Posts filed under 'PEN'

Weekly Dispatches from the Frontlines of World Literature

No matter where you are, we've got you covered.

Since 2013 we’ve been bringing you the latest news in the literary world, and we’re not about to stop anytime soon! This week our Executive Assistant, Cassie Lawrence, showcases the latest exciting books being published and prizes being awarded in the UK; our new Editor-at-Large from Brazil, Lara Norgaard, focuses on racial and gender diversity in festivals across the country, as well as newly published work that had been previously lost; finally, our Editor-at-Large for Taiwan, Vivian Szu-Chin Chih, fills us in on the latest prizes as well as film festivals happening right now! 

Cassie Lawrence, Executive Assistant at Asymptote, reports from the UK: 

An unpublished manuscript from the late author Maurice Sendak (known for Where the Wild Things Are) has been discovered. The manuscript is complete with illustrations and is said to date from twenty years ago, according to Publishers Weekly. A publisher for the new title has not yet been announced.

June 20-23 saw twenty British writers and over fifty literature professionals from around the world gather in Norwich as part of the International Literature Showcase. An online platform that allows the showcasing and collaboration of international literature organisations, the live event included panel discussions and readings from Elif Shafak, Graeme Macrae Burnet, David Szalay, and more.

Good news for libraries finally! Following the cuts that have taken place across the country in recent years, The Bookseller brings news that 14 libraries across Lancashire are set to reopen later this year and early next year. These will be partly run by community groups, but with the majority still being run by the council.
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Meet the Publisher: Phoneme Media’s David Shook on Translations from Underrepresented Languages

I do think we’re living in a very good time for publishing translations.

Phoneme Media is a nonprofit company that produces books in translation into English and literary films. Based in Los Angeles, the company was founded by Brian Hewes and David Shook in 2013, though it wasn’t until 2015 that the press began publishing on a seasonal calendar. To date, Phoneme Media has put out over twenty titles of fiction and poetry, and is particularly interested in publishing works from languages and places that don’t often appear in English. Many of their books are accompanied by short films that take on different formats, from video poems to book trailers, and have been shot around the world. Asymptote’s Editor-at-Large for Argentina, Sarah Moses, spoke to David Shook over Skype about publishing translations from underrepresented languages and some of the titles he’s excited about.

Sarah Moses (SM): How did Phoneme Media start?

David Shook (DS): It came about basically because of my own work as a poet and translator. In my own travels—when I was working in community-based development, mostly in East Central Africa and Latin America—through relationships, through friendships with writers, in places like Burundi and Equatorial Guinea, and writers working in indigenous languages in southern Mexico, for example, I was just encountering all of these writers that I felt deserved to be read in English, that would contribute something important to our literary dialogue and that couldn’t find homes in terms of publishers here in the United States and in the UK, too, for a couple of reasons. The first being the lack of translators working in those languages and familiar with those regions, and the second was the fact that these books were somewhat outside the purview of even the publishers who specialized in translation—some great publishers. I think of Open Letter, for example, which has largely focused on literature from European languages, which I also think is incredibly important, but something like a book of poetry from Isthmus Zapotec, or the first translation from the Lingala—a novel we’re preparing to publish later this year would definitely be a bit outside their wheel house.

SM: How do you find translators for languages like the ones you’ve mentioned?

DS: Well I think our reputation is such that, despite having been around a comparatively short time, we’re often approached by translators working in more unusual languages. Our translation from the Uyghur, for example, by Jeffrey Yang, and the author is Ahmatjan Osman, who was exiled in Canada, was exactly that situation. Jeffrey brought the translation to us because he knew of our editorial interests. In other cases, like our book of Mongolian poetry, I was alerted to its existence because the translator won a PEN/Heim grant. And I do read widely, both in search of writers and of translators, who I think are important. For example, a place like Asymptote, which I read regularly with an eye toward acquisitions. I mean when we acquired, for example, this novel from the Lingala, the translation was a huge issue because there are very few, if any, literary translators from the Lingala, so I actually auditioned a few Congolese translators before finding this husband-and-wife team, Sara and Bienvenu Sene, who did a really great job. They’re really literary translators, whereas most of the translators I’d auditioned were technical translators or interpreters. And it’s pretty spectacular, considering I think English is their fourth language. I think a big part of my work is scouting out these translators and also encouraging a new generation of translators to go out into the world and find interesting books. I’m very proud that we’ve published many first-time translators on Phoneme Media.

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What’s New with the Crew? A Monthly Update

From World Poetry Day to PEN competitions, we've had a busy month!

