The Birdcage Archives

Thursday 16 June 2011

I want Translations!

Hello Gentle Reader

Well after my rude remark about the feminist judge, and her resignation over Philip Roth winning the Man Booker International Prize of 2011, and the fact that I feel somewhat poor about the way that I had talked about it, and the insults that I had thrown at the entire idealism of feminism in general, I suppose its most appropriate to tune down the opinions or rather speak them in a much more different way. If an opinion – no matter how great or wise; is spoken in such crude and crass way, then it loses any value in intellectual or human pursuits. It just comes off as an ass doing what they do best: making an ass of themselves. Of course this not an apology at all. Never apologize for ones opinions. If you believe in them whole heartedly you are doomed both to have your world view viciously changed or you will find that you get better at defending your opinion. It’s one of the two. A black and white way to look at it, yes, but sometimes all the world is, is black and white.

Well anyhow, being born in an English speaking country – with other regions that speak other languages; Québec speaks French, and I think it was in either New Brunswick or was it Nova Scotia, knowing my luck its Newfoundland! – a region actually speaks Gaelic or something like that! I know it’s like an old English form of language from way back when. Anyhow there are places here that I am sure that speak the old Aboriginal/native American languages also – even after the residential schools tried to beat that out of them. Now that’s a sore part of Canada’s history.

Anyhow what is trying to be said here, is that being born into a primary speaking English country, one will find that in order to read books of considerable literary merit, they have to truly sift through the horrible penny dreadful’s, dime novels, pulp fiction children – in other words sift through that Nora Roberts, Daniele Steel, Nicolas Sparks, James Patterson, Dan Brown. John Grisham, Janet Evanovich, Dean Koontz – and just because I think these authors overrated: Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Michael Crichton, Anne Rice. Once you get through all that you begin to find authors of more interesting value. However the bookshelves are more or less, clouded with these authors. But over the past while, I have slowly and surely become more and more interested in world literature. I mean I discover authors on my own. With the internet such a good resource, I have been able to discover authors from all over the world.

Without the internet I would have been able to discover Victor Pelevin, for instance. Also without the internet I would not have been able to discover who wins the Nobel Prize for Literature because, quite frankly, it appears that such a prize here is seen as uninteresting. I don’t know why, I guess Canada has no real appreciation for its authors or authors of the world now, as I am slowly starting to figure that out. Without the internet I would not have discovered Michel Houellebecq and the list of course goes on.

Yet with the internet has also become a problem. I end up discovering authors that I really would think of enjoy reading. Authors like the recently departed, Bella Akhmadulina. Or what about my recent discovery of the German author Ulrich Holbein who appears to be a good one for the modern or contemporary author of avant grade, novelist – and a real one at that, none of this lazy shit of not even bothering to do something innovative but just call their lazy or poor use of punctuation as experimental. What about Doron Rabinovici and his novel “Andernorts,” roughly translated as “Elsewhere.” What about Judith Zander’s German Book Prize short listed novel “Dinge die Wir Heute Sagten,” which is once again roughly translated into English as “Things We Said Today.” Not to mention the winner of the German Book Prize of 2010 Melinda Nadj Abonji and her prize winning novel “Tauben fliegen auf,” or “Falcons without Falconers.”

Then of course there is the works of the 2009 German Book Prize that I am interested in reading. One of those is Rainer Merkel’s novel “Lichtjahre Entfernt,” also known as “Light Years Away.” What about Herta Muller 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature winner “Atemschaukel,” which is translated into “Everything I Own I Carry With Me.” Then there is the novel by the young Austrian writer Clemens J. Setz and his novel “Die Frequenzen,” or “The Frequencies.” Then there is the winner Katrin Schmidt and her novel “Du Stirbst Nicht,” which can be translated into English as “You're Not Going to Die.” And then there are the other authors like Norbert Scheuer and Stephan Thome and their novels (“Überm Rauschen,” – or “The Rushing of the Weir,” by Norbert Scheuer. And “Grenzgang,” – or “Border Walk,” by Stephan Thome.)

