Monthly Archives: February 2014

Weekly Roundup, 28th February 2014: Asymptote in Seattle, Anti-Anachronism-Bot, Socrates or Seacrest?

A look at some of the most important literary news of the past week

If you are anywhere near the Pacific Northwest, head on over to Asymptote’s booth at the AWP, or the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference in Seattle, Washington. Good news is that after widespread outcry, the conference is open to the bookish riffraff public, which means you should absolutely come check out the literati—including our managing editor Tara FitzGerald and Central Asia editor-at-large Alex Cigale! They’ll be answering your questions and raffling away translated goodies. READ MORE…

An Interview with Javier Molea

"Basically, no one knows what great Latin American writers are teaching in New York."

Since beginning at McNally Jackson ten years ago, Javier Molea has stretched his title as bookseller to its absolute limits. In the process, he has positioned himself firmly at the crux of a burgeoning New York Spanish-language literary community. READ MORE…

Pop Around the World: the Russian Invasion of 1962

Songs of revolution and regret

Though those Russian missiles never made it over from Cuba to the US in 1962, several Russian songs did hit their targets, flourishing in foreign ears even in the permafrostiest months of the Cold War.

Perhaps the best-known Russian tune out west is “Those Were The Days,” a song based on “Дорогой длинною,” pioneered by Ukrainian-born cabaret singer Alexander Vertinsky (who recorded the version embedded above) and written by Russian composer Boris Fomin to lyrics by Konstantin Podrevskii. Read in translation, the song sings of grief and of regret for past joys gone too soon:


Asymptote at AWP

If you're going to AWP, drop by and say hi. Pssst...if you are a past contributor, we've got a surprise for you!

Attention literature lovers: the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) is holding its Annual Conference and Bookfair this year in Seattle, Washington, and your favorite literature journal Asymptote will make its first AWP appearance!


Translation Tuesday: Three Poems by Faruk Šehić

Reflections from Bosnia and Herzegovina on war and the modern world

die young and leave a beautiful corpse


thus spoke rockers

but this is another planet here

on Padež hill

eleventh day of duty goes by

the first after Smajo’s death


Long Day Away

Remembering Szilárd Borbély

I just keep on repeating his name, I call out to him, I call him on the phone, as if he would answer. I have no words. The demons of death had been hovering around Szilárd for a long time. I was afraid of them at times—he certainly was not. He lived with them, but he did not feed them. READ MORE…

Weekly News Roundup, 21st February 2014: Translation is the prize!

A look at some of the most important literary news this past week

This week in literary prizewinning witnessed what seems like yet another entry in the Good, the Bad, and the downright Strange. While we can’t really complain about the fact that the Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalists include more translations than the average translation-phobic English-language book prizes, the Times omitted to mention the translators’ names—or the fact that the books were translations themselves.


Mahmoud Hosseini Zad answers our Proust Questionnaire

A "Lydia Davis" Questionnaire

If you could have been born in a culture other than your own, which would you have chosen? Why?

By no means can I think about it! Never! READ MORE…

Asymptote Contributors Making Waves

The latest from Asymptote's writers and translators

Our past contributors have been busy! Publishing new work, organizing translation contests, accepting prizes and writing poetry and articles (read it all today, right this instant!)—the only thing they haven’t done is procrastinate.


Micro-fiction by Sufian Abas

Down-to-earth magical realism from Malaysia

Anxiety over rapid urbanization takes a distinctly Malaysian turn in these stories by Sufian Abas.  READ MORE…

Pulping History

On banning Wendy Doniger's "The Hindus: An Alternative History"

In the opening chapter of his Sanskrit masterpiece, the Vikramāṅkadevacarita, Bilhaṇa, a Kashmiri poet living in 12th century Karnataka, writes:

Where is the fame of those kings who do not have eminent poets on either side?

How many kings have come and gone from the earth?

Nobody even knows their names!


Forza Italia, Sardegna Possible

The Election Campaign of Michela Murgia

A few years ago, I was walking with my wife and daughter up a steep narrow cobblestone street in the medieval center of Viterbo, a town just north of Rome that for many centuries was a papal summer capital. I noticed a tall man dressed aggressively for success, his clothing put together impeccably with a ferocity that struck me as uniquely Italian. He surveyed the passing strollers with an air of command from the doorway of a storefront papered with posters for Silvio Berlusconi’s political party, Forza Italia, a movement named after a soccer cheer. I nudged my wife and pointed to the man: she nodded, but I sensed she hadn’t seen what I had. I think you have to live in a country for a decade to see it through local eyes. Even today it’s hard to convey just what Berlusconi and his followers represent in Italy, unless you’ve lived through it. READ MORE…

Weekly news Roundup, 14th February 2014: NASA fiction, Vietnamese pioneering, The (funny) Hummus

A look at some of the most important literary news this past week

We’ve got an ambiguous relationship with today’s rosy-hued holiday. If you choose to partake without requisite romantic partner, express self-love by treating yourself to books! There’s nothing dreamier than cozying up with a reading list inspired by former Asymptote contributor and (according to Susan Sontag) “master of the apocalypse” Hungarian László Krasznahorkai. If a trip down memory lane with the likes of Kafka, Krudy, and Bernhard doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, don’t fret: you could catch up on Norwegian memoirist Karl Ove Knaussgaard’s musings anticipating the English-language release of the third installment to his epic autobiographical novel, My Struggle (and read a sneak peek here). Austrian author Stefan Zweig’s work has been largely overlooked, but that may change soon thanks to hipster filmmaker Wes Anderson’s upcoming The Grand Budapest Hotel. If none of these options sound sufficiently enticing, go on a literary date with nostalgia: before he was a big-name writer, Japanese author Haruki Murakami was proprietor of a swanky jazz club. READ MORE…

Issue Spotlight: Arash Allahverdi’s “Shitkilling”

A look through Asymptote's January Issue

Arash Allahverdi’s “Shitkilling,” translated from the Farsi by Thade Correa and Alireza Taheri Araghi, is a powerful poetry standout in Asymptote’s Winter Issue. It’s seductive: inviting its readers to read, “to come and do drugs,” to submit to the poem’s provocations—and “as if semen drink the water”the poem is a one-of-a-kind experience of the high and low, of the routine and the extraordinary. READ MORE…