Yordan Yovkov’s short stories blend polished descriptions of people and places with the modest speech of Bulgarian peasants. “Seraphim’s Overcoat,” like many Yovkov works, depicts senseless suffering met with benevolence. Much like a biblical parable, the tragedy’s cause is unimportant, but the human response is. For Yovkov, loving compassion is the most remarkable human trait, and it is not embodied in urban life or among the rich but only in the sophisticated simplicity of ordinary moments and people. Very little occurs in “Seraphim’s Overcoat” other than an unassuming man’s act of extraordinary empathy. Thus when translating Yovkov, one must carefully fluctuate between creating common speech and uncommon descriptions to make the ordinary, momentous.
– David M. Jones
InTranslation is pleased to be collaborating for the fifth time with the New Literature from Europe (NLE) Festival, which took place November 6-9 in New York. Our November issues in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 were likewise dedicated to the festival and its participating authors.
Our current issue features translations of fiction and nonfiction prose by this year’s authors from Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and Romania.
For more information about the festival, its events, and its partners, visit: http://newlitfromeurope.org.
Translating The Black Box was challenging, but enjoyable. The novel is set in two worlds–in the enmeshed corporate intrigue of New York and the distant parochiality of post-communist Bulgaria. The two main protagonists, brothers, trade places. The one coming from Bulgaria accidentally stays in New York and dives into the city’s underground of crooks and emigrants. The other, a successful Wall Street broker, goes back to his native country on a business trip, only to find himself locked in the surreal world of political intrigue Balkan style, where he meets his former boss Kurtz, who has turned himself into the heart of post-communist darkness.
The language comes from diverse sectors, and thus involves a number of different jargons. The challenge in translating these came from author’s careful use of language to support and to individualize his characters. Conveying the same nuances and connotations in English required painstaking research. The other challenge was to make macabre Balkan humor understandable for the contemporary English readership. The style changes, too: the book toggles between the two brothers’ points of view, allowing both worlds to be satirized. The Black Box is truly contemporary literature, where the honesty of brutal reality fades into the surreal and the mixture of both is twisted and funny.
– Daniella and Charles Gill de Mayol de Lupe
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).