Five years ago, Jacques Lezra was asked to translate a book of untranslateable words. “The project provided me, and my co-editors,” he writes, “with a vivid sense of the history of how people think, and how societies think differently from one another.” This week, the fruits of their labor were published by Princeton University Press, and to celebrate the occasion, the publisher has released six PDFs of sample entries: begriff, kitsch, media, polis, right, and saudade.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time with my husband’s American cousins, who have a five-year-old daughter. She is fascinated and confused by my ‘Briddish’ accent, which she seems to think at points is something I’m putting on. She invented a game where she’ll point at an object in the room and I have to say the word for it—Carpet! Dump truck!—in my best American accent (which is dreadful, by the way). This had her in stitches. When the laughter had died down, she turned to her parents, suddenly contemplative, and said, ‘Isn’t it amazing that Sarah knows a few words in our language?’” Lily Blacksell interviews T.S. Eliot Prize-winning poet Sarah Howe on how being in the U.S. changes her perception of language, writing in the first-person, and “authenticity.”
Recommended Reading: Sarah Gerard records her phone calls with inmate Matthew Seger as he tries to find time to write in prison. “I feel like all of these ideas I have will someday, maybe, be of some use. I don’t want to let any of them go.” We interview Matthew Parker, the author of the graphic memoir, Larceny in My Blood: A Memoir of Heroin, Handcuffs, and Higher Education.