One quick piece of housekeeping news before our regular update! First, thanks to 98 wonderful backers, we’ve raised $13,547 so far toward our project to showcase new work created in response to Trump’s #MuslimBan. (Read the interviews given by our editor-in-chief at The Chicago Review of Books and at the Ploughshares Blog.) With only 7 days left to contribute to our fundraiser, we’ve unveiled a secret perk just for blog readers like you: for $100 apiece, you get first dibs on autographed books from writers like Junot Díaz and Yann Martel, who also stand with us against the travel ban! Fancy your own autographed copy of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao while also supporting frontline efforts to reverse Trump’s travel ban (20% of all proceeds of this fundraiser will go to the ACLU and Refugees Welcome)? Want to help keep Asymptote around beyond 2017? Wait no more: Throw in your support for our fundraiser today!

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Educational Arm Assistant Anna Aresi conducted and translated interviews with Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie and Italian translator Giorgia Sensi as part of Mosaici‘s feature for World Poetry Day, which can be read alongside Sensi’s translations of five poems by Jamie.
 
Editor-at-Large for Romania and Moldova Chris Tanasescu (MARGENTO) has published an article entitled “Community as Commoning, (Dis)Placing, and (Trans)versing: from Participatory and ‘Strike Art’ to the Postdigital”  ​in the latest issue of Dacoromania Litteraria.  One of his performances from the CROWD Omnibus tour in 2016, featuring 100 writers from 37 European countries, has recently been released by Forum Stadtpark in Austria.

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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, 12th June 2015: What’s Pure Prose & Poetry?

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Happy Friday, Asymptote friends!

Big congratulations to the new poet laureate of the United States, Juan Felipe Herrera! Herrera attended the University of Iowa and his current gig is a direct update from his last one (he spent the past two years as poet laureate of the state of California, where he’s from).

Meanwhile, recommended reading abounds. The Millions reviews French-Algerian writer Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation, big winner of the Prix Goncourt and only recently appearing in John Cullen’s English translation (would have been nice to know this from the review—but, alas). In the Paris Review Daily, former blog contributor and all-around translator/thinker/writer extraordinaire Damion Searls argues for a lesser-known (stateside, at least) Norwegian writer: Jon Fosse. According to Searls: in the Beatles band of Norwegian lit, Fosse is George, “the quiet one, mystical.” Hmm. If Fosse is a pure/prose/poet, it’s important to remember the dutiful audacity of prose-at-large: how should we remember what and how prose writing accomplishes what it does? (I’d like to wager that translation plays a vital role in revealing the mechanics of language. But that’s just me). READ MORE…

Weekly News Roundup, 21 May 2015: Booker, the Man

This week's literary highlights from across the globe

Happy Friday, Asymptoters! You must be rather cozy living under a rock if you haven’t heard the most explosive news of the week: Hungarian writer (and Asymptote contributor!) László Krasznahorkai has won the prestigious International Man Booker Prize this year. He received 60,000 pounds sterling, but a 15,000-pound prize for his English-language translators is split between George Szirtes and Ottilie Mulzet (also contributors to both blog and journal). This year’s snag means things are stacked two-for-two with regard to the Man Booker and Asymptote. Two years ago, Lydia Davis earned top honors—and you can see her work in the journal, herself translating from the Dutch in 2013. Furthermore in lit prizes: at Wall Street Journal, an interview with the most recent “Arab Booker”—also known as the International Prize for Arab Fiction—prizewinner: Tunisian novelist and prizwinner Shukri Mabkhout opens up on novelizing the political crises and opening literary doors in the region.   READ MORE…

Weekly News Roundup, 15th Mary 2015: PEN or Sword, Too Many Prizes

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Happy Friday, Asymptote friends! Another day, another dollar, another slew of literary prizes to report. This week, the PEN prizes were of special interest: Two Lines Press’ translation of Baboon, written by Danish author Naja Marie Aidt with translation by Denise Neuman has snagged the PEN Translation Prize (for a short-story excerpt from Baboon, click here!—or better yet: read Eric MIchael Becker’s exclusive interview with the author here). Meanwhile, the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize (for translations of German-into-English) is slated to go to Catherine Schelbert, for her translation of Hugo Ball’s Flametti. And the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize has announced its shortlist, which includes our own friend of the blog (and Tiff-ster) Susan Bernofsky, for her translation of German writer Jenny Erpenbeck’s The End of Days (coincidentally reviewed here in our latest issue). READ MORE…

Weekly News Roundup, 1 May 2015: PEN or Sword?

