For the second year in a row, InTranslation is partnering with the New Literature from Europe Festival to present samples of translated work by the festival’s featured authors.
On a beautiful day in May, Lemming is strolling the streets of Vienna with his heavily pregnant partner Klara. Suddenly her contractions begin, and with no time to get to the hospital, they must accept the help of a stranger, Angela, to deliver the baby. Soon, Angela becomes Klara’s best friend and tiny Ben’s babysitter. Then, on Christmas Eve, Lemming finds Angela dead.
McCash, though no longer a cop, is still one-eyed and consumed by an anger as old as his first Clash concert, in Belfast, before Bobby Sands’s hunger strikes and the victims of Bloody Sunday… No more wife, no future, illusions lost… An ophthalmologist informs him that if he persists in taking care of everything that surrounds him by destruction, he will quickly and permanently be blind. A fine reason to end it all with a brilliant bullet to his head! The spark, however, will come from somewhere else. A letter reveals to him that he’s the father of Alice. The mother is dead and it’s now up to him to look after the little girl… McCash has scarcely arrived in his daughter’s village when he finds another little girl drowned. Alice comes to see him. She’s the bothersome witness. As the dead pile up, McCash rediscovers fear and hope intermingled. He who wanted to die crashes headlong into the need to weigh up the value of a life. That of his child…
Finnish detective Kimmo Joentaa’s new case involves the murder of a woman who is almost dead already. Found in a coma by the side of a road, she is killed while lying unconscious in a hospital bed. Who is she, and is her death connected to several others in towns nearby?
Her story is connected somehow to a gang rape witnessed 25 years before by a boy who recorded its effect on him in his diary at the time. Now, a quarter of a century later, the guilty parties are being picked off one by one….
Joentaa, involved with a prostitute who refuses to tell him her real name, finds his attention diverted from the investigation when she disappears. This fourth Kimmo Joentaa case by German author Jan Costin Wagner follows the detective down two paths as he searches for a killer and for the mysterious woman he’s involved with.
Sandomierz is a picturesque town full of churches and museums. Early one morning in spring, a woman’s naked body is found outside a former synagogue. Someone has slashed her throat open–and it looks as if it was done with the enormous razor found lying nearby. Quite by chance, Public Prosecutor Teodor Szacki just happens to be on the scene. How come? Six months earlier he broke up a gang of sex traffickers who had a drop-off point in this town. On a wave of short-lived fame, Szacki decided to move there permanently from Warsaw. But a few months after separating from his wife and daughter, and leaving the big city behind, he knows he has made a mistake. The cadaver outside the synagogue is a chance to put an end to his small-town ennui. Szacki conducts the investigation with the help of an aging policeman and a reluctant lady prosecutor. Gradually he discovers the subtle ins and outs of local society and history. In his efforts to solve the mystery he investigates a love triangle, an ancient Jewish ritual, and some Nazi symbols. In this latest detective novel from Zygmunt Miłoszewski, the author takes us to the Polish equivalent of Twin Peaks, where the scenery is colored by present-day emotions and desires, as well as events from the seemingly distant past.
Kill me! is a captivating story about the perverse power of storytelling and the way fiction can become more “real” than reality. The novel tells of the relationship between two women whose friendship begins well–an older woman makes an offer to host a younger one in her apartment. Their shared life ends three years later with a crime. What seems to be the beginning of a love story–the encounter between Vali and Ramona–imperceptibly transforms into a terrifying policier: the main character proves to be Veronica Manea, the sixty-year-old woman who behaves like a vampire and relives the passion of her youth. The web that Veronica Manea weaves around the younger Ramona surrounds both of them. Old ghostly and disquieting love interests are projected against the background of exotic sites. Ramona enters Veronica Manea’s dangerous game, and the only way out is a crime; which is, of course, no way out.
Diana Blanco is the best “bait” on the Madrid police force, a woman trained to attract the most dangerous psycho-killers. But she is sick of her job and tenders her resignation. She wants to live a normal life, after spending months unsuccessfully trying to attract the attention of the “Spectator,” a serial killer who has tortured, mutilated, and murdered more than fifteen women. But when the Spectator kidnaps Diana’s sister, she is forced to race against the clock to save her. She doesn’t know where to start, and she doesn’t know that hidden behind this murderer is a terrifying plot that directly affects her closest friends and family. Diana can’t trust anyone–not her mentor, her boyfriend, her best friend, not even her colleagues on the force–if she wants to save her sister and put a stop to the series of monstrous crimes that have Madrid in an uproar.
In 2007, Olvido García Valdés won Spain’s Premio Nacional for her poetry collection Y todos estábamos vivos. The book explores life from the viewpoint of death, or the dead, and the intensity of such a perspective. A primary technique for achieving this intensification is what García Valdés calls her supresión de elipsis. This suppression of ellipsis, or intentional exclusion of an element–often grammatical–works in these poems to prevents us from discerning basic narrative elements. Her poetry gains much of its power from omission. We rarely know anything about the viewpoint character of a poem: gender, age, physical appearance seem unavailable. The entire book begins in the middle of a sentence with no implied subject beyond a verb in the third person singular. Often a poem ends with no punctuation. The author also uses white space as the language of the unsaid.
Fatima Yousef al-Ali is known for her stories about Kuwaiti women. She praises her father’s encouragement for her career and says that while she is happily married, few of her characters are. She portrays the lives of women from different strata of Kuwait society, whether the school assistant in “Behind a Locked Window,” the schoolgirl in “Nothing Shameful,” or the wealthy sophisticate in “A Woman’s Pains Never End.”
Being a pioneering Kuwaiti woman author has meant a degree of marginalization, evidenced by a need to improvise publishing arrangements. One benefit of writing beneath the radar of public scrutiny, though, has been her ability to describe and discuss human sexuality in a candid fashion.
Fatima Yousef al-Ali’s short stories open a window on a world that seems a bit mysterious to some Americans. The heroine’s spouse in “Vote for Me!” is not overtly abusive but will certainly not be voting for her. The administrator of public grants detects so many flaws in the applicants that he decides to award all of them to himself. Lismira, in her story, is stranded in a gloomy city far from Kuwait and from her lover and her spouse. The heroine in “A Woman’s Pains Never End” is as much a predator as the self-righteous religious admirer who climbs in bed with her in a hotel room in Asia and scratches her with his beard. It is hard to strike the right balance in considering the status of women in Kuwait. Fatima Yousef al-Ali’s depictions of women from many walks of life help the reader better understand the challenges facing them, and thus helps us learn more about ourselves, too.
We salute all of the NEA’s FY 2012 awardees, and extend especially warm congratulations to those whose work has been featured in The Brooklyn Rail and InTranslation:
The Brooklyn Rail welcomes you to our web-exclusive section InTranslation, where we feature unpublished translations of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and dramatic writing. Published since April 2007, InTranslation is a venue for outstanding work in translation and a resource for translators, authors, editors, and publishers seeking to collaborate.
We seek exceptional unpublished English translations from all languages.
Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry: Manuscripts of no longer than 20 pages (double-spaced).
Plays: Manuscripts of no longer than 30 pages (in left-justified format).