I was hired in 2009 to teach translation in Florida Atlantic University’s MFA program—something that had never been offered in the MFA curriculum. To encourage as many students as possible to register for the translation workshop, I decided that I would not require that they know a second language. Working from the premise that proficiency and flexibility in English were the most important requirements for students in this particular workshop—and that together we would find resources to assist their understanding the various source languages—the translation workshop has, over the last three years, produced some remarkable projects. These include:
- A translation/stage adaptation of The Tale of Genji set in a postapocalyptic Japan
- A hybrid form that I am still searching for a way to name that consists of a translation of a Strindberg short story woven together with a lyric essay about the translator’s process
- Translations of Hawaiian petroglyphs
- A plan for a scratch-and-sniff, pop-up book translation of the Song of Songs
- A graphic version of Don Quixote
- An adaptation of a feminist Senegalese novel as a series of blog entries written by an African-American woman from Alabama
Posts Tagged ‘Becka Mara McKay’
Years ago at BEA we were told that Twitter would save independent publishing. Well, not that exactly, but close enough—everywhere we turned the word was “Twitter.” And we’ve been on Twitter ever since, to some degree, although often not quite sure what to make of it: optimistic but bemused. Today, however, I should officially note that any last doubts have been dispelled. Not only has Alex Epstein recently been conducting great new experiments in how Facebook and Twitter can become sites for literature, but today we had another encounter that wouldn’t have been possible, really, before these sorts of venues: a lovely note from Sherman Alexie (!), praising Alex Epstein: “Today, I fell in love with his very short stories.” A very nice glow with which to start the week.
My new book, For My Next Illusion I Will Use Wings, will be published in print in Hebrew in a couple of months. But at the beginning of January 2012 I decided to try something new, and published a free digital copy of it on… Facebook.
The idea of publishing an entire new collection of very short stories on Facebook was, in part, an experiment to see how literature can become more social.
Alex Epstein writes this morning to say that his newest stories are all available digitally, for free, on Facebook (!). You can read them on any computer, iPad, smartphone, what have you—you don’t even have to be on Facebook. (Of course, you have to be able to read Hebrew. So I guess I’m really just taking his word for it that these are what he says they are…) Behold:
Three Percent has just posted a very nice review of Lunar Savings Time: “Like Borges, Epstein reinvents the truth, the real, and even history, by fictionalizing them (which is not to say that his stories don’t include many real facts).” And in the both the intro and the review, note the lovely, and true, praise for Becka Mara McKay, “one of the friendliest and funniest and most talented of all contemporary translators.” Indeed!
Becka has also just participated in Arabic Literature in English‘s excellent series of “rules for translators,” contributing “Ten Rules for Making New Translators” that focus on how to teach translation. Check out the whole series, which has been a treat to read.
But in the meantime there’s been lots of news! A quick recap: Sunetra Gupta’s So Good in Black has been reviewed in Publishers Weekly, the Washington Times (“Sunetra Gupta writes of ambiguities brilliantly”), and most recently and at length in the Common (Amherst College’s new literary magazine, and so an exciting new addition to our local scene).
Alex Epstein’s newest, Lunar Savings Time, translated by Becka Mara McKay, has also been lauded by Publishers Weekly (“Consistently provocative”… “Best read first in gulps, and then in savory sips”), and by Bill Marx over at Arts Fuse, as well as here at the Complete Review.
Also have a look at this interview I had a lot of fun doing with Alex at the Kenyon Review.
Since we’ve been a little slow here, I’d suggest you might like to “like” us on Facebook, which will keep you updated with all things Clockroot when we’re slow on the blog.
These often hysterically funny short fictions – occasionally teetering on the brink of becoming prose poetry and presented in a delightful, slightly odd-sized book - are, shockingly, the first time this major Argentinian poet, playwright, essayist and director has been translated into English, by Emily Toder. As with Georges-Olivier Chateaureynaud’s A Life On Paper, this makes me furious. Why has it taken so long? But enough of fury, let us move on to enjoyment with a tinge of philosophical enquiry, which is really what Dr. Pi himself is after.
… I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book, which entertains but does more than that. These stories are both ordered and chaotic, dream-like and yet truthful. Through humour, sheer oddness and philosophical musings, Bayley conveys back to us something of our world, in which nothing ends neatly, no-one can really save the day, and when it comes down to it, everything should be put on hold in order to spend time with a “young brunette with bare, powerful legs, shorts, and a striped T-shirt” on a tandem bike.
Read in full here.
And on Blue Has No South: “a collection that tests out our notions of story, stretches them, and leaves us wanting to dip back into the collection again and again”—read the full review here. There’s also a wonderful interview with Alex Epstein:
TSR: Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing [these stories]?AE: At the beginning no, I just wanted to see if I could find a different form for my art, much more focused and dense. To tell a story with few words as possible, a story that sometimes catches just one emotional movement between two people, and sometimes tries to grasp the whole world. After a while I started to think about the “absence of words” as of a material, and was able to aim for a collection of such micro fiction. There is still something deep that draws me toward this.
To say that fiction like Epstein’s requires a new way of reading, and it does, is not to say that it’s difficult or unwelcoming. The work leads you along, gradually recalibrating your accustomed response time. The brevity has the effect of concentrating the attention: you grow more alert, eased into the ultra-receptive mindset engendered by a good haiku or zen koan. Before you know it, the longer stories – those of a full page and more – come to feel almost like novels. You become hyper-aware of how much can be fit into a small space – and by extension, how much of conventional fiction is, by strictest definition, unnecessary.
It can’t be said of many writers that they’d be equally at home among contemporary McSweeney’s-style pranksters and the august lineage of Kafka, Borges and Bruno Schulz, but Alex Epstein is just such a find.
Read in full here.
On the Logic of Legends
There was a legend about a man in an electric wheelchair, who traveled every morning on the shoulder of the highway, and always stopped at the same roadside restaurant. There was, for example, a legend about a young woman named Clytie, who fell in love with the god of the sun. While he was charging the wheelchair’s battery, he told his regular waitress a story from Greek mythology. But the god did not take heed of her love and she turned into a sunflower. After the battery was charged, he would head home. That way she could always watch him on his journey through the sky.
The latest issue of the Kenyon Review Online features seven stories from Alex Epstein’s new collection, Lunar Savings Time, which we’ll be publishing this spring, also in Becka McKay’s superb translation. Fans of Blue Has No South, take note. And everyone else—well, just read the stories:
On the Metamorphosis
Once upon a time there was a tree who, of all the trees in the forest, fell in love all the way to his roots with a woman who passed through the forest. The metamorphosis was his only escape: he had to turn into a man and go out into the world to find her. (He was stabbed during a fight in a port city in the east. When he started to bleed he could no longer feel his legs. He didn’t die. He boarded a ship that was lost in the Straits of Gibraltar. When he drowned he found a remedy in the intoxication of the depths. He didn’t die. In one of the versions of this legend, which ends after many years of wandering and hardship, the tree returns to the forest of his birth, where he hangs himself.) He could not forget her, even when the wind blew.
Read the rest here.