Posts by Zack Newick

Next Year’s The Year

Tolstoy in 2014

I did not like 2013 and I’m not sorry to see it go. It’s taking with it some dear loves and some beloved stars, and so I’ll live with it my whole life. When tomorrow comes, this will be a year ago.


Voices from Elsewhere

The Archives of the 92nd Street Y

Recently Manhattan’s peerless and endlessly vibrant 92nd Street Y released thousands of recordings of events held there over the years in honor of the institution’s 75th anniversary. I have only just begun to delve into the trove of offerings, but I have the following recommendations to make —


On Attending ‘Godot’

McKellen and Stewart in Beckett's seminal play

When Beckett translated his own En Attendant Godot into Waiting for Godot it was an act of editing as much as anything else. Some of his changes were quite normal for a translator (the selection of the best words, the retention of the play’s themes and shape and humor) and some unique to the self-translator: reworking passages, adding phrases (a whole back-and-forth of cursing, for instance), cutting speeches. The French is riddled with rien; the English with ‘nothing.’ In one of his many amusing alterations he turns phoque (the French word for seal, which sounds like the English cuss ‘fuck’) into ‘grampus,’ which is an obscure English word for dolphin that sounds, if pronounced like a Frenchman, like a small turd. READ MORE…

William at the Loom

William Weaver, 1923-2013

Reading often fools us into feeling like we’re conversing—the words touch our eyes and yet seem to come in through our ears. It is no wonder that people often feel a bond to their favorite writers, their favorite books. They think of them as friends—that first person voice is talking to me, this story was crafted with me in mind. We extract secret meanings: my definition of blue is not the same as yours (I think of a butterfly my mother captured when I was in elementary school); I render Middle Earth far differently than Peter Jackson. Every book is a Choose Your Own Adventure, that way.


‘Backside’ by Chika Sagawa

A look at a poem by one of Japan's great modernists


Words For Human

Regarding Murakami's newest story in translation

A new story by Haruki Murakami was published in the October 28th issue of The New Yorker. The story is called “Samsa in Love” and is translated by Ted Goosen, who often translates Murakami’s Canadian releases. The story concerns someone who wakes up as a man named Gregor Samsa.


His Ordinary

Knausgaard's 'My Struggle'

There is a phrase among the earliest in Édouard Levé’s Autoportrait that has remained with me: “When I look at a strawberry, I think of a tongue.” Now, when I look at a strawberry, I think of “When I look at a strawberry, I think of a tongue.” There was a primacy to it, the words became a memory akin to a first kiss or ocean sighting—they became an event, a thing that happened to me. When I read, that feeling is what I look for. To be struck by something, to turn the corner and bump into something beautiful. Sometimes, I find something better.



Introducing Asymptote's new blog!

Welcome one and all to Asymptote Blog, a brand-new resource on translation, literature, film, music, and the arts from around the world. We’re delighted to be launching on the very same day Asymptote Journal launches its October 2013 issue—the twelfth instalment of what is becoming a venerable institution. Featuring the best of international writing and translation, Asymptote is the fruit of a globe-spanning collaboration between a team of literature lovers stretching from Taipei to Buenos Aires, London to Sydney, Los Angeles to (really!) Kathmandu—you get the picture. With every quarterly issue of the magazine, Asymptote’s team of brilliant editors and contributors helps bring a fresh set of voices into the world.

This blog will be a place for even more voices to be heard. We’ll be bringing you several doses a week of book, film, and music criticism, original translations, interviews with writers and translators, and literary news and opinion from around the world. Over the next few days you can look forward to a new translation by Damion Searls of a Louis Aragon story, a review of Hella Haasse’s The Black Lake, and an introduction to Hindi disco music … in short, Asymptote Blog will be the place to come for original writing unconstrained by form, content, or geographical boundaries. Happy reading!

Zack & Nick
Blog Editors, Asymptote


If you are interested in writing for us, please don’t hesitate to submit your writing or pitch your ideas—we’d love to hear from you. You can reach us at blog [*at*] asymptotejournal [*dot*] com