Alex Epstein at PEN World Voices, Boston University, the wonderful Schoen Books, and it seems all over the internetThursday, April 29th, 2010
First, for those of you who are local: on Sunday, May 2, at 7 pm, Alex Epstein and Becka McKay will read from Blue Has No South at one of the Valley’s great independent bookstores, Schoen Books. Afterward we’ll have a Q and A about translation, the short-short story in world literature, and whatever comes up. Please join us!
Alex has been at the PEN World Voices Festival in New York all this week. See him Friday at the “Short Stories: Past, Present, and Future” panel with Preston L. Allen, Aleksander Hemon, Yiyun Li, and Martin Solares, moderated by Deborah Treisman.
What virtues and challenges are unique to the short story? How flexible is the form? And why is it that, even now—after Poe, Chekhov, Hemingway, O’Connor, Nabokov, and Munro—the short story often gets less respect, in terms of prizes and critical esteem, than the novel? Join acclaimed practitioners of the form from Bosnia, Israel, China, Mexico, and the United States, for a conversation with The New Yorker fiction editor, Deborah Treisman, about the past, present, and future of the short story.
On Friday evening, he’ll be part of the festival’s famous translation slam, which I wish we could make it to…
On Monday, Alex participated in Guernica magazine’s panel “The Diversity Test: Gender and Literature in Translation,” with Lorraine Adams, Esther Allen, and Norman Rush, moderated by Claire Messud. Watch the panel online here. Many thanks to Guernica for hosting this event and making it available on the web.
PEN also has an interview with Alex up here—
Alta Ifland: You were eight years old when you came to Israel from Russia, so I would like to ask you a question about the relationship between mother tongue and writing. Paul Celan and Czeslaw Milosz… have said that a true poet can only write in his/her mother tongue. What do you think of this? What language do you consider to be your mother-tongue? (Some writers, like George Steiner, claim that they don’t have a (single) mother-tongue).
Alex Epstein: I don’t have a mother tongue—in order to write in Hebrew I had, in a way, to forget my Russian. It was one of the triggers that made an author out of me… I guess that Hebrew “adopted” me—I write in Hebrew, I “live” in Hebrew, I dream in Hebrew, but since it’s not my first language, it’s more an “adoptive” tongue than a mother tongue.
Then there’s “Ten Approximations” from Blue Has No South up online, from PEN America 12: Correspondences.
A rich array of offerings—Alex and Becka are proving hard to keep up with! Western Massachusetts dwellers, we hope to see you Sunday.