Posts filed under 'graphic novel'

Weekly Dispatches from the Front Lines of World Literature

Xi Xi, Bianca Bellová, and Osamu Dazai. Have we got your attention? Read on.

The days are opening wide this season, like the pages of a new book: for most of us growing longer and fuller. It’s a good thing, because we’ve got a lot to catch you up on. This week, we’re bringing a full dosage of global literature news with achievements from Hong Kong, rolling publications by Czech talent, and literary commemorations gliding through the literal end of an era in Japan.

Jacqueline Leung, Editor-at-Large, reporting from Hong Kong

This spring has been a series of firsts for Hong Kong literature. Continuing from my previous dispatch in March on Xi Xi winning the Newman Prize for Chinese literature, historically awarded to writers from mainland China and Taiwan, World Literature Today is dedicating its first annual city issue to writing from Hong Kong. Sourcing contributions from writers, translators, and academics at the forefront of Hong Kong literature, the issue includes poetry, essays, and creative nonfiction with a focus on food and languages as well as a selection of recommended reading about the city. Xi Xi and Bei Dao are among the list of writers featured in the magazine, as is Wawa—recently showcased in Asymptote’s Winter 2019 issue in an interview with Poupeh Missaghi, our editor-at-large in Iran—and Chris Song, one of the winners of the Fifth Hai Zi Poetry Prize which announced its results a few weeks prior.

To celebrate the launch of the issue, Cha, Hong Kong’s resident online literary journal, is organizing an event on April 27 at Bleak House Books, where eight contributors will be reciting and discussing their works. Tammy Lai-Ming Ho, founding co-editor of Cha and the guest editor of World Literature Today’s Hong Kong feature, will also speak about the conception of the special edition.

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Weekly Dispatches from the Frontlines of World Literature

This week's literary news roundup brings us to South Africa, the United States, and Guatemala.

We’re back with another round of exciting literary news from around the globe. This week’s dispatches take us to South Africa, the United States, and Guatemala. 

Alice Inggs, Editor-at-Large, reporting from South Africa:

An anticipated event on the Cape Town literary calendar, the annual Open Book festival,will take place from September 5-9. The inclusive festival, at which spoken-word performances and bookmaking classes are added to the program alongside interviews with international authors and panel discussions on feminism, appears to have a particular focus on migrancy and notions of place this year, with several talks hosted by the African Centre for Cities.

The attendance of influential urbanist, researcher, and author AbdouMaliq Simone points to this unofficial theme. Simone’s enduring optimism with regards to city spaces and the possibilities they hold for producing new forms of trade, particularly in the context of those inhabitants who are forced to adapt for reasons such as crumbling infrastructure or illegal residency, is a trait that looks to carry over to the rest of the festival.

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Graphic Novel in Translation: Karim Zaimović’s “The Invisible Man from Sarajevo,” Part V

Part V in Asymptote blog's first-ever graphic novel in translation

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Graphic Novel in Translation: Karim Zaimović’s “The Invisible Man from Sarajevo,” Part IV

Part IV in Asymptote blog's first-ever graphic novel in translation

Click here for parts I, II, and III in this series. 

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Graphic Novel in Translation: Karim Zaimović’s “The Invisible Man from Sarajevo,” Part III

Part III in Asymptote blog's first-ever graphic novel in translation

Click here for Parts I and II in this series. 

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Graphic Novel in Translation: Karim Zaimović’s “The Invisible Man from Sarajevo,” Part II

Part II of Asymptote blog's first-ever graphic-novel-in-translation

For Part I in this series, click here

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Download part one, part two, and part three.

Karim Zaimović (1971-1995) was a comic strip artist and writer for the weekly magazine BH Dani in Sarajevo. During the war he hosted a radio show on Radio Wall, Sarajevo, called “Joseph and His Brothers.” At 24, he was killed in Sarajevo, in August 1995, only three months before the Dayton Peace Accords brought an end to the fighting. His stories and the transcripts of his radio shows were lovingly assembled in the book, The Secret of Raspberry Jam, by his friends and colleagues, and were produced for the stage in a play of the same name by theater director Selma Spahić.

