Former Asymptote blog editor Allegra Rosenbaum interviews translator and scholar Jennifer Scappettone, whose profile appeared in our Winter 2016 issue. Her translation of Italian poet Milli Graffi was featured on the Asymptote blog last week and her translation of F. T. Marinetti’s futurist poetry appeared in our Spring 2016 issue.
Who are you? What do you translate? (This is just a preliminary question! To be taken with an existential grain of salt.)
I am a poet and scholar of American and Italian nationalities who grew up in New York, across the street from a highly toxic landfill redolent of the family’s ancestral zone outside of Naples (laced with illegal poisonous dumps). I translate Fascists and anti-Fascists; Italian feminists and a single notorious misogynist; inheritors of Futurism and the historical avant-garde; and contemporary poets who are attempting to grapple with the millennial burden of the “Italian” language by channeling or annulling voices from Saint Francis through autonomia.
A very merry greeting to you, Asymptote readers. Today is Leo Tolstoy’s 188th birthday, so we’ll kick this Weekly News Round Up with the Read Russia translation prize shortlist. If you happen to be in Moscow on September 10th, why not go see the award ceremony?
Russia’s rich literary history is well-known, but did you know that the most translated short story in African history is from Kenya? It’s a fable about how humans learned to walk upright and it was written by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o.
Going to better-known literary histories, statisticians predict Japanese writer Haruki Murikami is most likely to win the Nobel Prize in Literature this year. They predict it’s more likely than Philip Roth, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, and Joyce Carol Oats. It’s great to see so many faces in world literature on the list. READ MORE…
Hello there, Asymptote readers! The weekend is upon us with its festivities and time to read all the things we meant to read during the week. Our Weekly News Round Up is a great way to catch up on what you missed: a starting point, if you will.
August was Women in Translation Month. It was a time to honor those who face different forms of sexism and hardship around the world simply for their sex. These women, despite these hardships, still go and do what speaks to them. In this case, it’s translation. Read this list of women translators from India, for example.
Ah India, a place where so many languages are spoken. And who gets to decide what is truly from or for a specific language? LitHub writer Gabrielle Bellot discusses this matter in her essay about who decides what is English and what is not. In it, she discusses Singlish, a Singaporean colloquial English, and compares it to her own Dominican roots. READ MORE…
Friday is trickling in through the time zones of the world this morning, Asymptote readers. And trickling along with it is today’s Weekly News Round Up. We start this week with some self-reflection on self-translation in this essay by Ilan Stavans. Stavans is a polyglot who speaks English, Spanish, Yiddish, and Hebrew. In 2001, he published his memoir On Borrowed Words, which was supposed to cover the subject of self-translation. Since then, Stavans has more to say about it.
Self-reflection can lead people down paths of self-discovery, and critical thinking can do the same. However there are sources that spark critical thinking that leads to nothing, or perhaps, too much of something. This may be the case of the cryptic Voynich Manuscript, about to be released by a Spanish publisher. Apparently no living person can understand it. READ MORE…
Lydia Davis is the author of one novel and seven story collections, the most recent of which is Can’t and Won’t (2014). Her Collected Stories was published in 2009. She is also the translator, from the French, of Swann’s Way (2003) and Madame Bovary (2010) and has been appointed, this year, the French-American Foundation’s inaugural Laureate in Translation. A bi-lingual edition of her translations from the Dutch, of the very short stories of A.L. Snijders, first presented in our Fall 2011 issue, will be published in Amsterdam by AFdH in September.
Who are you and what do you translate?
I’m Lydia Davis, both fiction writer and translator. I’ve been both for as long as I can remember, and they complement each other nicely. I spent decades translating from French and then, about ten years ago, started widening my scope of languages—first with Spanish, then with Dutch and German. I’ve also—just for the challenge—translated one story from the Portuguese and a few from the two principal Norwegian languages.
I should add, since you asked what I translate, not from which languages, that my most recent major translations from French were Proust’s Swann’s Way and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. After those two projects, which occupied several years each, I vowed to translate only very short stories. I have mainly stuck to that vow. READ MORE…
Thank you for joining the Asymptote blog again on this lovely Friday for another segment of the Weekly News Round Up in our digital world. Worlds change constantly with time and influence, just like the world of India. Graphic novelist Sarnath Banerjee works to depict the ever-changing sub-continent in all four of his books. A review of his work is available in The New Yorker this week.
Worlds we grow up in and come to know are not constant, however much we may think they are, and they change with time and memory. Just ask Vu Tran, a Vietnamese refugee, whose entire world changed at the age of four. His “uncertain memories” were featured in LitHub this week. It’s a haunting and beautiful story of transition.
Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street, Caramelo, and most recently the memoir A House of My Own, spoke with NPR about the importance of creating her own world. This world is simpler, but just as important: moving out of her parents’ house and into her own first apartment. READ MORE…
Friday is here again Asymptote readers, creeping upon us like Saturday will tomorrow. Will there ever be time enough to read and keep abreast of all the literary news? Well, with another Friday comes another Weekly News Round Up to help you do just that.
The National Translation Awards announced its longlist this week, twelve of which are Asymptote contributors! We are proud to call these writers a part of our family of contributors. Good luck to them as the judging continues!
What a dream come true for those writers, and speaking of dreams, the Awl published a piece on the history of interpreting dreams. If you think it began with Freud, you are dead wrong, or you might just be dreaming! READ MORE…
What a week for world literature, am I right Asymptote readers? I have a lot of good news, but also sad news, for you this week. Legendary Bengali activist and writer Mahasweta Devi, who had an unmatchable empathy and understanding for the oppressed classes, passed away last week. Her publisher Naveen Kishore and translator Gayatri Spivak remember her. Art is a gift, and Devi gave us so many gifts.
