ascetic vision.

look at winter in a certain way

 

look at winter in a certain way

start from sunlight—

clumps of parasites up to no good

puncturing holes in snow’s body

READ MORE…

Asymptote’s Pushcart Prize Nominations

It's that time of year, and we're proud to recognize six wonderful pieces of literature!

We are thrilled to nominate the following six articles published during the past year for the Pushcart Prize. Please join us in giving a round of applause to both the authors and translators behind these incredible pieces.

At 997 words, Pedro Novoa’s devastating short story, “The Dive”, won Peru’s “Story of 1,000 Words” contest. Translating this nautical thriller cum family saga into English, George Henson made it an Oulipian exercise by keeping the English text under 1,000 words as well. Shimmering with poignancy, the multi-layered story delivers a powerful allegory about the blood ties that bind even when broken—the concatenation of islands we will nevertheless always be.

“To translate means, therefore, not only to exercise extreme vigilance over the movements of the original text, but above all to scrutinize the limits of one’s own language, as it creeps up to the original.” Via co-translators Rebecca Falkoff and Stiliana Milkova, Anita Raja’s magnificent essay frames “Translation as a Practice of Acceptance ” and argues that the translator’s greatest resource must be her own inventiveness.

READ MORE…

Dig Deeper into Our Fall 2016 Issue

Selected highlights in the new issue from Asymptote section editors!

Last week, we launched “Verisimilitude,” our star-studded Fall 2016 edition. Since then, we’ve been overwhelmed by the critical reception: A Public Space called the issue “a gold mine of work from 31 countries” while The Chicago Review of Books proclaimed it “f**ing gorgeous.” Among the never-before-published work by both well known and emerging translators, writers, and visual artists we presented in this quarterly issue, Anita Raja’s essay on translation made The Literary Hub‘s Best of the Week roundup. Thank you so much and do please keep spreading the word so we can connect our authors with even more readers! This week, to guide your exploration of the new issue, some of our editors contribute highlights from their respective sections. Follow them from Ireland to Iraq to Mexico to Korea and back again.

yum

Tactile Translations, Stefana McClure. Review: Eva Heisler, Visual Editor.

Using sources as various as a Japanese translation of The Little Prince, Samuel Beckett’s Molloy, or a U.S. government redacted report on “enhanced interrogation techniques,” artist Stefana McClure slivers printed matter and re-employs it as material with which to construct her enigmatic objects: stones wrapped in paper; a ball wound of the paper shreds of a novel; a nearly black “drawing” knit from redacted texts. Carmen Hermo’s conversation with McClure delves into the thinking and process behind the artist’s “tactile translations.”

READ MORE…

Translator’s Profile: Jeffrey Green

Our editor-in-chief talks with Jeffrey Green, the translator of Nir Baram's Good People

First of all, congratulations on the very fine translation, which I can recommend to Asymptote‘s readers without the slightest reservation. I was quite impressed by the deftness of your rendering; I found the book ‘unputdownable,’ riveted as I was by your skillful reconstruction in English of Nir Baram’s adman, and the meteoric ascent of his career in 1930s Germany. In fact, other than the odd German word or two every page, the writing didn’t seem to bear any trace of translation, for me at least, as I found it working perfectly well in English, both in terms of the story’s sitcom-like pacing and the sharp, precise English. I’m curious to know how much was lost in translation?

I’m grateful for your compliments, and I’m also very grateful to the editors at Text Publishing in Australia, who went over the manuscript with meticulous care and fine literary judgment. I always had the feeling that they were working with me (and Nir), not against me, with the aim of producing the most readable book possible. I’m glad you think that we succeeded.

With regard to this translation, I benefited from Nir’s input. Translators into English are fortunate, in that the authors they translate usually known the language, so they can correct misunderstandings, notice sentences that one has skipped, etc. Of course, this has a downside as well, because some writers (even Nir on occasion) think they know English better than their translator. Also, the writer always has the feeling that something has been lost, his voice, in the transition into another language. It must be somewhat distressing to hear one’s voice differently from the way one imagined it. On the other hand, sometimes writers discover things about their work when they see it in translation. But they have to accept loss of control inherent in the process of translation.

READ MORE…

What’s New with the Asymptote team

This month, catch Asymptote's editor-in-chief at the London Book Fair and at SUTD's Translation Symposium!

