Translation

Hideo Yokoyama’s detective novel Six Four, about a cold case and the conflicts within a police department, was first released in Japan to wide acclaim. Yokoyama’s carefully plotted, high-tension novel seemed perfect for U.K. and U.S. readers that had been devouring books by writers like Jo Nesbø and Steig Larsson, so translator Jonathan Lloyd-Davies was tasked with bringing Yokoyama’s work to English-language readers. We talked to Lloyd-Davies about translating a Japanese bureaucracy, his translation process, and the appeal of a crime novel in a country with a low crime rate.
Jonathan Lloyd-Davies: I was still living in the U.K. when the novel was released, working on other translations, and on a strict diet of reading English to limit the influence of Japanese syntax in my work. Six Four first came my way via a translation summer school in Norwich, chaired by the translator and professor Michael Emmerich, who later brought the project to my attention. At the time I was finishing another translation and looking for something to take on. He was, of course, kind enough to warn me that it was a long book.

The circumstances of my own life have fueled my attraction to Leonardo Padura’s last two novels and led to my translation of them. When I first read The Man Who Loved Dogs—his sprawling novel about Trotsky’s years in exile, and the Soviet plot to recruit and train a Spanish Civil War combatant to kill him in Mexico City&emdash;I was a few years out from a period of having studied Russian intensely and a visit to Moscow and Saint Petersburg. I had been trying to understand the lives and experiences of a whole generation of Cubans who grew up in the Soviet satellite, as several friends and family members of mine did, as I might have myself had my parents not left Cuba in the mid-1960s. That I felt taxed and lonely by the effort of making my way through Moscow as a solo traveler who did not, in this instance, pick up any friends along the way, perhaps predisposed me to feel a certain sense of compassion for Ramón Mercader in the Moscow-based chapters toward the end of the novel. Or maybe it was just that Padura is so wily about making you care about characters that could otherwise be reviled.

Emmanuel Carrére

It’s Emmanuel Carrère who stopped me from writing this article. Right at the moment when I’d planned to knuckle down and sort through the disparate ideas that had occurred to me during the four years I’d spent translating his works, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, which had already published eight of his books in English, sent me the first typeset proofs of The Kingdom, and a month after that the second, asking me each time to read the whole thing over in a fresh light, in preparation for the book’s publication.

The Dawning Moon of the Mind

Susan Brind Morrow is the author of a new book, The Dawning Moon of the Mind, in which she details her revolutionary translation of the Pyramid Texts—a series of carvings found in a semi-collapsed pyramid in Egypt, and the basis for a reinterpretation of ancient Egyptian religion. She spoke with Robert Thurman, the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Studies at Columbia University, and James A. Kowalski, dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, about her new translation, and the natural beauty and poetry of ancient Egyptian texts.

Aeneid Book VI

In a momentous publication, Seamus Heaney’s translation of Book VI of the Aeneid, Virgil’s epic poem follows the hero, Aeneas, on his descent into the underworld. In Stepping Stones, a book of interviews conducted by Dennis O’Driscoll, Heaney acknowledged the significance of the poem to his writing, noting that “there’s one Virgilian journey that has indeed been a constant presence, and that is Aeneas’s venture into the underworld. The motifs in Book VI have been in my head for years—the golden bough, Charon’s barge, the quest to meet the shade of the father.”

We’re pleased to share Heaney’s Translator’s Note and the beginning of his forthcoming translation of Book VI of the Aeneid.

Shelly Oria Header

In the months leading up to my move, I would have conversations with people in which I would tell them of my intention to live in New York and pursue an MFA in Creative Writing. Oh, these people would say every time, you write in English too? That question was confusing to me back then and I found it mysterious that so many people repeated it. I’ve been writing since I was ten, I would tell them, and I speak English. They would look at me like they were trying to figure out what was wrong with me, but I remained convinced that it was them, or at least their question, that was wrong.

One of the great pleasures of seeing The Southern Reach Trilogy in print has been the ingenuity and sophistication of the foreign language editions. Among the absolute best of the many versions are Destino’s covers for the Spanish editions.

On Leave by Daniel Anselme was first published in Paris—as La Permission—in the spring of 1957. It had few readers and only a handful of reviews. It was never reprinted. In America, you can’t find it in the Library of Congress or any major university collection. Save for an Italian translation, On Leave almost disappeared.

A heartfelt introduction by Björk is a hard act to follow. But when Sjón and Hari Kunzru took the stage at Scandinavia House, The Nordic Center in America, they pulled out all the stops…

Scandinavia House, The Nordic Center in America, 2013 Dear friends, I’d like to introduce a dear friend of mine, Sjón. I met him first when I was sixteen. With others he had started the first and only surrealist movement in Iceland, a group of six or so members called Medúsa. I was in a punk […]

Prologue to Woes of the True Policeman by Juan Antonio Masoliver Ródenas Translated by Natasha Wimmer Woes of the True Policeman is a project that was begun at the end of the 1980s and continued until the writer’s death. What the reader has in his hands is the faithful and definitive version, collated from typescripts […]

by Iza Wojciechowska and Rosalind Harvey “Some people say I’m precocious,” begins Juan Pablo Villalobos’ super-slim, super-fast first novel, Down the Rabbit Hole. What follows is a beautiful, heart-breaking story told from the perspective of Tochtli, a precocious kid whose dad is a major Mexican drug lord. Tochtli has seen people murdered and has found […]

By Andrés Neuman Translated from the Spanish by Richard Gwyn This story first appeared in The Coffin Factory, issue 3 I entered the hospital dying of hatred and wanting to give thanks. How fragile is rage. We might shout, hit, spit at a stranger. The same person to whom – depending on their verdict, depending […]

This fall FSG will publish Parallel Stories by acclaimed Hungarian author Péter Nádas. Editor Elisabeth Sifton writes, “After his last novel, A Book of Memories, appeared in English in 1997, many critics and readers agreed with Susan Sontag’s assessment that it was the greatest novel written in postwar Europe. But Nádas was already moving past […]

This newly translated piece by Jorge Luis Borges appears in The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry. Ilan Stavans, the book’s editor and the translator of “Borges and I,” stopped by the FSG offices to record the piece in Spanish and English for us: [Audio clip: view full post to listen] The other one, […]

Vladimir Sorokin’s Day of the Oprichnik, which Farrar, Straus and Giroux published in March, takes place in 2028, but it’s deeply indebted to—indeed, deeply enmeshed in—the past. Sorokin, whose knowledge of Russian literature and history is encyclopedic (without any of the stuffiness that such a word might suggest), has written a book haunted by the […]

In 1949 Theodor Adorno famously said that “To write a poem after Auschwitz is barbaric.” How, Adorno seemed to be asking, could existing forms of artistic representation be expected to convey something so aberrant, so distant from normal human behavior? Adorno’s comment thus represents a challenge to artists who seek to present the horror of […]

As this glimpse at the proofs of my versions of Leopardi’s Canti suggests, a translation, like an original poem, is never finished, only abandoned. And that remains true even after the book is published—I’ve already started collected “improvements” for a future printing. There’s usually a way to say what needs to be said more concisely, […]

I met with Richard Howard on a bright October morning in his apartment near Washington Square Park. He welcomed me as he always does, standing on the threshold, one foot in, one foot out, watching me walk down the corridor with a smile on his face. We kissed hello à la française. On that Saturday […]