Two Words: The Blog of the Center for the Art of Translation

Celebrate National Arts Education Week!

Posted on September 15, 2016, 01:18:00 PM

It's always exciting for us to celebrate National Arts Education Week, since we fervently believe that all kids should have the chance to experience the tranformative power of the arts. This year is especially eventful, since the new federal education law includes an expanded focus on the arts as an integral part of a good education--a departure from the past 10+ years.

10 sometimes-surprising facts about learning and the arts:

1. The arts improve student learning and engagement.

2. Students who study art are 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement and 3 times more likely to be awarded for school attendance.

3. Arts and music education programs are mandatory in countries that rank consistently among the highest for math and science test scores, like Japan, Hungary, and the Netherlands.

4. The new federal Every Student Succeeds Act clearly mandates the arts as a core academic subject.

5. Federal funding for the arts and humanities is $250 million a year, while the National Science Foundation is funded around the $5 billion mark.

6. Arts education encourages the kind of creative and critical thinking necessary for our 21st century world.

7. Sustained learning in music and theater correlates strongly with higher achievement in both math and reading.

8. Arts in the schools help close the achievement gap: high-poverty schools in Chicago that participated in an arts education initiative made huge strides in closing the achievement gap between high and low-income students.

9. In-school and out of school art studies and activities help keep high-risk students in school.

10. New brain research shows that not only does music improve skills in math and reading, but it promotes creativity, social development, personality adjustment, and self-worth.

And one bonus fact: The arts make kids happy!
We know that the more creative outlets kids have, the happier they are.

Read about the top 10 skills children learn from the arts, and about the growing trend in many states to encourage schools to use Title I funds earmarked for low-income students to support arts education (which has been shown to be incredibly effective at increasing engagement and student achievement).

We're fortunate to have many arts education resources in the Bay Area and happy to be part of the Arts Education Alliance of the Bay Area, a coalition of providers dedicated to increasing access to arts education in San Francisco.

From the Two Lines Press Blog: the Scoop On the Two Lines Journal Redesign

Posted on September 12, 2016, 04:17:00 PM by Two Lines Press

The Fall 2016 issue of the Two Lines journal is out this week, and it's full of changes. It's got a new look, with added color and original languages incorporated into the design.

Managing Editor Jessica Sevey, who oversaw the new design, is interviewed on the Two Lines Press blog about how it all came about:

What made Two Lines decide to redesign the journal?

We’ve wanted to add color to the journal for a while—to make the text stand out but also as another way to differentiate the languages. This specific design came from discussing how we could distinguish each poem and excerpt in a creative way. We started working with a talented designer, Isabel Urbina Peña, who specializes in typefaces (she has designed her own)—and so the titles of the pieces are one of the first things you notice, the unique design and layout of the type.

What are the specific challenges of redesigning a multilingual journal of translation?

We wanted to maintain the en face layout for the original language and English translation, and though some interesting ideas for layout came up in the redesign—one idea was to overlay the English translation over the original language, for instance—we knew that we wanted to be conscious of the readability of each piece. It was important to balance the new design with functionality, making sure each excerpt and poem was presented as it was originally meant to be read. We were conscious of preserving the original spacing, line breaks, and line lengths of poems, for instance, rather than trying to create a perfect alignment across the languages.

Read the rest of the post and see more images, order your copy of the journal or subscribe for a full year!

Fall Two Voices Event Preview

Posted on August 30, 2016, 11:31:00 AM by Erin Branagan

Two Voices has some amazing events lined up for this fall, including a conversation with the translator of a Nobel Prize winner's newest book, a gallery reading with a Japanese poet and performance artist, a celebration of the great Argentine writer Julio Cortázar, a Two Lines Press author tour, and more!

Check out information below and read all the details on our News and Events page.

