Category Archives: translation

YFTS: Margaret Jull Costa Interview

Here are the questions I posed to Costa for our reading group for Your Face Tomorrow. Please add your own questions in the comments, and hopefully Costa will be able to drop by later in the week and offer some responses.

Scott Esposito: Marias has a great knowledge of English–in fact, he’s translated many of the great English-language writers into Spanish. So two questions: can you give us some idea of how Marias’s translations are regarded in Spain, and if he’s thought of simply as an author, or as more of an author/translator. And second, knowing how much he’s been influenced by some of the great English-language writers, did you use this knowledge at all while working on Your Face Tomorrow?

Margaret Jull Costa: His translations are obviously held in high regard in Spain, but he hasn’t really done much translating in the last twenty years. After he published his second novel, when he was 21, he devoted himself to translating some of the great names in British and American literature, partly, he says, as an essential training in becoming a writer. Then he resumed novel-writing. I would say that now, in Spain, he is thought of simply as a novelist and a columnist (he publishes a weekly column in the Sunday edition of El País).

As for the second part of your question, yes, Javier’s work and language is full of literary references, particularly to English-language writers, notably Shakespeare, Conrad, Nabokov and Eliot. He has also translated that most Baroque of writers, Sir Thomas Browne, and one can clearly see the influence of the latter’s long, looping sentences in Javier’s novels. Another of his most notable translations is of Tristram Shandy, and I think Sterne’s gleefully digressive style and love of absurdity had a huge impact on Javier’s way of writing, and he does take (a possibly very English) delight in choosing words for comic effect. I love many of the same writers that Javier loves, and in a way, I suppose, I do use my knowledge of their work when translating his books, but it’s very much an unconscious thing. I think probably anything that writers and translators read inevitably feeds into their own work.

SE: Marias has been writing since the 1970s, and his style has evolved considerably in the 30+ years he’s been writing. How would you characterize Marias’s style in Your Face Tomorrow with regard to the rest of his career?

MJC: The long sentence that is so characteristic of Javier’s style first occurs in The Man of Feeling. The sentences and the novels have grown longer and longer since then, mainly, I suspect, because his novels have moved away from plot (although there always is a plot) towards the dissection of ideas, feelings, words, motivations. His sentences have the shape of a thought, full of buts and perhapses and then agains. The style in Your Face Tomorrow is the latest stage in that development–less plot and more thought.

SE: As we’ve been reading, we’ve noted how much Marias likes to make use of lengthy sentences. We’ve also discussed how this changes the reading experience of this book, and, in fact, Andrew Seal did a very nice post for the group on how the syntactical unit of Marias’s sentences compares to that of Thomas Bernhard, and what this means for each man’s objectives as a writer. As a translator, how did you deal with these long sentences? Did you try to preserve the order and cadence and length of each? Did you feel the need to break some up, or join others?

MJC: I’ve never read Thomas Bernhard and so can’t comment on his style versus Javier’s, and I’ve probably dealt in my previous answer with the significance of Javier’s style as regards his objectives as a writer. As to how I deal with those long sentences, I very rarely, if ever, break them up into shorter sentences, that would be a complete betrayal of his style. I keep pretty much to the same word order and, insofar as it’s possible, given the differences in the two languages, the same cadence too. I translate the books one sentence at a time and go back over that sentence again and again until it makes syntactic sense and has the right, convincing rhythm, then I move on to the next one. The moment when all the parts of a sentence click into place is very pleasurable–and a relief! Students of English tend to be taught that short sentences equal good style, but English is such a wonderfully flexible language, it seems to me a shame not to use every sinuous inch of it.

SE: We’ve already been noticing how the two words used in the title of volume 1–fever (fiebre) and spear (lanza)–have been popping up in various ways throughout this first book. I assume that the case will be the same for the two words that grace the cover of each of the two remaining volumes. Knowing how crucial these words were to each book, as well as how they have to function in a varieties of capacities throughout each book, did they present any particular translation difficulties to you?

