“There are so many ways to look at translation. One that has recently occurred to me is that of a tether: the translator is tethered to the meaning of the original the way an animal can be tethered to a stake. You can’t take off and roam the hills, but you can definitely move around and experience a comfortable degree of freedom.” Asymptote talks with Juliet Winters Carpenter about Japanese tanka poetry, Machi Tawara‘s Salad Anniversary, and the careful balance of translation.
Charles McGrath at The New York Times reviews Per Petterson’s new novel I Curse the River of Time: “…at moments when a lot of American prose seems fizzy and over-rich, the sentences in I Curse the River of Time go down like an eye-watering shot of aquavit.”
“When gender’s not there, it sort of leaves room for us to focus on these other differences—and most of them end up being insignificant, too.” An interview with Emma Ramadan, translator of Anne Garréta’s Sphinx, on writing, translating, and understanding genderless characters.
Recommended listening: Radio Open Source has been broadcasting Anton Chekhov‘s short stories, with voices including Chekhov translator and biographer Rosamund Bartlett, author Andre Dubus of House of Sand and Fog, and numerous other writers, actors, and scholars. “Chekhov makes you want to be a better person. He makes you want to live a better life.” (Unpersuaded? Consider our essays on why reading Chekhov, unlike booze or smokes, will make you a better person in 2014.)
“Writing an autobiography was therapeutic and traumatic at times, but unlike the novel it continues its therapies and trauma long after I’ve written it.” Laura van den Berg interviews Porochista Khakpour about the differences between novels and memoirs, structure, and Khakpour’s upcoming memoir, Sick. (Sick is one of our most anticipated June releases).
In 1979, William Gaddis taught a course at Bard College on “The Literature of Failure,” examining works that somehow focused on personal failure or insufficiency. These included, among other books, Joan Didion’s Play It as It Lays, as well as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. In Bookforum, Casey Michael Henry takes on a related genre: the literature of obsolescence. You could also read James Cappio on meeting Gaddis in person.