You won’t see her on any wanted posters, but literary police officers have made a composite image of Russian femme fatale, Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (the endeavor reminds us how little we know about our favorite characters’ physical appearances—and why things are better that way). Anna’s popularity came as quite the surprise to many Russian readers at the time, who thought Tolstoy was just too, well, Russian to garner much readership outside his native country.
At the New Republic, a look at one of Japan’s latest literary trends—a horror Manga subgenre that’s “half cupcake, half decapitation” and crystallized in the country’s sensational bestseller, Kanae Minato’s 2008 Confessions, soon-to-be-released in English translation (yay!). From that same island nation hails an altogether more famous writer—Haruki Murakami, Nobel-laureate-at-some-point—whose oeuvre is nonetheless kooky: here’s a review of his latest to hit English translation, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.
A bit slow on the uptake, but the gesture is appreciated nonetheless… recognizing what we’ve always known, the New York Times notices that Hungarian writer Lázsló Krasznahorkai (Asymptote contributor, natch!) is kind of a big deal. Via the Millions, a reminder that to think bilingually is to think critically: an essay on Irish avant-gardist and Francophile Samuel Beckett’s artistic bilingualism. Speaking of French, and translation: on the difficulty of Boris Vian in English translation. And finally, yet another reminder that translators—and writers—ought to remain 100% human: for all their incomprehensible algorithms, computers are astoundingly bad at faking storytelling.
Giving (formerly) obscure writers their due: Austrian writer and expat Stefan Zweig went under-the-radar in most English-language circles… that is, until a certain Wes Anderson filmed a
flurry of whimsy movie totally inspired by his writings. Iran may finally be coming around and recognizing one of its greatest literary voices, Mahmoud Dowlatabadi (recognition comes in the form of the venerable postage stamp). The strange phenomenon that is Vice recognizes the not-so-strange, but equally impressive, phenomenon that is the Dalkey Archive Press (as the press reaches its thirty-year anniversary!). At the New Republic, a book review of The Impossible Exile, Zweig’s biography highlighting the author’s conflicted personal and public life. Speaking of exile: professors at the University of Texas at Dallas have mapped a (shockingly Eurocentric) video history of cultural exchange in the past 2000 years.