Accolades

A Novel of London reviewed by Vesna Goldsworthy in Asymptote

The international literary journal Asymptote has recently published an extensive review of Miloš Crnjanski's A Novel of London. This essay by international best-selling author Vesna Goldsworthy is a crash course in Crnjanski, as well as a knowledgable analysis of Will Firth's translation:

Miloš Crnjanski’s A Novel of London (1971) is one of the key works of twentieth century Serbian fiction. Given the novel’s significance in the former Yugoslavia, its powerful and enduringly relevant story of East–West migration and exile, and its meticulously evoked setting based on the author’s first-hand experience of London during and immediately after World War Two, it might seem surprising—shocking even—that Crnjanski’s work remained unpublished in English for so long. Yet all too often that is the fate of even the most important literature from small languages and small countries.
This belated English version appears half a century after the original, largely as a result of the personal endeavours of Will Firth, one of the pre-eminent translators of writing from the former Yugoslavia. I would love to say that it has been eagerly awaited. That may be true for the small number of Crnjanski scholars in the West, and for those members of the Serbian diaspora who already knew the novel. However, in the twelve months since its publication by the New Orleans-based publisher Diálogos, Crnjanski’s masterpiece has, so far as I know, yet to be mentioned on the pages of a literary review, let alone properly reviewed, barring a piece from the novel’s translator in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

 

The essay delves in some detail into the problematic world of publishing such monumental works from smaller countries:

As the Danish scholar Cay Dollerup observes in “Translation as Intercultural Communication,” most translation from small languages is “an imposition.” It is “deliberate, and driven by the source culture,” rather than arising from any demand or desire in the recipient culture—in this case, that of the Anglosphere. … Moreover, the fruit of the translator’s labour, like an unwanted gift, is often met with either polite indifference or perfunctory praise from potential readers who say they want more literature in translation but choose to spend their time in other ways. It is a given that no one makes money out of the enterprise. Sales of two hundred copies are considered a success even for the widely reviewed titles by those foreign authors who are still alive and available for readings and interviews in fluent English. Worse still, the study of literature remains largely compartmentalized by language: A Novel of London could only hope to appear on most university reading lists in the original, restricting it to the few students of Serbian.

 

On the brighter side (for us publishers), Goldsworthy notes:

In addition to a thorough introduction by David Norris, the leading scholar of Crnjanski in the West, the Diálogos edition carries a prefatory note on translating A Novel of London by Will Firth. In the process of translating, Firth has also added a vast apparatus of foot- and end-notes, creating what amounts to a critical edition and a valuable contribution to the study of the author and his work.

 

Our gratitude goes to Vesna Goldsworthy for this essay, a notable contribution in itself.

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Accolades

Hank Lazer reviewed by John Yau

John Yau's thoughtful and thorough review of Hank Lazer's COVID19 SUTRAS on the Massart blog:

COVID19 SUTRAS is full of tenderness, empathy, anger, despair, sadness — the ping-pong ball of feelings bouncing this way and that. Lazer, in his isolation, slows down all of this so he can examine these states of being, while attempting to understand consciousness and what it means to be alive and alert to this mutating, contagious world, yourself both within it and not.

Yau compares the book, quite fruitfully, with William Carlos Williams's Spring and All, which was also written on the fringe of a pandemic, the Spanish Flu, which ravaged the US and the world after World War I. Read Yau's review here.

 

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Accolades

Agadir reviewed at Kenyon Review

With his explosive style, surrealist imagery, and political critique, Khaïr-Eddine was among the most important avant-garde writers of his generation. Translators Pierre Joris and Jake Syersak forge a biting idiom in English to convey the apocalyptic world of Agadir, as well as the creative violence of its language. A substantial introduction by Khalid Lyamlahy serves to contextualize the work in its historical and literary context. The publication of the English translation of Agadir in 2020, with its portrayal of “catastrophe, the place from which questions will unceasingly arise,” feels fitting—unsettlingly and urgently so. —PBC

From the September 2020 Kenyon Review online.

 

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Zvonko Karanović Interview at Poetry International
Accolades

Zvonko Karanović Interview at Poetry International

Poetry International, in collaboration with 3:AM Magazine, is showcasing a  group of amazing young European poets, including our own Zvonko Karanović, author of Sleepwalkers on a Picnic. Steven Fowler, the Editor of the Maintenant Interview Series, interviewed Zvonko recently, saying:

Perhaps with some validation it is often suggested we currently inhabit an onanistic poetic culture. Mere decades ago there are innumerate examples of poets and their work changing the political landscape of their time, their words serving as a vital and indelible representation of protest, change and rebellion. It is unlikely that this phenomenon has become obsolete. Rather the poets creating this unforgettable work, which aims at the very heart of what they must suffer and observe, that they will not let pass unanswered, are off the radar of the zeitgeist. Yet in Serbia, in counter-cultural circles, Zvonko Karanović is a near legend. Working in the rebellious, revelatory manner of the Beats and the German new-wave, postwar poets, Karanović has been a relentless critic of Serbia and its actions over the last two decades. A Beat poet, in the most stringent and expansive manner, and an accomplished novelist, his work is resonant, dashing and singular. In an extraordinary interview, Karanovic speaks of his influences, the context of the Balkan wars and his experience of how Serbia, and Serbian poetry has altered in the countries tempestuous recent history. We are honoured to introduce Zvonko Karanović as the 27th edition of the Maintenant series.

Check out the entire interview here.

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Reviews

Never Made in America Reviewed on Don Yorty’s Explorations

Don Yorty provides a thoughtful review of both the book by Martín Barea Mattos and Mark Statman's translation, along with video of their joint performance in Montevideo at the Mundial Poetico (shot by yours truly). Certain of Barea Mattos' linguistically playful poems present difficulties in both translation and performance, as does the one you'll see performed in the video there, "La (E) resultó economia de lenguaje" ("The (E) came out of an economy of language"), a poem which resulted from Martín's fascination with the Spanish E, which is not only ubiquitous in the language but also on street signage, as in the "no parking" (ie no estacionmiento) sign. The poem reverses Perec's obsession in La Disparition, as the poem plays on the multitude of Spanish words which begin with E. 

Read the review here.

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