Posts filed under 'News'

What’s New with the Crew? A Monthly Update

Awards, publications, and readings—our team members have been keeping busy!

Writers on Writers Section Editor Ah-reum Han’s fiction, The Blind Bride, published in Okey-Panky, was recognized in The Wigleaf Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions of 2017.

Assistant Blog Editor Aurvi Sharma was interviewed by Wasafiri. She was also awarded a Bread Loaf-Rona Jaffe Foundation Scholarship and her essay, Hymns for the Drowning appeared in Pleiades Magazine.

Criticism Editor Ellen Jones published a review of Juan Carlos Márquez’s novel Tangram, translated by James Womack, in the Glasgow Review of Books. 

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Weekly Dispatches from the Frontlines of World Literature

If you're wondering what's happening in the world of literature, you've come to the right place

This week brings us the latest, most exciting news from Austria, Taiwan and the United States. Contributor Flora Brandl gives us a taste of what Austria’s literary festivals have in store for us; Editor-at-Large Vivian Szu-Chin Chih shares the wonderful news about same-sex marriage in Taiwan and its connection with literature; Educational Arm Assistant Reverie Powell serves up some fantastic and diverse performances taking place in the United States. 

Contributor Flora Brandl reporting from Austria: 

In Salzburg, the city’s annual literature festival took place this May. Among its most renowned guests were the actor Bruno Ganz, who read excerpts from the deceased Swiss author Robert Walser, and the Salzburg-based, Georg Büchner Preis-winning author Walter Kappacher, who read some of his own unpublished fragments. Other authors featured in the five-day festival were Kirsten Fuchs, Nico Bleutge and Franz Schuh.

In Vienna, the multicultural and interdisciplinary art festival Wiener Festwochen is currently showcasing a number of performances, theatre productions, installations and exhibitions. With this year’s overarching theme of diversity, most works dedicate themselves to pertinent contemporary issues such as postcolonialism and global conflict. The play Während ich wartete (‘While I Was Waiting’, performed in Arabic with English subtitles), by the Syrian director Omar Abusaada and dramatist Mohammad Al Attar, portrays the story of a family as it comes to reflect larger military, political, cultural and generational conflict in Syria. The production has been touring Europe for a year, albeit with a heavily alternating cast: some actors had not yet completed their own asylum processes and were lacking the necessary papers to perform.

The 48-hour performance by Spanish artist Santiago Sierra was also showcased at the Wiener Festwochen. Bearing one of Sierra’s characteristically self-revealing titles, his performance The Names of those Killed in the Syrian Conflict, between 15th of March 2011 and 31st of December 2016 aims to attach individual identities to the many nameless war victims of those images that circulate in our media. Researched by a team of Brazilian academics, Sierra’s reading of names (accompanied by images projected to a wall) toured Tel Aviv, Vienna, London and Buenos Aires. The performance was accessible not only to a number of local spectators, but also to virtual audiences around the globe who were following it online, ensuring that the humanitarian toll taken on the Syrian population is neither overlooked nor forgotten.

Vivian Szu-Chin Chih, Editor-at-Large, reports from Taiwan:

May 24 marked a milestone in Taiwan: the Constitutional Court ruled that the constitution should serve to protect the rights for same-sex marriage. This unprecedented and long-awaited decision has made Taiwan the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage. Taiwan’s fight for the legalization of same-sex marriage has lasted for decades and has taken an arduous journey, one which has been reflected through the country’s literature. Last Words from Montmartre, a novel composed by the notable Taiwanese lesbian writer, Chiu Miao-Jin, who took her own life at the age of twenty-six, as well as Pai Hsien-Yung’s fiction depicting the condition of gays in Taipei in the 1960s, Crystal Boys, are again being widely reread and discussed.

From the last Saturday of May until early July, Prof. Li-Chuan Ou of the Department of Chinese Literature in National Taiwan University will be speaking about Chinese Tang poets and classical Chinese poetry at Kishu An. On June 17, the two Taiwanese doctors under forty will give a joint talk on how they have been striking a balance between their vocations and passion towards writing, together with the everyday realities they face in hospital that have been recorded through their writing. Kishu An will also host an exhibition and a series of related talks to pay tribute to the great Chinese writer, publisher, and translator, Ba Jin, starting from mid-June.

From mid-May to July, the winners of 2016 Taiwan Literature Award are touring around the island to share their experiences of writing. The themes of their speeches span from restoring Taiwanese history through historical novels, to aboriginal poetry about the natural landscapes of Taiwan to the world, to silencing and violence in theatre.

Reverie Powell, Educational Arm Assistant, reports from the United States:

Wordspace in conjunction with the South Dallas Cultural Center, presented poet, performer, and librettist, Douglas Kearney on May 25 in the third season of the reading series, African Diaspora: New Dialogues . Much like the Sankofa, a bird that simultaneously looks backward and forward, Kearney embeds the past, present, and future of African Americans into his work exploring themes important to African Americans such as the reality of being threatened and being ‘threatening’ as well as the historical pressure to ‘signify’ one’s identity. Kearney samples hip hop lyrics, rewrites the myth of Stagger Lee, who kills Bill Lyons for stomping on his sometimes magical, sometimes expensive hat, and sentences him to twelve Herakles-like labors.