Senior Editor (Chinese) Chenxin Jiang spoke on the panel “I’m Not Dead Yet: Translating Living Authors” with Jason Grunebaum, Anna Rosenwong, and Cole Swensen, at AWP in Los Angeles. An excerpt of her translation of Ji Xianlin’s The Cowshed: Memories of the Chinese Cultural Revolution was featured in The Atlantic.

Assistant Editor K. T. Billey‘s translations of Icelandic poet Bragi Ólafsson have been published in Circumference. Her poetry collection “Vulgar Mechanics” is a finalist for Lincoln Center Fordham’s Poets Out Loud publication prize. Her poem “Self-Portrait, Skull & Ornament” has been shortlisted for Arc Magazine‘s Poem of the Year—vote on the Reader’s Choice Awards here! Her poetry will also be featured in the inaugural Brooklyn Poet’s Anthology forthcoming from Brooklyn Arts Press in 2017.

From 30 December to 4 April, Editor-at-Large for Slovakia Julia Sherwood accompanied Polish writer Hubert Klimko-Dobrzaniecki on a US reading tour with his novella Lullaby for a Hanged Man (translated by Julia and Peter Sherwood and published by Calypso Editions in December 2015). The tour included events at the Word bookstore in Brooklyn, Boston University and UNC Chapel Hill. Next week, on April 12, Julia will be speaking at the London Book Fair on a panel entitled “Non-native Translation: Is It Time to Rethink Where Good Translations Come From?”

Also participating in a London Book Fair panel is Editor-in-Chief Lee Yew Leong, who will talk about “Discovering Stories in Turkey, Asia and Africa” on April 13, and then about “The Politics of Translation” at Singapore University of Technology and Design’s Translation Symposium on April  21.

Romania & Moldova Editor-at-Large MARGENTO saw to the publication in Romanian translation of Ryan Mihaly’s interview with Richard Zenith from our October 2015 issue in Asymptote’s new Romanian partner journal, Observator Cultural.  Also in Romania, after an informal interview with MARGENTO, poet and editor Violeta Savu published in the literary magazine Ateneu a presentation of Asymptote covering the Romanian writers featured so far in our journal and also reviewing our latest issue, a contribution also made available online on the writer’s blog.

New Executive Assistant Theophilus Kwek’s third collection of poetry, Giving Ground, was launched in Singapore by Ethos Books. His review of Seamus Heaney’s new translation of Aeneid VI was published in the Oxford Culture Review, and three of his poems were featured in Coldnoon, the international journal of travel writing.

Last month, Indonesia Editor-at-Large Tiffany Tsao published an essay on Eka Kurniawan’s novels Man Tiger and Beauty is a Wound in the Sydney Review of Books .

What’s New with the Asymptote Team

The latest from Asymptote's own

For his collection of short stories, 37 Bridges, contributing editor Aamer Hussein won the KLF/Embassy of France prize for Best Fiction at the Karachi Literature Festival.

Contributing editor Adrian West’s translation of Pere Gimferrer’s Fortuny (of which the first chapter appeared in Asymptote in January 2013) has just been published by David R. Godine. Read Adrian’s Q&A with Scott Esposito and his interview with Pere Gimferrer himself for World Literature Today.

For his translation of Viola Di Grado’s Hollow Heart, contributing editor Antony Shugaar was shortlisted for the 2016 PEN Translation Prize.

Brazil editor-at-large Bruna Lubato wrote an essay about the literary significance of postcards for the Ploughshares blog and also contributed to a feature, “Reading the World,” for the book review supplement of China’s Economic Observer.

Drama Editor Caridad Svich had the world premiere of her play Agua de Luna (psalms for the rouge) at Matrix Theatre in Detroit under Sherrine Azab’s direction. Find out more here.

Contributing editor Ellen Elias-Bursac recently published two reviews: one of Miljenko Jergović’s The Walnut Mansion, and the other one of Julian Borger’s The Butcher’s Trail: The Secret History of the Balkan Manhunt for Europe’s Most-Wanted War Criminals. READ MORE…

Margaret Atwood Wants You to Support Our Year-End Fundraiser!

Only three days and exactly $1,220 left to go! Donate to our fundraiser today.

