"Stop smoking, first of all, and then don’t hold your breath, don’t cough, do not for any reason pick up heavy packages, boxes, suitcases. Never lean over, or dive headfirst into water. The carnal throes of passion were forbidden, because even an ardent kiss could cause my veins to burst." At long last, Lina Meruane’s semi-autobiographical novel Seeing Red has been published in English. Meruane has long been hailed as one of the most brilliant South American writers that American readers had probably never heard of.
Translating is notoriously difficult work, and translating Proust even more so. The Boston Review has published a very thoughtful piece about the history of In Search of Lost Time in English, the trouble with annotations, and the general "tension in translation between the spirit and the letter." We highly recommend you take the time to read it, even if you don't have time for Proust just yet.
The 2012 Best Translated Book Award long list has been announced. Among the contenders in the fiction category are Edouard Levé for Suicide, reviewed on The Millions here; Mathias Énard's Zone, which our own Garth Risk Hallberg described as "the kind of book that can tie a critic in absolute knots"; and Jean-Philippe Toussaint's The Truth About Marie, which The Millions Staffer Mark O' Connell called "a strange and unsettling novel that upholds its author’s status as one of the most exciting figures in contemporary fiction." One of Chad Harbach's year in reading selections, Dezso Kosztolányi's Kornél Esti, also made the list.
Trader Joe’s, circa 1877: “It’s always the same complaint: ‘Joe, you don’t have any of the essential items that every other trading post has. Why don’t you have saddles? Or gunpowder? Or basic tools?’ Because I have soy chorizo, that’s why! Because I have chocolate-covered peanut-butter-filled pretzels!”