Marian Schwartz has translated over seventy-five volumes of Russian classic and contemporary fiction, history, biography, criticism, and fine art. She is the principal English translator of the works of Nina Berberova and translated the New York Times’ bestseller The Last Tsar, by Edvard Radzinsky, as well as classics by Mikhail Bulgakov, Ivan Goncharov, Yuri Olesha, Mikhail Lermontov, and Leo Tolstoy. Her most recent publication is Andrei Gelasimov's Into the Thickening Fog. She is a past president of the American Literary Translators Association and the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts translation fellowships, as well as the 2014 Read Russia Prize for Contemporary Russian Literature and the 2016 Soeurette Diehl Frasier Award from the Texas Institute of Letters.
Ikuru Kuwajima is a Japanese photographer and artist who has been living in Russia for the past ten years and creating books with photographs and texts over the past several. His latest, I, Oblomov, is his interpretation of contemporary Russia and other post-Soviet countries through the concept of Oblomovshchina. The project consists of interior pictures, self-portraits, and quotes from Ivan Goncharov's novel Oblomov, both in the original Russian and in my English translation.
This creative take on Russia and Oblomovshchina has just won first prize at Photobookfest! The prize money will allow for the publication of several hundred copies with the unusual pillow-like cover you see in the photograph. I'm thrilled to be a small part of this unlikely project!
English PEN has announced its list of PEN Translates award winners, and one of them isSlav Sisters: The Dedalus Book of Russian Women Literature, edited by Natasha Perova, due to be published by Dedalus Limited in January 2018.
Among the stories in this exciting anthology is my translation of Olga Slavnikova's "The Stone Guest"--another of her "train stories," several of which I've translated and published over the years:
- “The Recluse.” Ezra: An Online Journal of Translation (June 2016)
- “The Cherepanova Sisters.” New England Review 34, 3-4 (2014): 276-293
- "Russian Bullet." American Reader (September 2012)
- “Substance.” Subtropics, no. 7 (Winter-Spring 2009): 38-54
- “Love in Train Car No. 7.” Chtenia 05 (Winter 2009)
I'm thrilled to be joined in Slav Sisters by an array of simply excellent translators--Robert Chandler, Ilona Chavasse, John Dewey, Boris Dralyuk, Andrew Bromfield English, Jamey Gambrell, Marian Schwartz, Arch Tait, and Joanne Turnbull--and look forward to reading all their contributions.
This year, the PEN Translates list includes a record number of women writers and translators and also covers books translated from 14 languages and 16 countries, including a Uyghur memoir, Palestinian short stories, Somali poetry, and a Czech feminist novel, Belarusian essays, and a Chinese graphic novel/memoir.
Mikhail Shishkin’s Maidenhair is an instant classic of Russian literature. It bravely takes on the eternal questions—of truth and fiction, of time and timelessness, of love and war, of Death and the Word—and is a movingly luminescent expression of the pain of life and its uncountable joys.
The Global Literature in Libraries Initiative strives to raise the visibility of world literature for adults and children at the local, national and international levels by facilitating close and direct collaboration between translators, librarians, publishers, editors, and educators.
It's an honor to be part of this worthy enterprise.
On opening night of Winternachten festival 2017, January, 19, 2017, at the Theater Aan Het Spu in the Hague, distinguished Russian writer Mikhail Shishkin made a powerful statement about the freedom of speech:
" . . . In 1968, in protest against the Soviet tanks in Prague, a few people went out on Red Square and unfurled signs that said “For our freedom and yours.” They were arrested immediately. I was seven at the time and knew nothing of this. Our entire enormous country learned nothing about this action. These peoples’ fates were destroyed, and they faced years of prison or psych hospitals. After the Soviet Union’s collapse, people started writing and making films about them. Their action became a symbol of resistance and they themselves became heroes of the struggle for freedom.
"When the KGB archives were opened up briefly, it became clear that other people in different cities of the vast empire had also protested in August 1968 and had also ended up in prison, but no one had heard anything at all about their protests and shattered fates. Human rights organizations in the West knew nothing about them, and no one demanded their release. Later, no films were made about them and they did not become heroes. They were not awarded prizes, and no one toasted their courage at international PEN congresses. They never gained a martyr’s fame; they were just tortured quietly and out of the public eye their sacrifices had not been in vain. . . ."
To read the full text in my English translation, click here.