Aleksandar Brezar was born in Sarajevo in 1984. He has worked as a journalist at Radio 202 and a translator on several documentary films and other film-related projects for PBS, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and Al Jazeera English, among others. His translations have appeared in the Massachusetts Review, Brooklyn Rail, Asymptote, Peščanik, and Lupiga. His graphic novel adaptation of Karim Zaimović’s story “The Secret of Nikola Tesla,” illustrated by Enis Čišić, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2015.

Boris Stapić is a graphic designer and illustrator from Sarajevo. He studied in Zagreb, Croatia, at the School of Applied Arts and Design, and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has worked at several advertising agencies as a designer and creative director. Boris has co-founded the TripleClaim Game Collective, a video game, app, and new media studio. Of the adaptation, he says, “adapting the original text was a great challenge because Karim’s stories seem to arise from an external creative impulse. They are a melting pot of ideas, obsessions and anxieties of the entire twentieth century, and a playful and engaging literary game of motifs and intimate fascinations.

European Days of Literature 2015, “The Migrants:” A Dispatch

"When people are in a 'swarm,' they aren’t people."

Every year since 2009, writers, critics, and literature lovers have been flocking to the Austrian region of Wachau for the European Days of Literature. Late this October, I was fortunate to spend three glorious autumn days surrounded by vineyards in Spitz and Krems on the Danube, to talk about all things literary and listen to authors read from their works, all liberally sprinkled with local Grüner Veltliner. Literature was center stage throughout—and there was a perfect balance between readings, panel discussions, informal chats and the picturesque setting—no wonder many of the participants have been coming year after year.

The overarching theme of this year’s gathering—The Migrants (Die Ausgewanderten)—was chosen with a view to discuss the ways European literature has been changing through and along with the increasing migration of authors. Little did the organizers know that the symposium would take place at a time when migration dominates the media headlines as thousands of desperate refugees risk their lives to cross the Mediterranean and trek through Europe seeking sanctuary, putting the old continent’s humanitarian values, tolerance and unity to a test and threatening the very foundations of the European Project.

“Some of the best writing in Europe today is migrant writing,” said writer AL Kennedy, who tries not to define herself as having a specific nationality. In her powerful keynote speech (podcast recording here) she tackled the current migration crisis head on: “Between my first draft and my last a photograph of a small boy made it to headlines of many newspapers which had, only hours before, been pouring out hatred at refugees as a moral, cultural, biological and spiritual threat. As David Cameron put it: ‘a swarm of people.’ When people are in a swarm, they aren’t people. They are both of an alien species and a danger. When words put them in a swarm, they don’t receive the real world’s help.”

Practising art alone is not enough at times like these, she argued in her impassioned address, for “true art is not an indulgence but a fundamental defence of humanity.” She challenged writers to take on a more activist stand, using tweets, poetry, and bestselling novels, to create “50 shades of refugee.“

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Contributing a Voice: Interviewing Guest Artist Shuxian Lee

“I believe in at least making work about what I have felt or experienced or strongly believe in. Only then do I feel the urge to make art at all.”

Antwerp-based illustrator Shuxian Lee is Asymptote’s guest artist for the January issue. Her joyous, Escher-esque cover image is perfect for our 4th anniversary, while her beautiful, evocative, and often poignant illustrations accompany a total of seventeen texts. I interview her about her process and inspirations, and find out more about her graphic novels.

Berny Tan: I find your illustrations incredibly rich in both texture and colour. Could you take us through your process of conceiving and executing each piece?

Shuxian Lee: I’m quite a visual person—when I read something or feel something, I get these viewpoints in my head that are sometimes quite filmic and are related to a certain mood. Sometimes, when I come across certain expressions, I’m reminded of certain artworks or patterns that inspire me. I love to draw references to paintings because painters (mostly 19th- and 20th-century ones) are some of my biggest inspirations and first loves!

Once I get this image in my head, then I’ll sketch thumbnails of some of the ideas—though to be honest, I’m quite lazy about this part because I usually already have the finished composition in my head. Next, I look for reference images for colour, gesture or to get the perspectives right, then I start sketching. I usually make my own reference images too, and I rely a lot on my partner (or myself) as a model for my characters.

If the sketch works, I get started with the inking, then I scan it and colour it in Photoshop. I love organic textures of paint and dirt and brush marks, so I try to integrate that during the digital colouring too. In general, I work with non-digital mediums, but it’s nice to discover ways to replicate the non-digital look on Photoshop. I actually only started using Photoshop to colour a few years ago, so I’m still figuring out lots of things.

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