On Thursday, September 8, we kick off a new season of Salons with Bela Shayevich, who translated tne newest title from 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature winner Svetlana Alexievich. Secondhand Time is a look at the generation that saw the end of Communism and the first post-Soviet generation in Russia and former USSR states. Consisting almost entirely of interviews with ordinary people, the book is a window onto the momentous changes experienced over the past 25 years. Come join the conversation!

On September 12 we're partnering with fine book printer Arion Press to celebrate the release of a new limited edition of Gustave Flaubert's Bouvard and Pécuchet, with translator Mark Polizzotti and special guests.

If you're interested in contemporary Japanese poetry, you won't want to miss our September 20 event with poet and performance artist Yoshimasu Gozo and translator Forrest Gander. Gozo will perform and discuss his work, including his upcoming poetry collection Alice Iris Red Horse.

In October we're thrilled to host the 39th annual American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) Conference opening night reception! If you're attending the conference or are just a fan of literature in translation and would like to spend time with your favorite translators, join us October 6 at Parliament in old Oakland for a fantastic evening.

On October 12 we continue our long partnership with Litquake and Green Apple Books on the Park to bring you a celebration of Argentine writer Julio Cortázar. Celebrate the release of Save Twilight and hear readings from local translators from their favorite Cortázar works.

The highlight of this fall will be a book tour with A Spare Life author and poet Lidija Dimkovska. We'll celebrate the release of this new Two Lines Press book with readings in 10 cities over two weeks in October--no matter where you are, you'll have a chance to meet the author!

Dimkovska was awarded the 2013 European Union Prize for Literature for the novel, which has been translated from the Macedonian by Christina Kramer. Read more about the book and find out if you'll be able to attend a reading:

October 5: Community Bookstore, Brooklyn, NY

October 7: The Ivy Bookshop, Baltimore, MD

October 12: Malaprop's Bookstore, Asheville, NC
October 13: Prairie Lights Books, Iowa City, IA
October 14: Seminary Co-op Bookstore, Chicago, IL

October 15: Twin Cities Book Festival, Saint Paul, MN
October 18: Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA
October 19: City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco, CA

October 20: Diesel: A Bookstore, Oakland, CA

October 21: Skylight Books, Los Angeles, CA

We'll also host Salons on November 10 and December 8 with translators Donald Nicholson-Smith talking about Moroccan poet Abdellatif Laabi's In Praise of Defeat; and with Chris Andrews in conversation about contemporary Argentine author César Aira.

Be sure to check the News and Events page for complete details, we hope to see you this fall!

A Women in Translation Month recap

Posted on August 29, 2016, 12:23:00 PM by Erin Branagan

As Women in Translation Month wraps up we've pulled together our posts from over the course of the past 30 days so you can make sure you didn't miss anything! (The complete posts can be found on the Two Lines Press blog).

Our Fall releases were written and translated by women, and we're very excited about both A Spare Life by Lidijia Dimkovska (translated by Christina Kramer), and Trysting by Emmanuelle Pagano (translated by Jennifer Higgins and Sophie Lewis). We're pretty sure you'll be hooked too once you check out our catalog!

Earlier Two Lines Press titles from women authors include Marie NDiaye's All My Friends and Self-Portrait in Green (both translated by Jordan Stump), and Naja Marie Aidt's Baboon (translated by Denise Newman).

We put together a reading list at the beginning of the month and also asked Associate Editor Emily Wolahan to make some poetry recommendations.

She's recommended 10 women poets in translation to read now, and wrote about poet Chus Pato's "Flesh of Leviathan", translated from the Galician by Erin Moure, describing Pato as "a haunting, unique voice that speaks to so many questions we ask ourselves as poets and readers. What is the state of the lyric? What is our inheritance from Romanticism? Where do we go from here?"

While you're waiting for our September Salon with Bela Shayevich, who translated Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich's upcoming book Secondhand Time (in which "everyday Russian citizens recount the past thirty years, showing us what life was like during the fall of the Soviet Union and what it’s like to live in the new Russia left in its wake"), you can listen to audio from past events with great international authors like the bestselling Elena Ferrante, Brazilian modernist Clarice Lispector, the often-overlooked Argentine author Silvina Ocampo, Korean poet Kim Hyesoon, and contemporary Greek writer Sophia Nikolaidou.