Additionally, Dallas’s Mark David Noble is “listening to the arts community” with his new podcast, Wordwire, which broadcasts local performances and interviews giving listeners inside peeks at various authors’ creative processes from inception to delivery.

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Weekly Dispatches from the Frontlines of World Literature

I wrote whenever anything struck me. As I started to write, I began to revive little by little, from my fingernails to my hair.

Happy Friday, readers! The Asymptote team has some exciting news: starting this week, we will be replacing our Friday literary news round-up with a more diverse and decidedly international column, brought to you by our team members around the world. We’ll have the latest and most pertinent updates on the literary scenes from various regions each week, from national trends to local events. This is your one-stop, world tour!

Starting this week in India, Poorna Swami, Editor-at-Large for India, updates us by region:

Noted Assamese poet Nalinidhar Bhattacharya passed away on September 2 in Guwahati at the age of 95. The Sahitya Akademi Award winner’s books include five poetry collections, five essay collections, and even a translation of Dr. Zhivago into Assamese.

But while the country lost a literary great, it also regained one. Tamil writer Perumal Murugan ended his self-determined literary exile on August 22. His reentry in to the literary world comes a year and a half after he publicly declared to quit writing because his book, Madhorubhagan [One-Part Woman], faced attacks from Hindu fundamentalist and caste-based groups. He had said on his Facebook page: “Perumal Murugan the writer is dead. As he is no God, he is not going to resurrect himself.”

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“Literary Controversies” by Alberto Chimal

“Barroom squabbles,” some (writers) have called them. One must ask, however, the reason for such indifference.

In recent days there have been not one, not two, but three controversies among Mexican writers, in which some very serious issues have been raised, even beyond questions of aesthetics: the use of public resources, class discrimination, corruption, racism. However, the news of the day has been dominated by Mexico’s national soccer team’s defeat in a match against Chile (the score: 7-0). Or perhaps the Father’s Day holiday. Or, for those who follow such things, the death of Anton Yelchin, a young Hollywood actor.

Not even the brutal repression of dissident teachers at the hands of armed federal forces in Nochixtlán, Oaxaca, seems to merit as much debate, despite the seriousness of the event (to the point that the official communiqués either distort or minimize it, and important aspects of it are appearing first online or outside Mexico). But amid these news items, and those to emerge in the coming days, the three literary debates that I mentioned will soon be forgotten: they are but more filler in the news cycles on social media and the few other media outlets that have reported them.

What is certain is that these conflicts matter to almost no one: they do not resonate with anyone more than with the colleagues of those implicated, who jump in to defend a polemicist, to attack another, to complain about the general state of national literature (or the discussions of national literature); however, they barely manage to make themselves noticed beyond their own circles of friends.

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Weekly News Roundup, 1 July 2016: Among Other Things

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Happy first-of-July Friday, Asymptote! This week, annoyingly talented polyglot Vladimir Nabokov’s letters reveal—what, exactly? Marital discord and a whole lot of influence from his wife, Véra (among other things).

And the novel may be changing, but that’s a good thing. A dystopian novel written during the  protests in the Ukraine—on Facebook, no less—will be translated into English (and published as a book). Good thing it’ll be published—and translated—by actual human beings, as computer-driven writers and translators aren’t quite up to the task just yet. And Palestinian and Israeli poets protest the house arrest of Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour, who is punished for an “inflammatory” poem. READ MORE…

Weekly News Roundup, 3 June 2016: Superstar Contributorstars

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Happy Friday, Asymptote!

All translation is approximate, but we don’t always like to think so. “Approximate Translation” is a performance that grapples with intelligibility, performing sections of Ouyang Jianghe’s poem Between Chinese and English. And speaking of canny approximation, the Los Angeles Review of Books‘ “Multilingual Wordsmiths” series continues with Ann Goldstein, past journal interviewee and translator of Italian fever-phenom Elena Ferrante. READ MORE…

Weekly News Roundup, 27 May 2016: Scrabble Champs

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Happy Friday, Asymptote readers! Nearly a year ago, the Asymptote blog published an interview with book artist Katie Holten, who “translated books into trees” with her Broken Dimanche Press book, About Trees Now that very same book is in its second printing—a feat that is seriously nothing to sniff at in independent, artist-book publishing! And famed translator-slash-friend-of-Asymptote-anniversaries Edith Grossman is featured in the Los Angeles Review of Books‘ “Multilingual Wordsmiths” series, in an interview by Liesl SchillingerREAD MORE…

Weekly News Roundup, 20 May 2016: Oh Man, Book!

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Hey Asymptote, happy Friday! This week’s big news is big for everyone in lit, not just translation—but we translators are extra chuffed. The Man Booker International Prize is one that’s raised the visibility of books in translation (perhaps contributing to the last week’s reported overall increase in translation sales?), and this year’s winner—Korean author Han Kang’s The Vegetarian, translated by Deborah Smith—is no exception. Pore through the journal for an essay by Smith, on “Translating Human Acts,” Kang’s latest translated tome, an altogether difficult translatorial endeavor.

