Posts Tagged ‘the Quarterly Conversation’

New review of Touch in the Quarterly Conversation

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

If you haven’t already, head over to Quarterly Conversation to enjoy the new issue (and I say that not only because there are several pieces on books we’ve edited). As always, it’s a wide-ranging, thoughtful, and thought-provoking offering. But this post is to note that it includes an excellent new review of Touch:

Adania Shibli’s American debut is a visually striking composition of interconnected prose poem-like vignettes that follow a young girl living on the West Bank of Palestine. The novella’s short numbered sections, which comprise the larger chapters of the book (“colors,” “silence,” “movement,” “language,” and “the wall”), house intimate scenes imprinted with the events that lay just outside the girl’s immediate perspective—from the death of her brother to the violent political context. These surrounding events are so delicately incorporated into the girl’s perceptual realm that scenes often feel as if they were ekphrastically derived from a photograph or painting. Shibli achieves this cohesion through the book’s polished and fluid prose; sensory details are foregrounded over the trajectory of narrative sense-making, and the circumstantial themes of the text (family life, love, death, political strife) unfold the way a narrative might enter into one’s experience of a painting—their impacts permeate throughout the text, but rarely are they explicitly depicted or referenced.

Read the rest here.

On Karapanou

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

This week brings two excellent online features on Margarita Karapanou and the newly released The Sleepwalker. First, a wonderful, in-depth review in the new issue of Words Without Borders:

“Originally published in 1985 after her harrowing fictional debut Kassandra and the Wolf, Karapanou’s second novel The Sleepwalker confirmed her reputation as one of Greece’s most talented postmodern writers and one of her most imaginative chroniclers of human alienation. Part dystopia part satire, this surreal tale of lost souls, and a dethroned deity, is not so much a murder mystery as it is a murderer’s mystery: the reader knows who is killing the islanders, but is left to wonder about the killer’s motives and real identity.”

Read the rest here.

And just up at the Quarterly Conversation: an online roundtable discussing Karapanou and her work. Writers, translators, and scholars Nick Germanacos, Karen Emmerich, Amanda Michalopoulou, Karen Van Dyck, and Angela Dimitrakaki talk about Karapanou’s ouevre in Greek and in English translation, her critical reception and place in Greek literature, her biography, and more, in a fascinating, wide-ranging, profoundly thought-provoking conversation. Some excerpts:

Amanda Michalopoulou: There are writers who make you want to go back into writing. Karapanou makes you want to go back into living your life. She also belongs to this rare community of writers who work beyond influence; they are on their own. When I was in my twenties I tried to imitate my favorite writers, but with Karapanou it never worked. Her voice was so unique and what I wished for was just to listen to her voice. Her atmosphere influenced some of my stories but at that young age I always felt that I failed to create an atmosphere as extraordinary and magical as hers. As she doesn’t belong to a group of writers, her influence within Greek literature is difficult to be measured. I am afraid Greek literature looks always for ethnic characteristics, for more “Greekness” and Karapanou goes beyond Greekness. She is not at all interested in that stuff. Her Hydra is primarily a psychological landscape.
Karen Van Dyck: I first understood the depth of Karapanou’s knowledge of English when I spent a week in Hydra with both her and her mother going over my translation of her mother’s novel The Straw Hats (which eventually came out under the English title Three Summers in 1995). Karapanou by this point was suffering much more obviously from the manic depression that had plagued her all her life. The drugs she was taking made her bloated and listless. I remember she would lie on the couch reading murder mysteries in the breezy open room overlooking the port while Liberaki and I argued over the meaning of words. But what repeatedly saved my translation were not so much these discussions, but the trenchant one-liners that Karapanou would interject every once and awhile with just the right American translation for the word we were hunting for. I emphasize American because if Karapanou wrote in English she would be an American writer not an English writer. Her short staccato sentences and the visual fireworks they set off are post Hemingway, pre Kurt Cobain.

Read in full here

Despite My Bunkered Heart

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

ToquevilleHilary’s just reviewed two extremely different books—Khaled Mattawa‘s poetry collection Tocqueville and O Fallen Angel, by Kate Zambreno, up on the Kenyon Review and the Quarterly Conversation, respectively.