If this is the first you're hearing of Women in Translation Month, this blog has some great ways to support the effort, plus book-a-day recommendations!

Vive la France!

Posted on July 12, 2016, 02:04:00 PM


Happy Bastille Day, mes amis! It's been a sad July for French letters, as earlier this month, legendary poet Yves Bonnefoy died at the age of 93. Bonnefoy, who won the Goncourt prize for poetry in 1987, was part of a generation of writers that included the world-renowned writers Pierre Chappuis and Jacques Réda, both of whom you can read online in our Two Lines journal archives.

If you're looking for even more French literature to gorge yourself on, we've got you covered. Let poet Claire Malroux lead you down into the grottoes, or else float into the clouds with Vénus Khoury-Ghata in poems translated by the award-winning poet Marilyn Hacker. Then sneak off to Switzerland for a rendezvous with Swiss poet Vahé Godel and hop over to Quebec to read Chilean-born Marilú Mallet's story about refugees, translated by J.T. Townley.

If you're looking for something you can bring to the beach...

(Read the rest of this celebratory post on the Two Lines Press blog!)

Moody Brazilian Lit to Beat the Summer Heat

Posted on July 5, 2016, 11:58:00 AM

If you haven't had a chance to read Quiet Creature on the Corner, the latest book from Two Lines Press, it's on sale for the entire month of July along with all of our titles!

The book marks the English-language debut of Brazilian author João Gilberto Noll, considered one of Brazil's literary legends and ranked alongside leading Latin American writers like Cesar Aira and Mario Bellatin.

In a translation by Adam Morris, an unemployed poet finds himself thrown in jail after inexplicably raping his neighbor, but his time in prison is mysteriously cut short when he’s abruptly taken to a new home—a countryside manor where his every need seen to. All that’s required of him is to write poetry.

Written during Brazil’s transition from military dictatorship to democracy in the late 1980s—and capturing the disjointed feel of that rapidly changing world—Quiet Creature on the Corner is mysterious and abrupt, pivoting on choices that feel both arbitrary and inevitable.

The book has received some fantastic reviews, some of which we've pulled together here:

Publisher's Weekly writes that "readers will be delighted that his 1991 mid-career work has now been translated into English."

The Chicago Review of Books called Quiet Creature "as urgently relevant as any contemporary novel...[it] augurs a notable English-language career for João Gilberto Noll." It's "oddly accessible yet encourages multiple readings."

3:AM magazine objects to comparisons to David Lynch and Franz Kafka: "There is something else going on in Quiet Creature, something that locates its existential terror not in the apprehension of dream—or at least not exclusively—but rather in the intensification of the mundane, the cruelty that lurks beneath banal reality."

Electric Literature compares the narrator's detachment to Albert Camus's The Stranger.

Numéro Cinq magazine calls the book "an absorbing introduction to this esteemed Brazilian author."

Reading in Translation says "Quiet Creature on the Corner confounds our expectations of what literature should be by denying us the opportunity to see ourselves more clearly through a character, but it is that refusal which enriches the experience all the more."

Guernica magazine featured an interview with translator Adam Morris last month which touched on Noll’s place in Latin American letters, his influences, and the relevance of the novel  in light of the current political upheaval in Brazil.

Read an excerpt of the book, or buy it alone or as part of our "East European Beach Read" Set (owing to Noll's Eastern European spirit, if not nationality), along with a short story collection from East German author Wolfgang Hilbig and novel by Czech modernist Richard Weiner.

Make the beach a slightly darker, more insidiously frightening place, just don't forget the sunscreen!

Your 2016 Translation Summer Reading List

Posted on July 1, 2016, 12:55:00 PM by Erin Branagan

We've had an eventful (and exhausting) start to summer already, so just in time for relaxation we've put together suggestions for translation titles to check out. No weighty political tomes on this list!

