3.1 On Being Unmoored: Chang-rae Lee Charts Fiction with Anne Anlin Cheng (SW)

Season three of Novel Dialogue launches in partnership with Public Books and introduces some fresh new voices into the mix. John and Aarthi welcome Chris Holmes, Emily Hyde, Tara Menon, and Sarah Wasserman into the ND pod as guest hosts. And have they brought a series of scintillating conversations with them! In our series premiere, Sarah sits down with acclaimed novelist Chang-rae Lee and Anne Anlin Cheng, renowned scholar of American literature and visual culture at Princeton.

The conversation goes small and goes big: from the shortest short story to the totalizing effects of capitalism. Chang-rae is no stranger to such shifting scales: his novels sweep through large stretches of time and space, but their attention to detail and meticulous prose makes for an intimate reading experience. Chang-rae’s latest novel, My Year Abroad, fuels a discussion about how we can form meaningful bonds in current conditions (hint: it’s often around a table) and about the specters of other, better worlds that haunt Chang-rae’s fictions. He discusses his relationship to his own work and the benefits of taking an “orbital view” on his writing. Chang-rae also offers a tantalizing glimpse into his current project, a semi-autobiographical novel about Korean-American immigrants in 1970s New York. In response to a brand new signature question for the podcast this season, Chang-rae reveals the talent he wishes he could suddenly have… one that Anne already possesses!

Mentioned in this Episode

Listen and Read

Audio: On Becoming Unmoored: Chang-rae Lee Charts Fiction with Anne Anlin Cheng

Transcript: 3.1 On Becoming Unmoored

4.6 Translation is the Closest Way to Read: Ann Goldstein and Saskia Ziolkowski Novel Dialogue

In our season finale, Ann Goldstein, renowned translator of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, gives a master class in the art and business of translation. Ann speaks to Duke scholar Saskia Ziolkowski and host Aarthi Vadde about being the face of the Ferrante novels, and the curious void that she came to fill in the public imagination in light of Ferrante’s anonymity. In a profession long characterized by invisibility, Ann reflects on her own celebrity and the changing orthodoxies of the book business. Where once having a translator’s name on a book cover would be sure to kill interest, now there are movements to display author’s and translator’s names together. Ann reads an excerpt in Italian from Primo Levi’s The Truce, followed by her re-translation of the autobiographical story for The Complete Works of Primo Levi. She then offers an extraordinary walk through of her decision-making process by honing in on the difficulty of translating one key word “scomposti.” Listening to Ann delineate and discard choices, we are reminded of Italo Calvino’s assertion (echoed by Ann) that translation is indeed the closest way to read. This season’s signature question on “untranslatables” yields another brilliant meditation on word choice and the paradoxical task of arriving at precise approximations. Plus, Ann and Saskia reveal some of their favorite Italian women writers, several of whom Ann has brought into English for the first time. Mentions: –Elena Ferrante –Jennifer Croft –Primo Levi, The Periodic Table –Primo Levi, The Truce, from The Complete Works of Primo Levi –Stuart Woolf, original translator of Levi, If This is the Man –Catherine Gallagher, Nobody’s Story –Italo Calvino –Marina Jarre, Return to Latvia –Elsa Morante, Arturo’s Island –Emily Wilson, only female translator of The Odyssey –Jenny McPhee –Cesare Garboli Find out more about Novel Dialogue and its hosts and organizers here. Contact us, get that exact quote from a transcript, and explore many more conversations between novelists and critics. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
  1. 4.6 Translation is the Closest Way to Read: Ann Goldstein and Saskia Ziolkowski
  2. 4.5a Novel Dialogue Bonus: Jean-Baptiste Naudy Reads from Claude McKay’s "Amiable with Big Teeth"
  3. 4.5 The Best Error You Can Make: Brent Hayes Edwards and Jean-Baptiste Naudy on Claude McKay
  4. 4.4 “A short, sharp punch to the face”: José Revueltas’ The Hole (El Apando) with Alia Trabucco Zerán and Sophie Hughes.
  5. 4.3 Strange Beasts of Translation: Yan Ge and Jeremy Tiang in Conversation

Image credit: Anne Anlin Cheng, Roots

%d bloggers like this: