Translations to Look Forward to in Summer and Fall 2022
In the world of translation, especially as a translator of color myself, I find it important to read both translations and writings that are about various languages (including emotions), about acknowledging the translator’s identity, and about topics that aren’t talked about enough, such as mental health, belonging, and more. The reading list can go as long as we’d like; as for this summer and fall, there are three titles I’m especially looking forward to.
Violent Phenomena: 21 Essays on Translation
Ed. Kavita Bhanot & Jeremy Tiang
Tilted Axis Press
“For the past few years, I’ve written and rewritten this line in journals and proposals: literary translation is a tool to make more vivid the relationships between Afro-descendant people in the Americas and around the world.”
This anthology gathers writings from a stellar list of writers and translators, including Khairani Barokka, Anton Hur, Layla Benitez-James, Hamid Roslan, Lúcia Collischonn, Sawad Hussain, Aaron Robertson, Yogesh Maitreya, Onaiza Drabu, Mona Kareem, Barbara Ofosu-Somuah, Madhu Kaza, among many others. I look forward to reading writings by contributors from around the world to share their perspectives about decolonizing translation. How do we talk about literary translation now? What can we change in our translation practices to make underrepresented literature seen? What hasn’t been discussed enough, and as translators, how do we navigate our path in the publishing industry?
Trans. Heather Cleary
A young journalist, Zoe, begins investigating a mysterious murder of a famous healer, Paloma. Zoe travels from Mexico City to a remote village, San Felipe, where she encounters Feliciana, who recounts her journey becoming an acknowledged healer in the community. As the two narratives interweave, Zoe finds herself walking on the path of understanding the history of her own journey as a woman, her struggles finding her own place, like many other women, in a patriarchal society.
Written by Mexican writer Brenda Lozano, who was chosen as part of the Bogotá 39 by the Hay Festival in 2017, Witches centers on women’s identity, two different yet parallel lives with contrasts between past and present, rural and urban, and how they bond together with shared struggles and emotions. The story explores the magic of language, its potential to heal, and what it means to move between different worlds. How do we understand personal history when trauma and vulnerability are involved? How do these narratives come together to mirror each other and exist with their own identities? I’m excited to explore Heather Cleary’s translation of Witches, which features various linguistic terms that are beyond the main language the story is written in. How do we navigate the unfamiliar during our process, and how do we understand the political contexts and other backgrounds that are crucial to understanding these terms and the larger story?
I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki
Trans. Anton Hur
Baek Sehee, an accomplished social-media director at a publishing house, begins seeing a psychiatrist to discuss her depression. She hides her feelings at work, and making such efforts is overwhelming. But if she’s feeling so anxious and hopeless, what is it about her craving for her favorite dish, tteokbokki?
Documenting her dialogues with her psychiatrist over a twelve-week period, Baek unties the reactions and harmful behaviors that keep her in the mental loop. How do we talk about what we’re actually feeling to someone else? How do we discuss emotions, and ways we coexist with our anxiety, depression, and others? Conversations about mental health, belonging, and finding our language to bring our emotions into shape are necessary. I look forward to delving into language in a different structure and exploring how these conversations interact with mine, as well as the exchanges that were shared with me. Translated by Anton Hur, whose work was shortlisted in the 2022 International Booker Prize, this is another work in translation we shouldn’t miss this year.
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