The End of Oulipo?

The End of Oulipo? My book (co-authored with Lauren Elkin), published by Zero Books. Available everywhere. Order it from Amazon, or find it in bookstores nationwide. The End of Oulipo

Lady Chatterley’s Brother

Lady Chatterley's Brother. The first ebook in the new TQC Long Essays series, Lady Chatterley's Brothercalled “an exciting new project” by Chad Post of Open Letter and Three Percent. Why can't Nicholson Baker write about sex? And why can Javier Marias? We investigate why porn is a dead end, and why seduction paves the way for the sex writing of the future. Read an excerpt.

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Translate This Book!

Ever wonder what English is missing? Called "a fascinating Life Perecread" by The New Yorker, Translate This Book! brings together over 40 of the top translators, publishers, and authors to tell us what books need to be published in English. Get it on Kindle.

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Group Reads

The Tunnel

Fall Read: The Tunnel by William H. Gass

A group read of the book that either "engenders awe and despair" or "[goads] the reader with obscenity and bigotry," or both. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Naked Singularity

Summer Read: A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava

Fans of Gaddis, Pynchon, DeLillo: A group read of the book that went from Xlibris to the University of Chicago Press. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Life Perec

Life A User's Manual by Georges Perec

Starting March 2011, read the greatest novel from an experimental master. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Last Samurai

Fall Read: The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt

A group read of one of the '00s most-lauded postmodern novels. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Tale of Genji

The Summer of Genji

Two great online lit magazines team up to read a mammoth court drama, the world's first novel.

Your Face Tomorrow

Your Face This Spring

A 3-month read of Javier Marias' mammoth book Your Face Tomorrow

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Ten Memorable Quotes from William Gaddis’ Letters

New Books
Here are ten of my favorite moments from these hugely interesting letters.


Interviews from Conversational Reading

New Books
See this page for interviews with leading authors, translators, publishers, and more.


  • A Legacy by Sybille Bedford March 15, 2015
    Sybille Bedford had the benefit—or bad fortune, however you see it—of being born into the German aristocracy in 1911. Her father was a retired lieutenant colonel and art collector from the agrarian south, from a Roman Catholic family in fiscal decline. Her mother came from a wealthy German-Jewish family from Hamburg. A widower from his first marriage, Bedfor […]
  • Reviving Antal Szerb March 15, 2015
    Antal Szerb’s lithe, lively, and wholly endearing fiction is peopled by male dreamers on spiritual journeys of self-discovery. Each one sets out on his respective mini-mission with good intentions but knows from the outset that there are only so many harsh truths he can withstand. In this respect, all Szerb’s protagonists seem to have heeded the advice of Gr […]
  • 39 Africans Walk into a Bar March 15, 2015
    New anthologies of African fiction seem to materialize virtually every year, if not more often in recent years. When presented with the physical fact of yet another new anthology of African fiction, the immediate question, one which I was asked when I pressed the warm, bound pages of the Africa39 anthology into the even warmer hands of a new acquaintance, wa […]
  • The Country Road by Regina Ullmann March 15, 2015
    This collection of short stories, her first to appear in English, counters material poverty with a fulfilling and deeply spiritual relationship with the natural world. Ullmann herself was no stranger to hardship. A depressive, she was plagued by personal and professional crises. Financial constraints forced her to send her illegitimate children to the countr […]
  • The Fall of Language in the Age of English by Minae Mizumura March 14, 2015
    The Fall of Language in the Age of English stirred up debate upon its publication in Japan in 2008, and it’s possible it will do so in the U.S. with its arrival in Mari Yoshihara and Juliet Winters Carpenter's translation. In their introduction, Yoshihara and Winters Carpenter, point out that Japanese reviewers accused Mizumura of being a jingoist, an e […]
  • Another View: Tracing the Foreign in Literary Translation by Eduard Stoklosinski March 14, 2015
    Another View demonstrates exciting potential in translation study and praxis. It is especially significant in deconstructing assumptions about fluency and linguistic identity. The author makes some persuasive arguments for considering and even preferring non-native translation of texts, the most controversial of which is the possibility that linguistic compe […]
  • The Latest Five from Dalkey Archive’s “Library of Korea” Series March 14, 2015
    Despite South Korea having the kind of vibrant literary scene you'd expect from a country with one of the highest literacy rates in the world, we're still not exactly inundated with English translations of South Korean fiction. Given this dearth, Dalkey Archive Press's Library of Korean Literature series, twenty five titles published in collab […]
  • B & Me: A True Story of Literary Arousal by J.C. Hallman March 14, 2015
    here’s a conspicuous history of books that simply should not work: Books like U & I by Nicholson Baker, a book-length exercise in “memory criticism,” where Baker traces Updike’s influence on his own writing life while studiously not actually re-reading any of Updike’s books. Or books like Out of Sheer Rage, Geoff Dyer’s book that procrastinates away from […]
  • The Valerie Miles Interview March 14, 2015
    The idea was to uncover the secret life of these texts, why do their creators consider them their best work? What’s the clandestine, the underground, the surreptitious meaning or attachment? Where’s the kernel, the seed from which a body of work grew, what the driving obsession? Is it something sentimental, something technical, maybe even something spiritual […]
  • On Being Blue by William H. Gass March 14, 2015
    Look up at the sky, or down into the ocean, and what color do you see? We see blue, but not Homer—he never once employs the term throughout The Iliad and The Odyssey, famously calling the sea "wine-dark" and the heavens "bronze." Neither did the Greek philosopher Xenophanes say blue—he described the rainbow as having only three colors. Th […]

Editors’ Picks for 2013: Freelancers Aurélie Maurin and Elianna Kan

Daniel Medin, Senior Editor of The Quarterly Conversation, has compiled favorite reads of 2013 from a number of international literary magazines. To read all the picks in this series, click here.

