Weekly News Roundup, 21st November 2014: National Translation Awards, Mapped-Out Languages

This week's literary highlights from across the world

The interwebs’ hullabaloo around the recently-awarded (American) National Book Awards occupied much of the literary chitchat this week, but those of us in translation-conscious circles simply mourn that the Awards no longer carve a space for translation prizes. Also this past week: the American Literary Translation Association conference celebrated its largest award, the National Translation Award, given to Matlei Yankeivich and Asymptote-contributor Eugene Ostashevsky’s translation of Russian-language An Invitation for me to Think by Alexander Vvedensky. And the Korea Times announced its modern Korean literature in translation awards this week, too.

Literary pedagogy is ongoing. Here’s another look at famed French-language author Marguerite Duras, who reaches her centennial this year (there’s more than has met the eye in translation, yet). Then, take a look at contemporary Polish poetry, in the form of an interview with Krakow poet Ewa Lipska. We’ve reported extensively on the status of South Asian literature in English translation, so here’s another (sort of troubling, but refreshing) perspective: Indian literature has got to look beyond English to go global. As long as your literary idols don’t veer to the excessively self-congratulatory, all is well (is it not?). Literary feuds are more interesting anyways, but literary lives are a whole lot more photogenic than we give them credit for, as evidenced by these adorable pics in the New Yorker, which include the likes of Borges, Saramago, and Colette in their natural habitats. 

While literary prizes map out the landscape of the books we purchase and ultimately read, they’re nothing against these (geographical) infographical cartographies that map the “whys” and “hows” of the languages we speak. And here’s an inspired hypothetical list of updates for the most-translated book of all time: the Bible, à la Adobe Reader.  Speaking of the Book: the Bible has just been called the most “valuable book to humanity” by the Folio Society (and Societies don’t lie).

And finally: much of the data-collection around vernacular suggest that the digital age destroys our language, but linguist Steven Pinker would beg to differ. Phew.