MJC: Obviously, with the title of the first volume, I had to decide whether it should be spear or lance and then stick with my final choice throughout the novel. The title of the next volume–Baile y sueño/Dance and Dream–proved more problematic because sueño means both sleep and dream, and within the novel, I do tend to move between those two translations depending on context. As regards the title, though, Dance and Dream simply sounded better than Dance and Sleep! And, of course, Deza is living a kind of dream existence from which he only wakes at the end of the final volume. With Veneno y sombra y adiós/Poison, Shadow and Farewell, there were similar problems. sombre can mean shade or shadow, but shadow like sombre has some usefully dark connotations, which shade lacks. adios can, of course, be translated as goodbye and farewell, but farewell seemed to me to strike the more appropriate note, especially as that is the word I used when translating Cervantes’ wonderful lines: “Farewell, wit; farewell, charm; farewell, dear, delightful friends,” which occur and reoccur throughout all three volumes.

SE: In your translation, Marias comes across as a very careful wielder of adjectives, and a very subtle hand with word order. For instance, this description of Tupra, the first time Deza sees him: “In the first instance and at a party, Tupra turned out to be a cordial man, smiling and openly friendly, despite being a native of the British Isles, a man whose bland, ingenuous form of vanity not only proved inoffensive, but caused one to view him slightly ironically and with an almost instinctive fondness.” [45] Several aspects of this sentence strike me as noteworthy, perhaps most so the passage “a man whose bland, ingenuous form of vanity not only proved inoffensive . . .” Do you find it significantly more difficult to translate Marias than other authors, and can you compare Marias’s use of word choice and word order to some other Spanish-language authors you’ve translated?

MJC: I’ve just checked my translation against the original sentence, and it does follow Javier’s word order, except that I’ve placed ‘In the first instance and at the party’ at the beginning of the sentence, whereas in the Spanish, those words come after the verb resultó ser [turned out to be]. I think (it’s several years since I translated the book) that I did this to avoid additional breaks and commas in the opening sentence of the chapter. Otherwise, as I said earlier, I do try to keep as close to his word order as I can. And, yes, Javier does like adjectives and uses them, I feel, as ways of getting closer to the meaning that he wants, often using apparent synonyms, as if each additional word might have just the nuance he needs. As for difficulty, his books are, of course, difficult to translate and certainly more difficult than any of my other Spanish-language authors, but he’s such a precise writer I know I can trust his choice of word and sentence shape. Translating a poor stylist is much harder than translating a very good one.

SE: Lastly, I remember hearing that after Marias had finished the second volume of Your Face Tomorrow, he declared the book complete, and then later caused a bit of a surprise when he wrote a third volume. Is this correct? And if so, did that choice surprise you, and do you consider the work complete now?

MJC: It was always clear that volume 2 could not be the end of the story, because it closes on a “cliffhanger,” as does volume 1. And there are all those loose ends waiting to be tied up!

My understanding is that Javier intended the “trilogy” to appear as one volume (it has recently come out in Spain in the one-volume format he originally wanted). He published it in segments so that the dedicatees–his father, Julián Marías, and Peter Russell (the model for Peter Wheeler)–both in their late eighties at the time, would be able to read the novel as it evolved. Both, alas, died before volume 3 was published. Javier has commented that volume 3 was much longer than he expected it to be, and that the deaths of his father and Peter Russell influenced the way he wrote about them in the final volume (i.e. he wasn’t sure he could have written of their deaths in the novel if they had still been alive in reality).

When I had completed the final version of my translation of volume 3, I wrote to Javier, saying that it was finished and added “always assuming a translation can ever be said to be truly finished,” and he replied–most consolingly–that it was the same with novels. There always comes a point where you simply have to stop. But, yes, I do consider the work to be complete now, and will be most intrigued to see what he writes next. Something quite different I suspect.

The Genius of What Is Possible In English

Fascinating conversation between Adam Kirsch and Ilya Kaminsky on what translation can and can’t do. I’ll grant that Kirsch is well-informed, and his concerns are fair enough, but this response of Kaminsky’s really gets at the inherent error in focusing to exclusivity on the source text w/r/t translation:

But what interests me is not only the genius of the poet translated but also the genius of what is possible in English as it bends to accommodate or digest various new forms. By translating, we learn how the limits of our minds can be stretched to absorb the foreign, and how thereby we are able to make our language beautiful in a new way.

I love that devotion to the “local” in your earlier commentary, and would like to turn the discussion to the idea of influences. How does this inherent local power in English language poetry grow, expand, and learn its own abilities from its constant encounters with the other? What keeps that wonderful poetic (or, at times, anti-poetic) “local” fresh? What allows it to constantly renew itself and not die of incest and boredom?

