Happy Friday, Asymptote! This week feels like a doozy, and it was. If you’re Berlin-based (Hi, Florian!), you likely saw Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei’s impressive refugee-commemorating installation at the city’s Konzerthaus, furnished with lifejackets provided by the mayor of Lesbos. In that same city, in this same week (!), Berlinale, the city’s famed film festival, raises the question: why aren’t German films as good as they used to be? READ MORE…
This week's literary highlights from across the world
"...it’s worth noting that Ferrante’s translator, Ann Goldstein, a writer for the New Yorker, has become a household name among literary types."
Last year, a hashtag became wildly popular in the American literary scene for an author no one has seen and who writes in a foreign language.
This year, a different author—one whom everyone knows because she’s won a Pulitzer Prize, among other honors—is taking the nearly unprecedented step of publishing a memoir called In Other Words in dual language format. And—wait for it—the part of the book that contains her original manuscript isn’t in English.
The two authors have something in common: they both write in Italian. That, and they could be presiding over a renaissance in Italian literature (Well, they may be, if publishers, cultural organizations and/or the Italian government exploit this convergence. More on this later).
The first writer is the mysterious Italian novelist Elena Ferrante, celebrated on Twitter by the slogan #ferrantefever, and the second is Jhumpa Lahiri, a British-born, American citizen who decamped to Rome in 2012, with the unusual project of ceasing to read and write in English. (The two have something else in common: Ann Goldstein is their Italian-English translator).
One author shooting to prominence, and shining a spotlight on Italian literature from the inside, the other already enjoying almost unparalleled prominence in American letters, choosing to embark on a courageous path—one which will almost certain provoke curiosity about Italian among non-Italian readers.
Is Italian literature, both in translation and in original form, having its moment? Oh gosh I hope so.
This week's (and year's!) literary highlights from across the world
Happy Friday, Asymptote friends! The end of the calendar year is nigh, and that means one thing: there are no more new releases (or—there are less of them, as you’ll see in next week’s New in Translation post), and there are a whole lot of year-end lists. Impressively, the New York Times’ famous top 10 includes three whole books (!) in translation (Magda Szabo’s The Door, translated by Len Rix, Elena Ferrante‘s The Story of the Lost Child, translated by Ann Goldstein, and Asne Seierstad’s One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre of Norway, translated by Sarah Death). If you’d like the scope to zoom out a bit, look at the Times’ notable 100 in 2015, thirteen percent of which is composed of literature in translation (given sad stats of the past, this is actually pretty darn good!—though the translation statistics of the past two years, available at Three Percent, make us less giddily optimistic). Finally, take a look at another English-language publication across the pond: the Guardian asks famous writers what their favorite reads of the year proved to be. READ MORE…