‘I have an impressive list’

Doris Lessing can be fierce. But this morning, as you might expect from an 88-year-old woman who has just been awarded the world’s highest literary accolade, she is all smiles and kisses. The stairs of her ramshackle terraced house in West Hampstead are lined with bouquets of flowers. The upstairs living room, which I remember from the last time I interviewed her as slightly gloomy, crowded with towers of books and magazines and oppressive paintings and wall hangings, is today brightened by yet more flowers, all in deep shades of orange and red. “People obviously associate me with sunset,” she says. Her cat is in a sulk, she says, because he hasn’t been getting enough attention because of all the fuss. Yet despite the commotion of the past 24 hours we are alone, though the telephone, set to a piercing shrill – she is going slightly deaf – rings constantly with congratulations. The best, she says with unconcealed glee, was a call from her hero Gabriel Garcia Marquez. “I’ve been terribly touched by the range of people who are pleased for me.”
from Pocket

via Did you enjoy this article? Then read the full version from the author’s website.

Review: In ‘The Violet Hour,’ Great Writers Facing the Inevitable

In a 2004 television interview, Bill Moyers told his guest, Maurice Sendak, that he’d cheated death, thanks to his sublime body of work. “Most of us will live only as long as our grandchildren remember us,” Mr. Moyers said. “But you will never die.”

from Pocket

via Did you enjoy this article? Then read the full version from the author’s website.

Finding Ravana by Nabina Das (Indian Short Fiction, May-June 2015)

I wonder if Prof. Valmiki would have approved of this as a fitting way to tell a story. Or even tell his story. But what can I do if I don’t take matters in my own hands? Even if it means taking up a kitchen knife. Sleepless and embattled as it is I am with so many problems that have fuelled my insomnia. Which is why now I’m set on my uber-smart ‘brain-gain’ mission. I, Sita Devi, am not a super heroine or Batwoman. I’m sharp and intuitive, a twenty-first century woman. And in my Ramayana, I’m also seeking love as an unclaimed woman. I do, I do, I want to tell the new guy (they say his name’s Rama) on the newly built Ayodhya block. But he appeared in five different shirts over the last three days (gosh, a feminine trait, would you think?) whenever I passed him by. Never mind. A nervous sort, he’s always reading or pacing up and down the driveway. Quite different from the ‘nightly intruder’. Oh, yeah, there IS one, although he has not paid me a visit yet. But he’s been after many beauties they say. I read about him at the newspaper stand: WOMAN REPORTS BEDROOM INTRUSION. An idea immediately formed in my head. What better way to script a new Ramayana! Perhaps Rama would notice me better if the intruder (let him be named Ravana too…) came to me. “I’m fine, don’t you worry,” I said on a recent visit to my shrink who, I could tell from his longish ambivalent comments, was giving his best shot to get me back in control. Confidence, he suggested, is the key. I have it. It’s a knife.

Well, now I have to tell you all about it.

Let me make one thing clear though. I, Sita Devi, admit that getting inside the head of an insane person can drive you nuts. However, that’s the teaser. That’s why, even at a friendly event like the annual book fair the other day, I ‘seemed’ uncomfortable locking eyes with anyone, especially men over six feet. They hovered over me intentionally, or I made myself think so. I’m puny. That doesn’t mean every tall man, or even woman, with his/her gait should have created any turbulence in the little invisible shielded space I wear around myself. Maybe I overreacted. My eyes sometimes betrayed my mood. Hesitant. Willing to seek out nevertheless. At times they darted over the faces that came towards me in a careful scrutiny. For those that came from behind, I turned around to explore them, cumbersomely, but I gave the impression I had perfected the art of walking sideways, occasionally glancing backwards. I’m quite sure they looked at me momentarily and ignored me, or maybe wondered – why does this woman walk awkwardly? Then they went on about their business. I particularly found it hard to examine those that suddenly appeared from over my shoulders. To turn full face at them, I had almost to twist my body in an ‘S’. That way my neck hurt. Others who saw me in that looped posture likely presumed that I suffer from a nameless muscular disease that forces the human body to take all kinds of strange shapes. But I, Sita Devi–twenty-three, almost always dressed in hugging T-shirts and wide-cut denims secured with broad studded belts, pale-complexioned and thin down to my bones (I am pretty proud of my size) had this two-headed feeling. I wanted to see as well as flee a face that ‘supposedly’ haunted me. When books of all sizes and bindings stared from the makeshift stalls and tables, and the aroma of hot chocolate at the café corner had kids excited on that moist cool afternoon, all that occupied my mind was a man, a six-foot tall intruder.

from Pocket

via Did you enjoy this article? Then read the full version from the author’s website.

Name the Translator (Lucas Klein)

Image result for translation workRecently two of my Facebook friends posted links to reviews of their work that neither named nor noticed them. This would be inconceivable if my friends were authors, film or stage actors, or artists, but my friends are translators, so not being mentioned is par for the proverbial course. Add this latest offense to the Los Angeles Review of Books write-up of Howard Goldblatt’s translation of Sandalwood Death by 2012 Nobel Prizewinner Mo Yan (University of Oklahoma Press), which prompted the discussion on the Modern Chinese Literature & Culture listserv that led to my Paper Republic blog post “Translation & Translation Studies as a Social Movement,” and to The New Yorker’s review of Anne Milano Appel’s translation of The Art of Joy, by Goliarda Sapienza (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), which I mentioned in my Q & A with the journal Asymptote.

Read more: http://wordswithoutborders.org/dispatches/article/name-the-translator#ixzz3Yt4eymxI

from Pocket

via Did you enjoy this article? Then read the full version from the author’s website.

Identity Theft and the Future of World Literature (SHAUN RANDOL, April 28, 2015)

forbidden-literature-the-use-of-the-word-19361

Born and raised in Dublin, James Joyce never published in his native Irish tongue. Despite his roots and even though his stories take place in Ireland,Ulysses, Dubliners, and his other works are not contributions to Irish literature. Written and published in English, like most of his work,1 Joyce’s novels are contributions to English literature.

The same can be said of many authors of renown who choose to forego writing in their mother tongue. Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and Vladimir Nabokov’sLolita are not contributions to Nigerian, Dominican, or Russian literatures, respectively; they are part of the English literature canon.

In writing and publishing in another language (without translation), the author loses a sense of him or herself. To put a finer point on the matter, the identity is not lost—it is stolen. That’s the case Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o has made consistently since his seminal Decolonising the Mind(1986) and reinforces most recently in Globalectics: Theory and the Politics of Knowing (2012). On April 24 in New York, he distilled his theory in a masterful conversation hosted by Warscapes at The New School University.

Authors experience literal identity theft, Ngũgĩ asserts, when they write in a language that is not their own. He speaks most passionately about this loss of identity for African writers, who adopt and write in the main European languages—English, French, German, and Spanish. This Europhone writing, he quipped in the hour-long discussion, includes anglophone, francophone, germanophone, hispanophone—“too many phonies.”

from Pocket

via Did you enjoy this article? Then read the full version from the author’s website.