Aurélie Maurin and Elianna Kan on Poetry

Elianna Kan (New York)

Elianna curates the translation portfolio for each issue of The American Reader, where she is a Senior Editor. She has done editorial work for New Directions, The Paris Review, and Picador, among others.

This year marked the launch of the NYRB Poets series, committed to publishing original translation of important voices in international poetry. The series launched with two fantastic collections: Alexander Vvedensky: An Invitation for Me To Think, edited and translated from the Russian by Eugene Ostashevsky and Matvei Yankelevich and Donald Share’s translation from the Spanish of a collection of Miguel Hernandez’s poems.

I was also thrilled to see Alejandra Pizarnik’s poetry finally translated in English by Yvette Siegert for New Directions’ Pearl series. This particular collection, A Musical Hell, is only a taste of the work of one of Argentina’s most important poets. These poems pulsate with the vitality and sense of foreboding characteristic of most of Pizarnik’s work. Here is a poet rattling at the bars of her inner prison, pouring her frustration into tightly controlled verses. Cortázar applauded her work, marveling at how “so much can be contained in such apparently slight verbal correlatives.” I hope this is not the last we see of this poet’s work in translation.

Other favorites this year included:

Henrik Nordbrandt’s collection of poems entitled When We Leave Each Other, translated from the Danish by American poet Patrick Phillips.

My Poems Won’t Change the World by Patrizia Cavalli, edited by Gini Alhadeff and translated from the Italian by various translators, published by FSG this fall.

Lastly, I was delighted to discover the poems of Romanian poet Simona Popescu while curating the Romanian portfolio for our year-end issue of The Reader. We’ll be featuring Sean Cotter’s marvelous translations in our forthcoming issue.

 

Aurélie Maurin (Berlin/Paris)

Aurélie is a freelance curator, translator and editor for numerous cultural institutions and literary magazines, among them Haus der Kulturen der Welten, Literaturwerkstatt Berlin, European Society of Authors, La mer gelée, Transkrit, and Schreibheft. She is co-editor of the poetry collection VERSschmuggel/reVERSible published by Verlag das Wunderhorn, and her current translation projects include work by Thomas Brasch, Dagmara Krauss, Steffen Popp, Thomas Rosenlöcher, and Daniela Seel.

Translation’s no loss, but rather a journey. It gains ground.

Here is an illustration. At the start of this exercise, I pictured my situation via a title by Friederike Mayröcker [“I just sit there CRUELLY”], then moved through associations that made of each poet a translator.

To translate the strangeness of their fellow poets, Rosmarie Waldrop, Pascal Poyet, Uljana Wolf, Eugene Ostahevsky, and Monika Rinck create new strangenesses. They are masters each at making distance, but also of reinstating distance and strangeness, and they somehow pull this off without ever losing the intimacy of the original’s humor.

They mind the gap. They are all obsessed by words, by each others’ words, and the results are equally addictive. When I read these poets, I have the feeling they’ll go on writing and translating until each word has been savored fully, in every possible combination with every other word.

1.ich sitze nur GRAUSAM da by Friederike Mayröcker, Suhrkamp, 2012.

2. Heiligenanstalt by Friederike Mayröcker, translated into English by Rosmarie Waldrop, Burning Deck Press, 1994.

3.D’Absence abondante by Rosmarie Waldrop, translated by Pascal Poyet into French, Contrat Maint, 2009.

4.“Draguer l’évidence” byPascal Poyet, translated by Uljana Wolf into German, VERSschmuggel, Wunderhorn, 2012, and more soon in Schreibheft).

5. The Life and Opinions of DJ Spinoza by Eugene Ostashevsky, translated by Uljana Wolf and Monica Rinck into German.

6. Daniiel Kharms translated by Eugene Ostashevsky for Oberiu: An Anthology of Russian Absurdism, ed. Eugene Ostashevsky and Matvei Yankelevich, Northwestern, 2006.

7) Rudert! Rudert! byTomaž Šalamun, translated by Gregor Podlogar and Monika Rinck into German, Edition Korrespondenzen, 2012.

8) Hasenhass: Eine Fibel in 47 Bildern by Monika Rinck, Verlag Peter Engstler, 2013.

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. Editors’ Picks for 2013: Schreibheft Daniel Medin, Senior Editor of The Quarterly Conversation, has compiled favorite reads of 2013 from a number of international literary magazines. To read all the...
  2. Editors’ Picks for 2013: The White Review Daniel Medin, Senior Editor of The Quarterly Conversation, has compiled favorite reads of 2013 from a number of international literary magazines. To read all the...
  3. Editors’ Picks for 2013: Vagant Daniel Medin, Senior Editor of The Quarterly Conversation, has compiled favorite reads of 2013 from a number of international literary magazines. To read all the...
  4. Editors’ Picks for 2013: La Tempestad Daniel Medin, Senior Editor of The Quarterly Conversation, has compiled favorite reads of 2013 from a number of international literary magazines. To read all the...
  5. Darwish in Translation We’ll be publishing an excellent review/essay on the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish in issue 18 of The Quarterly Conversation. In advance of that, The...

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