Wednesday, July 08, 2009

News and Reviews to Peruse this July

In the summer, a young translator's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of summer reading. There are plenty of new books in translation out there, along with reviews and reviewers giving their yay or nay.

Scott Esposito, editor of The Quarterly Conversation, has a review of J.M.G. Le Clézio's Desert up at The Critical Flame. This is the second of the French Nobel Prize-winner's work to be published in the United States. Esposito particularly admires the slow, deliberate pace of the novel and ends his review with praise:

Desert is a dramatization of certain things that Western civilization doesn’t — and won’t — get. That Le Clézio can make these things seem beautiful and precious without preaching or succumbing to petty romanticization makes it all the more unfortunate that he had to be awarded a Nobel prize before English-language readers could learn what he had to say.

Meanwhile, over at Three Percent, translator and bookseller Margarita Shalina reviews The Sacred Book of the Werewolf by Russian novelist Victor Pelevin. This novel transforms the Russian folkloric archetype of the fox and the wolf into their modern guises of the sex worker and the government secret agent. Shalina concludes her review with the suggestion that "Pelevin is attempting to relay that Russians have been living their lives in a perpetual state of moral ambiguity going back as far as the ancient folktales. In such a state, why shouldn’t a fox or a wolf or a sex worker or an FSB agent aspire to evolve into a higher being?"

Lastly, for your listening pleasure please do visit Poetry International Web, which, for a limited time, is featuring audio clips of talented poets from all over the world reading at the Poetry International Festival in Rotterdam, recorded by Radio Netherlands Worldwide from the 1970s onward. Listen to poems by Mahmoud Darwish, Pablo Neruda, Wole Soyinka, Joseph Brodsky, Inger Christensen, Derek Walcott, Ernst Jandl, and others. They won't be up there forever, so listen now!