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The (Unbearable?) Lightness of Translation

Anna Genova has published an interview with me--in Russian--at Russkii mirdiscussing in particular my long association with the great twentieth-century writer Nina Berberova, my translation of Anna Kareninaand my principal focus on contemporary writers. I was very happy to have an opportunity to bring up the subject of the swift transformation of the Russian language in the decades since the fall of the Soviet Union, a phenomenon of endless fascination--and frustration--for me.

Hats off to Russell Valentino, who noticed the Kundera reference in the article's title.

Post Says It's Time To Read Mikhail Shishkin's Maidenhair

maidenhairAccording to Chad Post, writing in Publishers Weekly,  Maidenhair is one of the twenty best books you've never read:

One of the best books I've read in the past decade, Maidenhair is the sort of densely beautiful book where, after reading 50 pages, you may not know what's going on—there are three distinct storylines, all of which bounce off one another, without completely connecting until the very end—but you'll know that what you're reading is an absolute masterpiece of world literature.

Time to fix that!

Full disclosure: Maidenhair was published by Chad Post's fine publishing house, Open Letter Books.

Soeurette Diehl Frasier Translation Prize from the Texas Institute of Letters

Anna Karenina coverAt their annual banquet last night, the Texas Institute of Letters gave me the Soeurette Diehl Frasier Award for Best Translation for my translation of Anna Karenina. It's a great honor to be recognized by writers this smart, inquisitive, and accomplished. 

Texas, with its large and increasing numbers of readers, writers, and translators from all over the world, is fertile ground for new attention to be brought to international literature. Judging from last night's comments, I can say with certainty that some serious conversations lie ahead.

My thanks once again, to the Institute for Literary Translation in Moscow, a nonprofit organization whose primary goal is the promotion of Russian literature around the world, Without their grant, this book would not have been possible.

Miranda July Takes Berberova to Her Desert Island

tatteredcloak coverMiranda July is a filmmaker, artist, and writer. Her most recent work is The First Bad Man, a novel. For his bookshop and website One Grand Books, editor Aaron Hicklin asked July to name the ten books she'd take with her if she were marooned on a desert island. On March 11, 2016, her list, "My Bookshelf, Myself," ran in the New York Times Style Magazine and included the brilliant choice of Nina Berberova's The Tattered Cloak and Other Stories, which was first published, in her lifetime, in hardback by Alfred A. Knopf and in paperback by Vintage. Subsequently, this volume and five others became part of the brilliant New Directions catalog and remains very much in print.

For the story of how the title story acquired its title, you can read my essay at Words Without Borders, "The Tattered Cloak: The Story of the Title," which illustrates just how convoluted the path to a title can be.

The Tattered Cloak and Other Stories corresponds roughly to Berberova's collection Облегчение участи [Sentence Commuted]--which Berberova considered her finest fiction.