And now a PS from Hilary: Also up at the Quarterly Conversation, a review by former Clockroot intern A’Dora Phillips, of Abdelfattah Kilito’s The Clash of Images. Check out all of the great Issue 22 of TQC.

Landscape with Dog at the Quarterly Conversation

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

A wonderful review of Landscape with Dog and Other Stories by George Fragopoulos at the Quarterly Conversation.

I think this is the best part of being a publisher: reading these responses, magically getting to see works one had thought one knew inside out anew.

Reading Ersi Sotiropoulos’s collection of short stories, Landscape With Dog, brings to mind the Surrealist masterpiece by Giorgio de Chirico, “Melancholy and Mystery of a Street.” Much like Chirico’s painting, most of Sotiropoulos’s stories are textual cul-de-sacs, seemingly expansive but surprisingly claustrophobic, tinged with dark corners, a series of streets that lead nowhere, leaving readers to puzzle over wonderfully unrealized moments and conclusions. There are no easily recognizable beginnings, middles, or ends in these stories.

Read in full here.

Michalopoulou on Karapanou

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Among the many riches in Issue 16 of the Quarterly Conversation is a wonderful interview with Greek writer Amanda Michalopoulou, whose I’d Like came out this fall from Dalkey Archive, in translation by Karen Emmerich. (I’ve not yet read I’d Like, unfortunately, but it’s so high on my list, and this interview makes me even more anxious to start—)

The interview, conducted by George Fragopoulos (GF, below) and attended also by Karen (KE), reflects on non-linearity in fiction; on the necessity of leaving one’s “home” to write (a feeling that is foreign to me, and fascinating, and which I’ve heard our own Ersi Sotiropoulos reflect on as well: “I have to leave Greece to be there,” she once said at a reading); on emotional vs. intellectual approaches to projects; and much else (I love the line “Sometimes the book asks for certain things that you have to offer”).  I wanted to note in particular Michalopoulou’s discussion of the influence of Margarita Karapanou:

GF: But I’d Like also has a grotesque or violent side to it, and they made a lot more sense to me when you mentioned Karapanou in that interview with Monica, and how she was a precursor for you. Can you speak a little about Karapanou’s influence on your work, especially because a lot of English readers know very little about her?

KE: But they will! Kassandra and the Wolf is being republished, along with two earlier novels in fall 2009 and spring 2010.

AM: Well, what can I say about Karapanou? She’s a major influence although I know I can’t write like her. And this is the best influence because I knew I could never imitate her. It was so intense and so real, and never imitating anything else. Her work was so original. And it was such an original voice and reading her diaries, which just came out, and reading her entries from thirteen years old, you could already see her voice. You could listen to this voice and see it was already there. What I admire in her is her originality. But of course, it was a very sad life story, and when I say to myself that you are not as original as some other writers you admire it all goes along with a whole other private history. But I feel that nobody has talked about childhood the way she did, really, in Kassandra. If she wasn’t Greek, but was American or German, I feel everybody would know her. Everybody could recognize themselves in her writings about childhood. And she was not at all your typical Greek author; she read widely in American and French literature and was always an outsider in a sense.

KE: And if you think of many Greek writers, it is incredibly common to be moving between languages, to be moving between places, so she is typically Greek in the sense that she is coming form the “outside” or writing as she does in The Sleepwalker. She is writing about the island of Hydra in The Sleepwalker, magnified a thousand-fold and turned into this surreal, weird place by combining foreign and Greek elements and composing characters who are shadow puppets in a way. And this is what stuck me about I’d Like. Not in terms of style or structure but in terms of characters it is your most Greek book in that it takes place only in Greek and there is nobody in it that is not Greek.

And then, just to point out again the fact of the riches of other literatures we must trust others to discover, to bring back for us, our debt always to translators for everything: a discussion of one of Michalopoulou’s characters reading Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (and Stephen Mitchell’s translations of Rilke into English)—


A reading by Karen Emmerich

Monday, May 18th, 2009

A brief note: The wonderful Karen Emmerich read at the Center for the Art of Translation this past week—catch a lovely summary of her reading here, at the Quarterly Conversation.


And to top it off: Three Percent has a note about/summary of Scott Esposito’s summary. Which I think is officially “buzz.” We’re sorry to have missed seeing Karen in person—