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Happy first of May, Asymptote readers! On this first of May, readers and observers are reeling at a bit of a scuffle around awards (this happens more rarely than you’d think): a few authors, among them Michael Ondaatje, Rachel Kushner, Salman Rushdie, and Joyce Carol Oates have formally withdrawn from a gala event honoring the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo with its Freedom of Expression award, citing discomfort with the periodical’s inflammatory depictions. If you’re interested in an insider look at the controversy, here’s the letter between the PEN exec and a dissident. Meanwhile, French cartoonist at Charlie Hebdo says he’s withdrawing from depictions of Mohammed altogether, for reasons you may not anticipate. And altogether less contentious is the PEN Manheim award for translation, given to Chinese and Japanese scholar/translator Burton Watson.

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Dispatch: International Translation Day 2014

Our criticism editor goes to UK’s annual celebration of translation

International Translation Day is the UK’s annual event for its translation community. Now in its fifth year, it is an opportunity for translators, writers, publishers, students, booksellers, librarians, and critics to gather and debate significant issues, developments in the industry, to network, learn, and exchange ideas. This year it was held in the conference centre at the British Library in London—quite the upgrade from Farringdon’s Free Word Centre—meaning more guests can benefit from the seminars on offer.

The day kicked off with a panel discussion on continuing professional development, chaired by the nervily impatient Jo Glanville, Director of English PEN. On the panel were non-fiction translator Michael Cunningham, who specialises in translating social policy documents; Lucille Desblache, Director of the Centre for Research in Translation and Transcultural Studies at the University of Roehampton; and Daniel Hahn, tireless champion of all things translation-related, newly elected chair of the Society of Authors, and recent translator of Paulo Scott’s wonderful novel Nowhere People (of note: Hahn somehow found the patience to greet a growing queue of acquaintances and admirers after the panel discussion, before dashing off to catch a flight to Dublin).  READ MORE…

Summer News from Asymptote

Plays, data maps, video projects, and book reviews from Asymptote's team of editors and contributors!

Remember Isle-to-Isle? Chief executive assistant Berny Tan and Sher Chew’s collaborative data visualization and experimental reading project based on Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island? (Now say that three times fast!). Well, the yearlong project is going strong, and the two collaborators reflected on their first five weeks with Mr. Verne in the Parsons Journal for Information Mapping. In this fascinating read, they delve into the trials of imagining the novel in map and diagram form.

For all you D.C. and Austin theatergoers: drama editor Caridad Svich’s Spark will receive its world premiere at theTheater AllianceAnacostia Playhouse, on September 4–28, 2014, in Washington, D.C., under Colin Hovde’s direction. Likewise, her play Guapa will be produced at the Austin Community College-Rio Grande Campus on September 25–October 5, 2014 in Austin, TX, under Tomas Salas’s direction.

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Weekly News Roundup, 22nd August 2014: PEN Awards, Don’t Kill Lawyers!

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Congratulations are in order: a virtual round of applause to the Asymptote contributors and staff lauded in the 2014 PEN Translation Fund winners: blog friend, interviewer, and invaluable assistant managing editor Eric M. B. Becker, for his translation of 2014 Neustadt winner and Mozambican author Mia Couto; and contributing editor Sayuri Okamoto for translating Japanese author Gozo Yoshimasu (“untranslatable?” ha! Just take a whiff of our January 2011 issue); former contributor Benjamin Paloff for his work with Czech writer Richard Weiner; and Philip Metres and Dmitri Psurtsev for their work with Russian writer Arseny Tarkovsky (sneak peek in our October 2012 issue). Felicitations!

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The Latest from Asymptote’s Contributors and Editors

It's that time: essays, interviews, stories, and poems from those who make Asymptote happen

Aditi Machado, Asymptote poetry editor, saw her poems appear in the April issue of MiPOesias and the new issue of Transom. To read her poetry is a pleasure; to hear it a delight – so check out a video of her reading at Counterpath, Denver.

Asymptote’s chief executive assistant Berny Tan and Sher Chew launched Isle-to-Isle, a collaborative data visualization and experimental reading project based on Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island. Pictured above, it’s a yearlong project with weekly updates – an exciting endeavor that will ultimately become “a mammoth illustration of Verne’s adventure classic.”

Is foreignness an inherently fertile imaginative/observational state for you? contributor Brittani Sonnenberg asks in an interview-essay published in The Millions. Deeply related to notions of diaspora raised in Asymptote’s April 2014 issue, the interview is in depth and worth reading. To her question, past contributor Jeremy Tiang answers that he thrives on dislocation, so maybe now is the time to take that trip you’ve been putting off (it’s for your writing, after all).

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