AK: What you say about poetry’s encounters with otherness seems to me to apply especially to American poetry. Think of Pound and Eliot, who were never more American than when they attempted to channel the whole of European literature

For what it’s worth, I’m reading a book on Italo Calvino right now that recounts Calvino’s translation of a book of Queneau’s that was essentially untranslatable (Calvino’s word, not mine). Why did Calvino do it? He wanted to enrich the Italian language, as well as develop his own style as a writer. That’s just what he did. (It’s a central claim of this book that this translation was largely responsible for Calvino’s evolution in his books after Cosmicomics.) And at the end of the day Italian readers had a book that, though not an exact parallel text to Queneau’s original, was still one of the year’s most interesting, innovative texts to appear in Italian when Calvino published it.

The European Fiction Anthologies

This winter we'll be seeing two European lit anthologies from two of the best publishers of lit-in-translation.

First there's The Wall In My Head, covering Eastern European fiction and nonfiction and published by Open Letter in conjunction with Words Without Borders. From Open Letter's catalog:

To mark the twentieth anniversary of this momentous collapse, and to shed some light on how it came to pass, Words without Borders presents The Wall in My Head, an exciting anthology that features fiction, essays, images, and original documents to pick up where most popular accounts of the Cold War end, and trace the path of the revolutionary spirit of 1989 from its origins to the present day.

Available November.

The second anthology comes from Dalkey, which is publishing Best European Fiction 2010, edited by Alexander Hemon and available this January. From Dalkey's website:

Best European Fiction 2010 is the inaugural installment of what will become an annual anthology of stories from across Europe. Edited by acclaimed Bosnian novelist and MacArthur “Genius-Award” winner Aleksandar Hemon, and with dozens of editorial, media, and programming partners in the U.S., UK, and Europe, the Best European Fiction series will be a window onto what’s happening right now in literary scenes throughout Europe, where the next Kafka, Flaubert, or Mann is waiting to be discovered.

Those of you who want new European fiction right now can turn to the latest issue of Absinthe. As always, the current issue (number 11) has a bunch of great material, including a new translation from the Greek by Karen Emmerich.

And for even more literature from Europe (more!) there will be two anthologies of contemporary German literature out this year, as reported at Words Without Borders.

Total (Translation) Information Awareness

Over at Three Percent, Chad has just posted a list of recommended lit-in-translation that have thus far come out of the evaluation process for this year's Best Translated Book Award. It's a rather robust list, and looking of it I'm struck by the amount of books we've managed to cover so far.

Basically, between the great enthusiasm of the judges and the low number of translations published each year in the U.S., I think by the time we're done with this year's award we'll have accounted for virtually every work of literature in translation published this year. I remark on this mostly because in spite of the shaft put on lit-in-translation by most old-media publications, this year's panel (and their respective institutions) will have just about covered the entire literature-in-translation scene.

It's a nice example of how media on the Internet have sprung up to fill a gap in our nation's literary coverage. Of course, it's far from the only gap, and we're far from the only people working to address this gap and others.

Anyway, have a look at the full list at Three Percent. Here are the titles form it that we've covered:

  • Ghosts by Cesar Aira. Translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews. (New Directions). TQC Review.
  • Op Oloop by Juan Filloy. Translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman. (Dalkey Archive). My own mini review.
  • Vilnius Poker by Ricardas Gavelis. Translated from the Lithuanian by Elizabeth Novickas. (Open Letter). TQC Review
  • She-Devil in the Mirror by Horacio Castellanos Moya. Translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver. (New Directions). (Review forthcoming).
  • News from the Empire by Fernando del Paso. Translated from the Spanish by Alfonso Gonzalez. (Dalkey Archive). (Review forthcoming)
  • The Mighty Angel by Jerzy Pilch. Translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston. (Open Letter). (Review forthcoming)
  • The Halfway House by Guillermo Rosales. Translated from the Spanish by Anna Kushner. (New Directions). My discussion of it on this blog.
  • Five Spice Street by Can Xue. Translated from the Chinese by Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping. (Yale University Press). TQC Review.

