Weekly Dispatches from the Frontlines of World Literature

Your news from the literary world, all in one place.

Here we are with this week’s news on exciting developments in the world of literature! Our Editor-At-Large for Singapore, Tse Hao Guang, updates us on new translation initiatives and experimental literary events. Sarah Moses, our Editor-At-Large for Argentina and Uruguay, fills us in on recent literary festivals and on an event honoring everyone’s favorite cartoon cynic. Finally, Tomás Cohen, our Editor-At-Large for Chile, tells us about some exciting new publications appearing in the region.

Tse Hao Guang, Editor-At-Large, with the latest updates from Singapore: 

In the spirit of experimentation, stalwart independent bookstore Booksactually devised a Book Prescription Day (Sep 30) in conjunction with #BuySingLit, inviting the public to meet seven authors one-on-one as they administered literary balm to all manner of ailments. Literary nonprofit Sing Lit Station put on a zany, rave-reviewed, pro-wrestling-meets-spoken-word spectacle Sing Lit Body Slam (October 6-7), selling out on opening night. Sing Lit Station also announced the 2018 Hawker Prize for Southeast Asian Poetry, awarding the best poems published by SEA-affiliated journals to a combined tune of SGD$2500 (USD$1800). Finally, Singapore played host to the 2nd Asian Women Writers’ Festival (September 29-30), with Singaporean novelists Balli Kaur Jaswal and Nuraliah Norasid speaking alongside other writers from the UK, the Philippines, Pakistan, and India.

Sarah Moses, Editor-At-Large, with the latest updates from Argentina and Uruguay: 

The 9th FILBA international literary festival took place in Montevideo from September 22-24 and in Buenos Aires from September 27-October 1. The theme of this year’s edition was “violent times.” Twenty international guests joined more than one hundred authors from Argentina and Uruguay for panel discussions, talks, and readings that examined the forms violence takes—in politics, societies, and families—and the mark it leaves on literature.

Festivalgoers also had an opportunity to attend workshops on topics ranging from literary translation to the literary essay and participate in “Lado B” activities during which they were able to interact directly with authors.

The Argentinian city of Mendoza, located not far from the country’s border with Chile, is currently hosting the 2017 edition of its book fair. Running from September 29-October 15, the event includes book presentations and talks and this year is dedicated to the Mendocino cartoonist, Joaquín Salvador Lavado, better known as Quino, the creator of the Mafalda comics.

On October 4, the Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires (MALBA) wrapped up the 7th edition of El escritor oculta, a documentary film series that offers a glimpse into the lives of writers and different aspects of literature. Curated by Argentinian writer and director Edgardo Cozarinsky, this year’s series included two films inspired by epistolary exchanges between poets. The Portuguese documentary Correspondências took a look at the lives of Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen and Jorge de Sena through their letters, while the Austrian film, Die Geträumten, explored the relationship between German-language poets Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan.

The second of the two Dermisache Sessions also took place at the MALBA this past week. Each of the sessions brought together a writer and visual artist to discuss the relationship between text and image based on their experiences and work as well as that of Argentinian artist Mirtha Dermisache.

Tomás Cohen, Editor-At-Large with the latest updates from Chile:

In recent months, there have been some exciting publications in the small but lively and influential world of Chilean literature. Among the most interesting is a collection of Raúl Ruiz’s twenty-five journals published by Universidad Diego Portales press in which he details his daily life and his interactions with friends that include Bernard Pautrat, Abdelwahab Meddeb, and Giorgio Agamben. In the words of Chilean philosopher and translator, Andrés Claro, the journals “are a log of his artistic and existential journey; they were a way for him to keep track of his truest self and to build a stand towards the panorama of historical change he lived through.”

Two other noteworthy publications include two anthologies published by Lumen that are dedicated to the work of two of the finest living Chilean poets, Elvira Hernández and Armando Uribe. Los trabajos y los días is a collection of Hernández’s books that, until recently, was relatively unknown. Her book La bandera de Chile, written in 1981 following her detention in the infamous Borgoño concentration camp implemented by the dictatorship, was clandestinely circulated in mimeographed copies after the press was raided by the military. It was not until 1991 that this book reached the public for the first time when it was published in Argentina. It has since come to be considered a key work from the period of repression. Antología errante, written by the Chilean National Literature Prize laureate Armando Uribe, represents the work of the Chilean poet most in touch with the musicality of verse-writing. Also an outspoken opponent of Pinochet’s fascist regime, this anthology acknowledges for the first time the importance that exile has had on the poet’s literary production.

A much-anticipated anthology of Juan Carreño’s poetry was published this month. He is one of the most distinctive voices of the youngest generation of Chilean poets.

The recent biography of the legendary Chilean singer-songwriter and folk music collector, Violeta Parra, is highly recommended. Written by Victor Herrero and published by Penguin Random House, Después de vivir un siglo gives us insight into this tragic and genius woman whose life oscillated between poverty and fame and whose influence can be heard in contemporary songwriters such as Devendra Banhart.

As last-minute good news, we would like to mention and congratulate the Chilean poet Galo Ghigliotto and his translator Daniel Borzutzky (an Asymptote contributor) for winning the National Translation Award for Valdivia, published by Co•im•press.


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