4.1 “Sometimes I’m just a little disappointed in English”: Alejandro Zambra, Megan McDowell, and Kate Briggs tackle translation (JP)

A novelist, a translator and a theorist of translation walk into a Zoom Room……Alejandro ZambraMegan McDowell, and Kate Briggs provide the perfect start to Season 4 of Novel Dialogue. Our first themed season is devoted to translation in all its forms: into and out of English and also in, around, and over the borders between criticism and fiction. We talk to working translators, novelists who write in multiple languages, and we even time travel to discover older novels made new again in translation. How perfect then to begin with Kate, whose 2017 This Little Art is filled with translational brain-teasers: how do I translate characters speaking French in a german novelwhat does it mean that “A translation becomes a translation only when somebody declares it to be one”?

In this episode, Alejandro and Megan discuss their working relationship and share both Spanish and English passages from Alejandro’s most recent novel, Chilean Poet.  There follows a dazzling discussion of poetry within novels, of struggling to be “reborn” as you learn a second language “as something that no longer goes without saying..” Alejandro proposes that to speak Spanish itself, (except “bestseller Spanish”) is already to pivot between the language as it’s spoken differently in different countries.. Finally, the new ND “signature question” engenders a cheerful tirade from Megan that brings the conversation to a delightfully feisty conclusion.

Mentioned in this episode:

Roland Barthes, The Preparation of the Novel; How to Live Together
Samanta Schweblin
Mariana Enriquez
Lina Meruane
Joseph Conrad
Vladimir Nabakov
Oulipo writers who chose rules to organize their writing: e.g.. Georges Perec wrote a novel without the letter e.
Wordsworth, “Nuns Fret Not at Their Convent’s Narrow Room”
Robert Browning as practitioner of “dramatic monologue” (or “double poem“)
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Emily Brontë
Charlotte Brontë
Emily Dickinson
T. S. Eliot, “The Waste Land”
I. A. Richards
Randall Jarrell (“Gertrude spoke French so badly anyone could understand it…..”)

Listen and Read:

Audio: “Sometimes I’m just a little disappointed in English”

Transcript: 4.1 “Sometimes I’m just a little disappointed in English”

5.5 They’re Not Metaphorical Demons: Mariana Enriquez and Magalí Armillas-Tiseyra Novel Dialogue

Booker Prize shortlister Mariana Enriquez, author of Things We Lost in the Fire and The Dangers of Smoking in Bed, joins Penn State professor Magalí Armillas-Tiseyra and host Chris Holmes to talk about her most recent novel, Our Share of Night, her first to be translated into English. Our Share of Night follows a spiritual medium, Juan, who can commune with the dead and with the world of demons, and his son, Gaspar, as they go on a road trip to outrun a secretive occult society called The Order that hopes to use Juan and Gaspar in their unholy quest for immortality.  Publishers Weekly called it “A masterpiece of literary horror.” In a wide-ranging conversation, Mariana reflects on being a horror writer in Argentina, a country that obsesses over its traumatic past. Indeed, Mariana’s interest in writing fiction in the horror genre was prompted by hearing her first horror stories, the terrors of torture and disappearances under the Argentine Junta government. The three discuss Mariana’s use of violence, especially when it involves children; the various afterlives of the translations of Mariana’s award-winning fiction; and the arborescence of the novel form. Humor and dry wit cut through these weighty topics to make for a lively conversation with one of Latin America’s most important contemporary writers. Mentions:  Silvina Ocampo Mariana Enriquez,  La Hermana Menor -The Things We Lost in the Fire -The Dirty Kid Ray Bradbury, The October Country José Donoso Juan Carlos Onetti Ernesto Sabato Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights Ingmar Bergman, The Hour of the Wolf A Nightmare on Elm Street (film) Titane (film) Pope John Paul II The Oulipo Movement Aleister Crowley Chris Holmes is Chair of Literatures in English and Associate Professor at Ithaca College. He writes criticism on contemporary global literatures. His book, Kazuo Ishiguro as World Literature, is under contract with Bloomsbury Publishing. He is the co-director of The New Voices Festival, a celebration of work in poetry, prose, and playwriting by up-and-coming young writers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
  1. 5.5 They’re Not Metaphorical Demons: Mariana Enriquez and Magalí Armillas-Tiseyra
  2. 5.4 The Meat and Bones of Life
  3. 5.3 “It’s on the Illabus”
  4. 5.2 Writing the Counter-Book: Joshua Cohen with Eugene Sheppard (JP)
  5. 5.1 We Have This-ness, Y’all!

Published by plotznik

I teach English (mainly the novel and Victorian literature) at Brandeis University, and live in Brookline.

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