Between the Meanings of Consciousness and Reality

As part of the new issue of Words Without Borders, translator Michael Emmerich has a very interesting essay on translation.

His essay is concerned with the difficulty of defining the word translation, and how this complicates the work of the translator: unlike some words (Emmerich uses the example dog), translation is fraught with differences in contexts and values that complicate a translator's job.

Emmerich puts it like this:

In order for "translation" to have any meaning at all, it must be translatable into other languages; but the moment it is translated, it is swept up in a system of differentiations different from the one in which it is enmeshed in English—indeed, it doesn't even have to be translated, because the word itself implies its own connectedness to these other systems of differentiation. Translation must be viewed as a node within which all the ideas of translation in all the languages there ever have been or could ever be might potentially congregate, intersect, mingle. Or we could say that the word "translation" is haunted by all the concepts it might translate, the words with which it may be translated. A word like "dog" can be understood, if only provisionally, in terms of its difference from an (indefinite) string of other terms in English; "translation" is made doubly provisional by its inevitable connection to other, non-English ideas of translation that could, at any moment, be brought to bear on the English word, just as the English word can be brought to bear, through a subtle process of productive mistranslation, on the Japanese word hon'yaku. "Translation" is, that is to say, always waiting to be redefined, not through its difference but through its similarity to other terms in other languages.

If this is not as obvious as it probably should be, it is because too frequently we consider translation from a perspective that has nothing to do with translation. We focus almost exclusively on translations. There are originals and translations, source texts and languages and target texts and languages, domestic and foreign, those who commission translations and those who consume them—everything but translators engaged in the act of translation. There are several reasons for this. The most important, perhaps, is that it is difficult to get a handle on what exactly a translator is doing when she translates. Consider this description of the process by Donald Philippi:<

Whatever happens after a translator sits down at the computer, it isn't anything material. What realm do we enter when we boot up our computer, attune our mental faculties to that odd wavelength of ours, and ascend into the ethereal realm of the translator's daily praxis? The translator's consciousness is not focused on any object, but is rather liberated from the world of material objects. The translator's realm is on a highly abstract plane, rather like that of a mathematician, grammarian or logician. The material objects are distanced. The domain of consciousness in which the translator operates is detached from the whole natural world. Abstracted from reality, the translator operates outside the spatio-temporal system in the world of pure consciousness. As Edmund Husserl would say: "Between the meanings of consciousness and reality yawns a veritable abyss" (Ideas, p. 138).

Later on, Emmerich puts it well when discussing the translator's role:

Rather than imagine the translator as someone who stands between languages, cultures, and nations, we would do better to cultivate an image of him as a ghost who haunts languages, cultures, and nations, existing in two worlds at once but belonging fully to neither.

Interestingly, in The Quarterly Conversation's interview with Emmerich–conducted almost 4 years ago–he also used the metaphor of a ghost to describe the act:

I also try to balance myself somewhere between Japanese and English—or rather to keep myself as much as possible in both languages at once, like a ghost that isn’t entirely here but isn’t entirely gone, either. To produce a work that feels right to me both as English prose and as a translation from Japanese. This isn’t a very good answer to your question, but all I can say is that each author and each work and each sentence in each work requires that one perform a different sort of balancing act. Usually several different balancing acts at once, in fact.

Rushdie: Bolano Proves We Should Translate More

Opening the PEN World Voices Festival, Salman Rushdie has declared that the example of Roberto Bolano proves that there are tons of great writers still unknown in English. So American publishers, get going:

El autor anglo-indio Salman Rushdie destacó hoy
el reconocimiento en EU del fallecido escritor chileno Roberto Bolaño y
animó al mercado editorial estadounidense a tomar nota e impulsar más
traducciones al inglés de obras de éxito.

"El éxito tardío de Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) con 2666 es una muestra de lo poco que se traduce en Estados Unidos", dijo el célebre autor de Los versos satánicos
durante la presentación en la sede del Instituto Cervantes de Nueva
York de la quinta edición del Festival Internacional de Literatura del
PEN Club.

It's surprising that this hasn't gotten more play. GalleyCat has video clips from his speech, but no mention of the Bolano.

Of course, Rushdie is absolutely right. And if publishers don't want to do it for higher aspirations of opening a dialog with the world, well, there's a lot of very marketable material out there in other languages. Instead of trudging through the notebooks of famous deceased authors, more publishers should be finding out which authors currently working in other countries would sell in America.

