Happy Friday, Asymptote! If you need a pick-me-up this week, here’s a friendly reminder of why translation’s so important: translating books often means saving them (essay comes to us thanks to LitHub, by former contributor André Naffis-Sahely). After all, without translation (and translators), we could never read this New York Times book review: literary phenomenon and badboy Norwegian Karl Ove Knausgaard writes the most Knausgaard-y book review on French writer Michel Houellebecq’s latest-into-English, Submission.
This week in prizes: the French award for American writers, the Grand Prix de la Littérature Américaine, goes to American author Laird Hunt for his latest novel, Nevermore. The United Kingdom’s massive Goldsmiths Prize goes to Kevin Barry for his novel, Beatlebone. And while the 160-book-full list of nominees for the International Dublin Literary Award might seem steep, the winner of the 100,000-Euro prize is certainly somewhere in there (and it might be in translation). Which book has your money?
Vladimir Nabokov’s love-hate letters to his wife, Vera, reveal one side of their relationship, but the absence of her responses—which she meticulously destroyed—make for a rather one-sided love mystery. Mysteries abound in the more literal sense, too: the Chilean government admits that its poet and Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda may indeed have died at the hands of the Pinochet regime. And in Burma, censorship—and political oppression—persists, as 23-year-old poet Maung Saungkha is detained and faces three years in prison for writing a verse considered “defamation.”
Reading moves our mental muscle. She may be nominally a German-language translator—most of the time—but Anthea Bell is also in the business of retelling fairy tales. (Pair this review with our March Translation Tuesday of “The Enchanted Fiddle”). And as the Arab book market struggles, publishers, writers, and readers join efforts to promote Arab-language literatures.
Marathon reading this week: join an online group to read the Spanish epic, Don Quixote, or sign up for a place in the Moby Dick Marathon, to coincide with the anniversary of the book’s publication date on November 14.