Weekly News Roundup, 13 May 2016: My Niece, Johanna Bach

This week's literary highlights from across the world

Happy lucky Friday, Asymptote friends! If you’re feeling unlucky, Google might suggest otherwise. But translators (and their authors, if they aren’t Anglophone) are certainly feeling lucky—or at least relieved, as the Guardian dropped the spectacular news this week that translated titles sell better than their untranslated counterparts. And publishing in translation has grown overall—while the rest of the literary industry struggles (perhaps it’s all this IKEA writing)…

Speaking of things that shouldn’t surprise you—but do—at the New York Review of Books, British novelist Tim Parks makes an argument for living, speaking, writing, and being abroad. Here’s how living in Italy improved Parks’ English. And in his new book Motherless Tongues: The Insurgency of Language Amid Wars of Translation, professor Vicente Rafael explores translation and imagination, while a new anthology of Bengali stories translated by Arunava Sinha takes its readers on an emotional journey.

At the University of Iowa, WhitmanWeb encourages multilingual collaboration with the works of Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself,” and Iowa’s International Writing Program residency. And at World Literature Today, Diane Clarke argues for translation that challenges and defies itself, the work, and the readers it translates to.

He may no longer be trending, but he’s trending in our hearts. Norwegian phenom Karl Ove Knausgaard is most certainly not the “most misunderstood writer in the world,” but he’s something. (In that interview, Knausgaard mentions Maggie Nelson, featured in the Believer). And Slate is polling for its upcoming Big Summer Read—two of the titles are translated ones, Swann’s Way and War and Peace (translators are, unsurprisingly, unspecified. Harumph).

Even after a semester of German, the chorales of Johann Sebastian Bach become a bit more understandable. Fans of good things all across the world sighed a sigh of deep relief when James Franco’s project to adapt American writer Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian fell through over an issue with the book rights (heh, heh).