Related Posts:

In the United States of Africa Review

Chad reviews a book whose premise is that Africa is as rich as the U.S., and the U.S. is as rich as Africa:

In the opening pages we’re introduced to Yacuba, a “flea-ridden Germanic or Alemanic carpenter” who has fled AIDS-ridden, poverty-stricken Europe in hopes of a better life in the much wealthier and cleaner United States of Africa. Through Yacuba we’re introduced to a world where Quebec is at war with the American Midwest, where the “white trash” of Europe speak an undecipherable “white pidgin dialect,” and where the African media fans the flames of intolerance:
Surely you are aware that our media have been digging up their most scornful, odious stereotypes again, which go back at least as far as Methusuleiman! Like, the new migrants propagate their soaring birth rate, their centuries-old soot, their lack of ambition, their ancestral machismo, their reactionary religions like Protestantism, Judaism, or Catholicism . . .

According to Chad, Abdourahman A. Waberi's 134-page In the United States of Africa makes that premise work. I'm intrigued to read it for myself.

Grossman Discusses Translating Don Quixote

Translator Edith Grossman recently discussed Don Quixote’s singular place in the Spanish canon:

It was Grossman’s ambition to honor the significance of Don Quixote as a prose model for Spanish literature. "Though we have Shakespeare and the Bible for poetry," she said, "there’s really no equivalent for prose in our language. In Spanish literature, everyone is informed by Cervantes." The English template she chose as a point of entry was the novel of the 19th Century, in part the work of Jane Austen. "I hope Austen doesn’t mind," she said. Grossman has read Don Quixote many times in Spanish but only one version in English, and as a teenager. She mentioned Tobias Smollet’s 17th-Century translation as a work she’d like to read, having heard that it is a "beautiful piece of writing."

And, of course, put two translators in discussion and eventually they’ll get to the whole "can it ever be as good as the original" matter:

As the talk went on, each of them seemed to be informed by Benjamin’s
"Task of the Translator," from Lago’s claim that even bad translations
cannot prevent important works from being appreciated in another
language (he cites early Spanish translations of Faulkner) to his point
that certain works, from Don Quixote to Ulysses, are
universal books, "not quintessentially Spanish or Irish." She told a
story about a talk she had with fellow translator Gregory Rabassa, who
was asked by "some idiot," she said, if he felt like his Spanish was
good enough to translate Marquez. "He asked the wrong question," she
told us. "He should have asked if his English was good enough."

The Value of Reading Translated Fiction

Aviya Kushner’s essay on translated literature in the U.S. is an interesting mix of provocation, insight, and misrepresentation. Her main argument is more or less that:

It’s not that Americans aren’t interested in the world at all. It’s just that we seem to want someone else to do the ­heavy ­lifting required to make a cultural connection. As the ­Peruvian-­born writ­er Daniel Alarcón ob­serves, Americans would rather read stories by an American about Peru than a Peruvian writer translated into English. “There’s a certain curiosity about the world that’s not matched by a willingness to do the work,” Alarcón said in a phone interview from his home in Oakland, California. “So what happens is that writers of foreign extraction end up writing about the world for Americans.”

Like much in this essay, there’s an element of truth here, although Kushner has elided certain other facts that might trouble her argument. True, the bestsellers among U.S. "foreign" fiction tend to be American authors who are immigrants or children of immigrants, and this probably has something to do with Kushner’s thesis. But there are clearly other factors at work: large presses, who are better-poised to plaster up wall-to-wall publicity, are more interested in taking on multi-ethnic English-language authors than to translate (translations are expensive, after all, and it’s self-defeating conventional wisdom that they don’t get published because they’re too risky); it’s also easier to put authors living in the U.S. on tour and get them TV and radio appearances (and keep in mind many foreign writers can’t speak English well enough to do effective publicity appearances at all).

Kushner also plays a little coy with the facts. By now we’ve all heard that

Meanwhile, the rest of the world is reading outside the lines, as anyone who walks through a European airport bookstore can attest: Twenty-five percent of books published in Spain in 2004 were translations, according to Hoffman’s study. In Italy the figure was 22 percent, and in South Korea 29 percent. Even China, with four percent, had a higher proportion of translations than the United States.