A MESSAGE FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

This year was a big one for us at Asymptote! We won the 2015 London Book Fair Award for International Literary Translation Initiative and became the only member of The Guardian‘s Books Network dedicated to world literature. For the second year running, we made it to Entropy’s Best Magazines of the Year list, for doing “particularly exciting & generous things.” This was also the year we were mentioned in The New York Times, interviewed by Lianhe Zaobao, and praised in Der Tagesspeigel.

With your support, we were able to continue publishing our quarterly issues, as well as a monthly podcast, a daily blog, and our brand-new fortnightly airmails (with Daniel Hahn’s very popular column, “Ask a Translator”). Apart from releasing our first-ever educator’s guide, enabling teachers everywhere to use us as a classroom resource, we also kept our promise and organized a second edition of our international translation contest (still ongoing!). Judges Michael Hofmann, Ottilie Mulzet and Margaret Jull Costa will help us award $4,500 to six emerging translators.

Now, we’re raising funds to hold our most ambitious series of anniversary events around the world yet.

321

From January 2016 to April 2016, we are planning as many as 15 anniversary events around the globe, spread out over 5 continents. Confirmed participants include Ann Goldstein (translator of Ferrante), Forrest Gander (translator of Neruda), Natasha Wimmer (translator of Bolaño) and cult author Frederic Tuten in New York (Thursday, Mar 3, 2016), as well as acclaimed poet Caroline Bergvall in London (Wednesday, Mar 23, 2016). With our extensive experience (all previous 26 events documented here) we’re looking to curate a series of thoughtful readings and panel discussions in the name of promoting literary translation and world literature. All the money that we raise will go into organizing and publicizing these events, as well as marketing our fifth anniversary issue, so that even more readers can take advantage of our ever-expanding archive of world lit.

Junot Díaz, Yann Martel, Ingo Schulze and Sybille Lacan (daughter of the famous semiotician) have all contributed new and exclusive material to this milestone issue. And, for the first time in our pages, we will feature work from Uzbek, Mongolian, Guyanese and Sumerian, bringing our language tally up to 101—truly an achievement worth celebrating!

Reserve your tickets to our anniversary events with a donation now, if you’ve enjoyed what we’ve brought you this year. Support us so that we can bring our global conversation to a new city and give our fifth anniversary issue wings to reach more readers.

Furthermore the psychological boost that your donation represents (we’re all volunteers, remember) will help us carry on = PRICELESS.

Donate to Asymptote today.

An Interview with Nicky Harman from Paper Republic

Read Paper Republic has been publishing one new Chinese fiction per week since June 2015. Our editor-in-chief talks with Nicky Harman about it.

Yesterday’s Translation Tuesday article was jointly published with Paper Republic, a collective of literary translators promoting new Chinese fiction in translation. Their new initiative, Read Paper Republic, is for readers who wonder what new Chinese fiction in English translation has to offer and would like to dip a toe in the water. Between June 18, 2015 and June 16, 2016, Read Paper Republic is publishing a complete free-to-view short story (or essay or poem) by a contemporary Chinese writer, one per week for a year, 52 in total. Readers can browse them for free, on their computer, tablet or phone.

Our editor-in-chief, Lee Yew Leong, conducted a Skype interview with Nicky Harman, one of the founders of this new initiative, to find out more.

Lee Yew Leong: How did the idea for Read Paper Republic come about?

Nicky Harman: Well, we as translators are aware that our own passion for Chinese lit and our work doesn’t always match the general reading public’s interest so we decided on a project that would (a) bring a wide selection of contemporary work to readers, and (b) have a finite term, i.e. it wouldn’t go on forever so we could feel able to put all our energies into it. And we chose short stories because although they are an under-appreciated form in the West, they are nice and short (by definition!) and complete and Chinese writers write very good ones.

LYL: Who is “we” in this case?

NH: We’re Helen Wang and myself in London, and Eric Abrahamsen and Dave Haysom in Beijing. Eric, of course, founded Paper Republic, but we’ve worked as a collective for some time, and were all keen to revitalise the site. Dave is editor of Pathlight and was a brilliant addition to our team because of his editing skills.

LYL: All of you are also united by one thing: you’ve either contributed to Asymptote or taken part in an Asymptote event!

NH: Indeed. Asymptote has been a great inspiration to translators, and very deserving of the London Book Fair Award for International Literary Translation Initiative it got this year. READ MORE…