If Yuri Herrera's The Transmigration of Bodies (translated by Lisa Dillman) is as thought-provoking as his earlier Signs Preceding the End of the World, you're in luck.

If you enjoyed Danish author Naja Marie Aidt's Baboon (translated by 2015 PEN Translation Award winner Denise Newman), you'll be excited to read fellow Dane Dorthe Nors's newest release, So Much For That Winter (translated by Misha Hoekstra). It's on the July IndieNext list and has gotten raves in multiple media outlets.

We hosted some amazing writers and translators at the Bay Area Book Festival at the beginning of June, and their books are great additions to any summer reading list.

French writer Jean-Philippe Blondel's The 6:41 to Paris (translated by Alison Anderson) is "a touching portrayal of how any of us might feel when unexpectedly confronted by the detritus of young love" (from a New York Times review).

Chilean-Norwegian writer Pedro Carmona-Alvarez has just released The Weather Changed, Summer Came and So On, "a haunting novel about love, loss, and identity" translated from the Norwegian by Diane Oatley.

Swedish actor and author Jonas Karlsson's, The Room (translated by Neil Smith), is the Kafka-esque tale of a government clerk who discovers a secret room that no one else will acknowledge. Read an interview with the author about his writing process.

Algerian-Italian Amara Lakhous's newest book, The Prank of the Good Little Virgin of Via Ormea (translated by Antony Shugaar) is a "fun and farcical" examination of identity in today's multicultural society. And check out his earlier titles, including award-winning Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio (translated by Ann Goldstein, who also translated Elena Ferrante's Neopolitan Novels--another excellent summer read).

Another young Norwegian author, Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold, penned The Faster I Walk, the Smaller I Am (translated by Kerri A. Pierce), which won the Tarjei Vesaas First Book Prize in 2009.

Deborah Smith, translator and recent Man Booker International Prize winner for her translation of Han Kang's The Vegetarian, includes some choice summer reading options in her Five Book Plan on the Verso Books website. She highlights Marie NDiaye's Ladivine as her top choice. (If you like that book, be sure to read her titles from Two Lines Press, All My Friends and Self-Portrait in Green--all translated by Jordan Stump).

Also on Smith's list: Vaseline Buddha by Jung Young Moon (translated from Korean by Jung Yewon), Second-Hand Time by Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich (translated from Russian by Bela Shayevich), Load Poems Like Guns: Women's Poetry From Herat, Afghanistan (translated from Persian Dari by Farzana Marie), and Fever by Samaresh Basu (translated from Bengali by Arunava Sinha). You can find more Verso summer reading choices on their website.

For those for whom summer is not complete with at least one good detective novel, Melville House Press has an entire International Crime imprint.

Send us your summer reading choices on Facebook and Twitter!


June Translation News Roundup

Posted on June 30, 2016, 03:15:00 PM by Sarah Coolidge

As we hurtle full speed into summer, we're taking a look back on what happened this month in the world of translation.

Legendary translator Gregory Rabassa died this month at the age of 94 (photo left). Rabassa was a key figure in bringing the writers of the Latin American "Boom" movement to English readers. He translated such iconic works as Gabriel García Márquez's 100 Years of Solitude and Julio Cortázar's Hopscotch. Readers of world literature have been honoring his life and translators—Ezra E. Fitz and Christina MacSweeney among them—have been talking about the profound impact Rabassa had on their careers and lives.

Here's a great interview with Rabassa from 2013.

Are you putting together your summer reading list? Author Daniel Saldaña París assembled a list of 10 Essential Spanish-Language Books. And they're not necessarily the one's you'd expect! Get reading!

The Los Angeles Review of Books's interview series with translators has continued with Michael Hofmann, Edith Grossman, Ann Goldstein, and Jamey Gambrell.

Deborah Smith, the translator of The Vegetarian and winner of this year's Man Booker International Prize alongside its Korean author Han Kang, shared her thoughts on translation and fidelity at the Seoul International Book Fair.