Again, somewhat true: most other nations do read more translated literature than the U.S., and the 3 percent (or less) that translations hold of our book market is abysmal. But other nations’ interest in translations is in large part of necessity: a nation like South Korea, with only a tiny fraction of the U.S.’s population, is much more reliant on translated literature to simply fill the shelves. There would not be a book market in many of these countries without translated books.

Kushner is at her strongest when making the case for what differentiates a truly foreign fiction from one written by a multi-ethnic author living in the U.S.:

    But from the first translation of the Bible onward,
    what Grushin describes was always the translator’s role: to go to
    another culture and bring back what matters. It was sort of
 like immigration with a
    ­built-­in return trip. A good translator must create and inhabit a
    place that does not fully exist—a land between
    languages—because it is impossible to reproduce another
    language exactly. A translator must bring over what is most important, as
    accurately as ­possible.

    A bilingual writer, on the other hand, might omit the
    dirty laundry, inside jokes, or other intimate markers of a culture, such
    as a scandalous reference to a prime minister’s ­sexual
    ­harassment travails that matter only to the small number of residents
    of his country, or a joke on, say, Chairman Mao’s appearance. A
    novelist is more interested in story than in accuracy, but most translators
    think about exactness, and try to honor it, in their ­way.

    Now, sadly, we have forgotten what it is to live
    between languages, to have translators who inhabit the space between
    tongues. We prefer to read of a Bosnian immigrant in New York instead of a
    Bosnian man in Sarajevo, written by a Bosnian. This way, at least we can
    recognize New ­York.

I’m sympathetic to much of this, but in the end I must wonder if what Kushner is objecting to here isn’t so much too-familiar writing as just plain bad writing.

The title of Kusner’s essay is telling: McCulture. So is the fact that in her critique of literature she spends a significant amount of space chastizing Americans who travel abroad but never leave the few dressed-up avenues where all the locals speak English and one can buy bastardized versions of the local culture.

Fair enough: America does have a problem with McCulture, and I’ve seen far too many travelers of just the kind Kushner describes. But I must wonder if what Kushner has a problem with is an inherent flaw in English-language fiction written by multi-ethnic authors, or if her problem is rather with what she perceives as the reading public’s taste for banal fiction somewhat exoticized by an author’s lineage.

That is all to say that I find Kushner’s arguments about the inherent advantage of writing in, or reading from, a foreign language unconvincing. That’s not to say that there aren’t legitimate arguments to be made, only that I don’t think Kushner’s are them.

I’m generally suspicious of moralistic arguments for reading translations, as if translations were the vegetables of the American reader’s diet. (Try making that argument in the many nations where the bestsellers in translation are Dan Brown and J.K. Rowling.) I read translations because the books genuinely interest me, just like I read American books that interest me. Maybe the fact that so many recent translations appeal to me has something to do with the fact that only about 350 of them were published here last year, and the selections were largely made by small presses that care more about quality of writing than making a profit.

Yes, Americans should be a little more curious about world literature, and yes, if they were they’d probably know a little more about the world at large. This, I suppose, is an argument for reading translations, but the problem is that it can also be an argument for so many other things: genuine tourism, learning about world history, acquiring a second language, knowing people from foreign countries, watching foreign films, listening to foreign music, foreign art, foreign TV, foreign food . . .

Which is all to say, Kushner’s essay is interesting, but on balance a little light itself.

Zone Translator Interviewed

Translator Charlotte Mandell will see her translation of French giga-novel The Kindly Ones published here in March (and already garnering review attention); her translation of 500-page, single-sentence French novel Zone is forthcoming from Open Letter.

Quarterly Conversation contributor Lauren Elkin provides an interview with Mandell on her blog, wherein we learn:

With Zone, the challenge is to reproduce the style of the narrator’s stream-of-consciousness:  the novel is written around one long sentence, and I need to keep the reader’s undivided attention in English in the same way that the French does – it’s a sort of breathless, urgent, spontaneous, but also deeply erudite style that works wonderfully well in the original.  I hope I can maintain that momentum in English – when you’re reading it you feel as if you’re on the train with the narrator, being pulled inexorably toward some unknown goal.

The Latin American Mixtape

5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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