Then there is the work of the Romanian author Dan Sociu and his supposed “Miserablism,” writing as it has been dubbed by critics. Then there is Dora Pavel another Romanian author whose work appears so interesting to me. Then there is Mircea Nedelciu yet another Romanian author who passed away back in the late 90’s – 1999 to be honest. How can I not mention the Austrian writer, that Elfide Jelinek said deserved the Nobel Prize for Literature more than her. Peter Handke, and how all the books that I wish to read, are all but unavailable or “sold out.”

What about the most famous works of Claude Simon the Nobel Laureate of Literature of 1985, who though he was critically acclaimed was not commercially successful, and could perhaps be seen as slowly going out of print. Then there is the Booker Prize Shortlisted author of the 2010 Booker Prize for his novel “C,” and though the critic’s favourites he lost to the “The Finkler Question,” by Howard Jacobson – whose works from the looks of it to me, are going back into print because of the Booker Prize. Tom McCarthy could have become one of those authors that writes and writes and writes only to see such small success here and there – or is given enough change to live off of, until his death. But now his work has gathered much more interesting appeal to many – which is good for a person like me because that’s what I want! I want to have his books all to myself, but I can’t have them if they are all gone or publishers don’t publish them. Then of course there was a while back now back in 2010 that I went to order “Trio,” by Robert Pingett and it was out of stock – which is funny because the website told me that it was in stock that morning! Now I have just learned that “Mahu Or The Material,” a book that had been reviewed on my blog early I believe in 2011 or was it late 2010? Early 2011 I believe; is now also out of stock. So there do comes moments of getting things just at the nick of time. Though still it certainly is frustrating to some who wish to have some books. I mean personally I would love to read “The Hive,” by Nobel Laureate of Literature of 1989 Camilo José Cela but that also prove to be out of stock. Then I find a poet that looks interesting these independent blogs and newspapers and websites ranting and raving about his hybrid style of writing poetry by the name of Mathew Hittinger. Needless to say his books of poetry are also out of stock. And do not get me started on how hard it is to find Thomas Ligotti books. If you are lucky and you see him, don’t waste time, grab the damn book!

This is all of course frustrating to me as an author. I want to read these authors. I won’t settle for anything else either! I know that publishers say that: “Translated works just don’t sell.” Which may be true I do not know, because I do not work in the publishing industry. However as a reader who loves books of international quality and books from all over the world, I am not going to settle with some crap ass book. I would personally love to see more translations into English. I’d love to see literature be more open and accepted in the English world. Or maybe its just an English language world thing that thinks everyone should conform to the English language and write and speak in it – not a bad idea personally that way I could read all the books! But still I’d love to see more translations. Personally at the moment I’d love to see some translations by Ulrich Holbein for sure! I’d also would not mind seeing Bruno Schulz’s books go back into print for a bit and just in case any publishers are wondering I also wouldn’t mind seeing Luigi Pirandello’s “Novelle per un anno,” or “Novels for a year,” translated, among other works by authors from all over the world.

The fact is, the west or countries in the west or North America and Western Europe (maybe not all of Western Europe) do not do enough translations and then when people like Horace Engdahl make comments like: “[The United States] too insular and ignorant to challenge Europe as the center of the literary world.” The west (or in this case the United States) gets upset. But maybe its true that we do not participate in the world class literature field. Certainly there are many productions of large quantities of books by Nora Roberts and Nicolas Sparks all over the world but is there any quality to them? Maybe we should stop taking offense to such comments, and start seeing that maybe they are right. Either way I say do more translations! ‘Cause I want them!

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read
*And Remember: Downloading Books Illegally is Thievery and Wrong.*

M. Mary

P.S. If you are interested in the German Book Prize please follow, the following links.

(a) A video depicting The Finalist of The German Book Prize of 2009

(b) A video about Katrin Schmidt a winner of the Germ Book Prize of 2009

(c) A video about The Finalists of 2010 German Book Prize

(d) A video about the 2010 German Book Prize winner Melinda Nadj Abonji

(e) Other sites that may be of interest

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