Making a Long Book Move

One of the techniques Jergović uses happens at the level of the paragraph and amounts to a kind of clever closure, often of a longish sentence, sometimes more than one, that serves to slow down the pace but also gather up energy as the narrative moves on. It works, I think, a little like a… Continue reading Making a Long Book Move

That Wondrous Paragraph

And, oh my, Miljenko, you have some lovely paragraphs, which I knew already of course, but when I get to write them again in English, I feel them in a way that makes me new: In the winter of 1945, while Vjekoslav Luburić was cooking people alive in the basement of a Skenderija villa, and… Continue reading That Wondrous Paragraph

That familiar ache

Teaching an extra graduate course for a colleague hoping to come up for tenure ate up more of my time in the fall than I thought possible, leaving me far behind my self-imposed December benchmark for translating Kin (not to mention absenting me from this weblog). Then, out of the blue, I got asked to… Continue reading That familiar ache

Perfection and completeness

Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian are not the only language in which a single word covers both the categories in my title. It is a common Slavic root, and I’ve encountered it in many forms. Tolstoy’s Kitty Oblonsky, for instance, has a long and fascinating rumination in Anna Karenina on the idea of “sovershenstvo” (“completeness” and/or… Continue reading Perfection and completeness

Otata and Omama

Miljenko Jergovic uses the words “otata” and “omama,” which it took me a little bit of research to figure out are actual regionalisms for “Great-grandpa” and “Great-grandma.” They are used especially by Croats of German background, I assume as a kind of pidgin that takes the “o” of the German “Opa” (grandpa) and “Oma” (grandma)… Continue reading Otata and Omama

An Unfortunate Episode in the Rhetoric of Re-translation

Or, to be clear, it would be that thing in my title, if the book had been re-translated, but this is not really a re-translation, so mostly this is about editing. Unfortunately, the editor in this case, Mark Thompson, has chosen to position his work along the lines that are often reserved for the rhetoric… Continue reading An Unfortunate Episode in the Rhetoric of Re-translation

Human Rights, Translation, PEN

Fifteen thousand words into translating Jergović’s monumental Rod (sticking with the title Kin for now), I’m taking a short break to mention the PEN Awards festivities just completed in NYC last week. I was able to attend for the first time, thanks to an invitation from my friend Esther, who knew I was going to… Continue reading Human Rights, Translation, PEN

Big New Book

I’ve just signed a contract to translate a 1000-page novel. It is due to the publisher in May of 2017, so I’ll be working steadily on it for the next couple of years. The publisher (the visionary Archipelago Books) asked for a sample, but I had not read the book, which came out in 2013,… Continue reading Big New Book

Translation and Rhetoric

And with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and Indiana University: Call for Papers Special Issue of POROI on Rhetoric and Translation Guest Editor: Russell Scott Valentino, Indiana University Rhetorical theorists since Aristotle have known that rhetoric is a temporally and spatially situated form of communication that forges (or fails to… Continue reading Translation and Rhetoric