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Weekly News Roundup, 13 May 2016: My Niece, Johanna Bach

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Happy lucky Friday, Asymptote friends! If you’re feeling unlucky, Google might suggest otherwise. But translators (and their authors, if they aren’t Anglophone) are certainly feeling lucky—or at least relieved, as the Guardian dropped the spectacular news this week that translated titles sell better than their untranslated counterparts. And publishing in translation has grown overall—while the rest of the literary industry struggles (perhaps it’s all this IKEA writing)… READ MORE…

Weekly News Roundup, 6 May 2016: The Best. Translated. Book.

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Happy Friday, Asymptote! The biggest news this week is that of the official announcement of Three Percent‘s Best Translated Book Award winners, so we won’t keep you waiting: in the fiction category, Mexican novelist Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World, translated by Lisa Dillman, took home top honors (you can read a review the blog published preceding the award here—we totally called it). And in the poetry category, Rilke Shake by Brazilian author Angélica Freitas and translated by Hilary Kaplan snagged top honors. Big congratulations to the winning writers, translators, publishers, editors, and readers! READ MORE…

Weekly News Roundup, 29th April 2016: 400 Years Without Cervantespeare

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Hey, happy Friday, Asymptote! This week marks two extra-special, European four-hundred-year anniversaries: it’s the week of Spanish literary icon Miguel de Cervantes’ death, and there’s all sorts of commemoration: Spain celebrated the Don Quixote author with national celebrations and literary awards, but if you’re unable to make it in person, take a virtual trip to La Mancha. And English poet/thespian/legend William Shakespeare, too, died four hundred years ago (1616 was a killer year, huh?), so the commemorations are similarly virtual and literal (in case you’re curious, here’s a Proust Questionnaire with the Bard). And lest you forget (as much of Shakespeare and Cervantes can be found in the open domain) April 23 was also the UNESCO’s world book copyright day.

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Weekly News Roundup, 22 April 2016: NEWruda, Pulitzer,

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Happy Friday, Asymptote friends! Our new issue is all of a week old, but if you haven’t dived in yet, be sure to start with the blog’s issue highlights—which features the Close Approximations Prize-winning piece by translator-poets Kelsi Vanada and Marie Silkeberg, who are also featured this week in an interview on the blog.

We’ve been promised more work from Chilean poet-diplomat Pablo Neruda for longer than I can remember, but it looks like new work of his might finally see the light of (published) day. Also from Chile: artist Cecilia Viduña is featured on the Poetry Foundation’s “Harriet” blogREAD MORE…

Weekly News Roundup, 15th April 2015: So. Many. Shortlists.

This week's highlights from across the world

Happy Friday, Asymptoters! This Friday’s an especially good one, because if we’ve timed the post correctly, because it means a new issue is totally live! There are so, so many gems in this issue, (as per usual). But this one also features the winners of our Close Approximations contest—be sure to check out the fiction, nonfiction, and poetry winners (and runners-up)!

This week, our very own Megan Bradshaw reported from the (frightening) field at the 2016 London Book Fair. Other notes from the (not-so) Fair: translators champion books in underrepresented languages and literatures. And the Book Fair announces its International Excellence Award winners: Words Without Borders is this year’s winner of the Publishers Weekly Literary Translation Initiative Award—the very same prize we won last year!—big congrats, WWB!

Speaking of prizes: the Man Booker International Prize has announced its shortlist, which includes Italian anonymon Elena Ferrante, South Korean trendsetter Han Kang (for The Vegetarian, translated by Deborah Smith), among others. The Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction has similarly announced its shortlist. And yet another shortlist, this time for the 100,000-pound International Dublin Literary Award: featuring Jenny Erpenbeck, Marilynne Robinson, and many others. And shortly after the American PEN awarded its prizes this week, English PEN reflects on the notion of “reputation” with regard to non-Anglophone writers.

Also,  at the Rumpus, a look behind-the-scenes: here’s an interview with writer and translator (from the Korean) Minsoo Kang, translator most recently of The Story of Hong Gildong. If you’re interested in what goes on in one of the biggest (or perhaps *the* biggest, full stop) powerhouse publications, read this interview with the editor of the New York Times Book Review, Pamela Paul.  And if you’re still thinking about the Close Approximations prizewinners—don’t worry, we won’t judge you—read about our poetry judge, Michael Hofmann, here portrayed as a kind of literary daredevil of sorts.

Weekly News Roundup, 1st April 2016: Not April Fool’s Day

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Happy Friday, Asymptote! It’s April Fool’s (Fools’?) Day today, but I promise I won’t prank you—this roundup-writer is far too pooped from the last week of March to even think about the kinds of deep-cut literary jokes you’d find funny. Plus, too many serious (and big) things happening this week to distract you: AWP is going on right as we speak in Los Angeles, and a number of you are likely checking out all the translation offerings via the famous, tempting ALTA Bookfair Bingo—right?  READ MORE…