While Devi cannot be replaced, there are so many up and coming writers all over the world that are starting to make their names in world literature. Literary prizes are now being announced. Longlists and shortlists galore, and winners too! The winners of this year’s Jewish Culture prize for literature are Haim Sabato and Sarah Friedland. Friedland is a poet and Sabato channels the Sephardic traditions of Torah.
Linguaphiles of the world unite! Before we start out with different bits and bobs of global and literary news, don’t forget that the Summer issue of Asymptote is out now and waiting for your perusal. For those among you who are teachers, we’ve just released the Educator’s Guide accompanying this issue. From linguistics to critical essay writing, educational material on a dizzying array of topics is collated in the form of interactive lesson plans, contextualizing resources, interactive learning tools, and follow-up assignments for high school and university students. Grab your free download now!
Now let’s get back to news in the literary world this week, starting off with a Russian award aimed at popularizing the country’s literature through translation. Translators around the world from Spain and Hungary to China and Mexico were nominated. The longlist was released this week and can be read here.
Moving west from one large land mass to another, in the preview of Quill & Quire‘s Fall 2016 issue, Steven W. Beattie muses on the up and coming French Canadian literature in translation. He also lists many of those books to be published as support.
What a week it has been in literature! Have you spent the best part of last week submerged in our new July 2016 issue? If you haven’t, now might be a time to take a break, take a breath, and plunge into The Dive.
Also, July 28 is being celebrated as a Day of Creativity for Ashraf Fayadh, the Palestinian poet imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for writing that allegedly spreads atheism. Artists from around the world are using blogs, videos, social media, and other creative measures to support Fayadh.
Hello, dear readers of Asymptote! First up, a reminder about our ongoing contest that could bring unbeatable literature to your doorstep and flesh out that summer reading list. There are two ways to participate:
- Share your favorite piece from the new issue on social media with the hashtag #ReadAsymptote and you’ll have a chance to win a book. Who doesn’t love books? Especially these ones:
The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa by Chika Sagawa (tr. Sawako Nakayasu)
Panty by Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay (tr. Arunava Sinha)
The Art of Flight by Sergio Pitol (tr. George Henson)
The Journey by Sergio Pitol (tr. George Henson)
- Send us your favorite piece in the new issue and the reason you love it in 400 words or less. Submit here today for another chance to win one of those precious free books! The deadline for each contest is tomorrow, the 19th of July.
And, secondly, we hope you are as excited as we are about the release of our summer issue, THE DIVE. The issue is packed full of captivating stories, poems, drama, visual art, criticism and interviews from 34 different countries. There are translations from five languages never-before presented in Asymptote (Estonian, French Creole, Kiezdeutsch, Old English, and Xitsonga) as well as our second-ever Multilingual Writing section. Here at the Asymptote Blog, we’ve picked our highlights, listed below, in no particular order.
Television: The Thousand and One Nights by Robert Merino, translated from Spanish by Neil Davidson. Recommended by Allegra Rosenbaum, Blog Editor.
Robert Merino describes the arrival of a television in his childhood home in Chile. The writing is very much a stream of life events, surrounded by this electronic piece of furniture. We watch Merino grow up and come of age throughout the essay with television. It is the center of his universe, his upbringing, his babysitter, and his cultural education.
A glorious and happy Friday, Asymptote readers! Our Summer 2016 issue is here, featuring the works of Pierre Joris, Sawako Nakayasu, Philippe Sollers, Pedro Novoa, and more!
Asymptote is also doing not one, but two contests with prizes! Share your favorite piece from the new issue on social media with the hashtag #ReadAsymptote and you’ll have a chance to win a book. Who doesn’t love books? Especially these ones:
The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa by Chika Sagawa (tr. Sawako Nakayasu),
Panty by Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay,
The Art of Flight by Sergio Pitol, and
The Journey by Sergio Pitol.
The second contest involves sending us your favorite piece in the new issue and why in 400 words or less. Submit here today for another chance to win one of those precious free books! The deadline for each contest is the 19th of July. READ MORE…
Greetings and happy Friday, readers! This past week, Foyles’ blog ran a piece on the top five books that address the difficulties of translation. Do you agree or disagree with the choices, fair readers? While I’m asking you questions, let’s talk about the infamous Proust Questionnaire. The New Yorker ran a piece about the history behind the notorious literary interview. Its journey through time is striking and not what you would think.
In awards, South African writer Lidudumalingani won the 2016 Caine Prize for African Writing. It’s definitely an exciting time for African literature!
In deaths, the we lost the great poet Yves Bonnefoy. He was a huge part of French literature and will be sorely missed. You can read a translation of some of his poetry on the Asymptote website. We also lost Nobel Peace Prize Winner Elie Wiesel. The world is certainly in mourning for these two great souls. READ MORE…
Alessio Franko is a New York-based screenwriter and actor. In addition to writing the web series Under InspeKtion, he has studied TV writing at Columbia University and the University of Chicago and has written several original pilots. His work often experiments with the narrative portrayal of systems and thinks through how the systems we navigate affect our identities. Trained in acting at HB Studios, he has performed on a variety of New York stages including La Mama and the Ontological Theater and extensively with University Theater at the University of Chicago. I spoke with him via email to find out more about his webseries adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Trial.
Allegra Rosenbaum: What is Under InspeKtion for those of us who don’t know?
Alessio Franko: Under InspeKtion is a serialized suspense-comedy webseries currently comprised of 14 roughly 10-minute episodes. You can see it on YouTube and on our website. Though inspired by Franz Kafka’s The Trial, it is an original story and no exposure to Kafka is needed to enjoy it. READ MORE…