After learning that the good folks at BAM will be roasting Gary Shteyngart, the author’s inquisitive dachshund, Felix, wrote a plaintive letter to the organizers. It’s worth pointing out here that we set up Felix on a doggy blind date a few weeks ago.
In general, we think of translators as people whose job, briefly summarized, is to create elegant texts out of works in foreign languages. But J.R.R. Tolkien, in his translation of Beowulf, set out to do something different. The Lord of the Rings author published a translation that he kept intentionally clunky. Why? In his telling, he did it to better imitate Old English.
Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the New York Times Book Review, talks to Noah Charney about his life, his work, and his taste in books. Answers are typical but insightful, with one incredibly colorful exception: Tanenhaus’s ideal workplace is bizarre. (Hint: The atmosphere falls somewhere between a nuclear fallout shelter and the kind of place you would keep a hostage and it’s nothing like where we write.)