Your Guide to the 2nd Annual Bay Area Book Festival

Posted on May 31, 2016, 04:24:00 PM by Erin Branagan

The Bay Area Book Festival returns to downtown Berkeley for a second year this Saturday and Sunday, June 4 and 5!

Even bigger than the debut festival last year, it will feature more than 250 authors and speakers (including writers from 13 countries), 120 events, and expanded children and teen programs.

The festival has also launched a literary film series in cooperation with the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive: “Author, Auteur” will show 10 films directly related to writers and writing, including a documentary about Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz.

Executive Director Michael Holtmann will moderate two panels:

On Saturday, June 4 at 11:30 am, the topic is “Confronting the Past: Time and Memory in Contemporary Fiction” with French novelist Jean-Philippe Blondel, Chilean-Norwegian poet Pedro Carmona-Alvarez, Swedish actor and author Jonas Karlsson, and Norwegian writer Kjersti Annesdatter-Skomsvold.

And on Sunday, June 5 at 11:45 am, he’ll lead a discussion on “The Art of Translation” with translator Katrina Dodson, Algerian-Italian writer Amara Lakhous, South Korean author Jung Young-Moon, and novelist, poet and translator Idra Novey.

Other festival highlights include a special event on Thursday, June 2 at Freight & Salvage with spoken word poet and musician Saul Williams, and “Literary Erotic Fanfiction Based on the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” at the Marsh Theater Saturday, June 5.

The festival will also be the site of Lacuna, an art installation made out of 50,000 books.

With more than 20 events focused on international literature and ranging from Nordic noir to literary Taiwan, translation, and crossing borders, there’ll be plenty to enjoy for fans of world literature and translation.

The complete festival lineup is online.

Two Lines Press will have a table on Literary Lane (Addison St. between Shattuck Ave. and Milvia St., see map), so be sure to stop by to chat and peruse our books! We’ll have all the latest titles available for sale.

May Translation News Roundup

Posted on May 27, 2016, 04:23:00 PM by Erin Branagan

May was a busy month for literature in translation, and we’ve rounded up some of the biggest news in case you missed it!

Author Han Kang and translator Deborah Smith were awarded the Man Booker International Prize for Kang’s novel The Vegetarian. The prize celebrates "the finest global fiction in translation", and will be jointly shared between the author and translator—each will receive £25,000.

The prize may help South Korea’s efforts to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, outlined in a recent "On the Media" story.

Two Lines Press has a great interview with Deborah Smith about her love of Korean literature.

Our very own Executive Director Michael Holtmann was interviewed not once but twice by the BBC World Service after the prizewinners were announced. He praised the art of translation and also declared that multiple statues should be erected in their honor. Listen to the short clip here (start at 35:15), or a longer interview here (start at 17:30).

Han Kang has posted a reading list of books by contemporary Korean authors available now or forthcoming in English.

The Best Translated Book Award went to Yuri Herrera’s Signs of Life Preceding the End of the World (translated by Lisa Dillman), and Rilke Shake, by Angelica Freitas and translated by Hilary Kaplan. We hosted an event with Herrera in conversation with Daniel Alarcón last year.

Recent research commissioned by the Man Booker International Prize shows that UK sales of literature in translation grew 96% from 2001. They also found that “translated fiction books sell better than books originally written in English, particularly in literary fiction.”

The Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) Firecracker award winners were officially announced May 19—you can read about the winning books here. (Wolfgang Hilbig’s The Sleep of the Righteous made the shortlist, and you can get a copy at the Two Lines Press website)

The New Republic reviewed Marie NDiaye’s Ladivine and also called All My Friends and Self-Portrait in Green (from Two Lines Press) “perfect introductions to NDiaye.” Order the books and experience this "unique voice among other contemporary French writers".

If you haven’t yet gotten your copy of João Gilberto Noll’s Quiet Creature on the Corner, we’re still offering the book for just $6.95.