Because all translation is impossible, we know that. We have to pretend it isn’t, that it’s possible for an Anglophone who writes in English (an Angloscribe?) to write exactly the same book as a Lusophone writer (erm, Lusoscribe … )—exactly the same—while using none of the same words, and while keeping the entire process of transition invisible. And yet we pretend, and we expect our readers to do the same. I expected you to read that quoted opening line as though you were reading Paulo’s writing, not mine. I expect you to read this novel—about a young law student in Porto Alegre and an indigenous girl he meets by the side of the road, in a world I know nothing of (though there’s a phase set in London, which made it easier for a Londoner like me)—and believe that you are reading Habitante irreal, and not Nowhere People. Daniel Hahn's translation of Paulo Scott's Nowhere People comes out next month. While you wait for the book, read Hahn’s spectacular essay  in our new issue!

Because all translation is impossible, we know that. We have to pretend it isn’t, that it’s possible for an Anglophone who writes in English (an Angloscribe?) to write exactly the same book as a Lusophone writer (erm, Lusoscribe … )—exactly the same—while using none of the same words, and while keeping the entire process of transition invisible. And yet we pretend, and we expect our readers to do the same. I expected you to read that quoted opening line as though you were reading Paulo’s writing, not mine. I expect you to read this novel—about a young law student in Porto Alegre and an indigenous girl he meets by the side of the road, in a world I know nothing of (though there’s a phase set in London, which made it easier for a Londoner like me)—and believe that you are reading Habitante irreal, and not Nowhere People.

Daniel Hahn's translation of Paulo Scott's Nowhere People comes out next month. While you wait for the book, read Hahn’s spectacular essay in our new issue!

These stories, in a sense, are translations of experiences, moving not between languages, but species. Translation wouldn’t be possible were it not for the universal ability of language to express human loneliness, joy, anger. Even if we have forgotten or buried our animal intuition and instinct, even if overthinking has estranged us from them, the seamlessness with which Nettel is able to translate animal traits into human behaviors is testament to something still animal in the marrow of our being. 

J. T. Lichtenstein on translating Guadalupe Nettel's Natural Histories.

These stories, in a sense, are translations of experiences, moving not between languages, but species. Translation wouldn’t be possible were it not for the universal ability of language to express human loneliness, joy, anger. Even if we have forgotten or buried our animal intuition and instinct, even if overthinking has estranged us from them, the seamlessness with which Nettel is able to translate animal traits into human behaviors is testament to something still animal in the marrow of our being.

J. T. Lichtenstein on translating Guadalupe Nettel's Natural Histories.

“Tagore’s achievement as a songwriter is the achievement of a bricoleur: somebody who works with a variety of materials and reworks it in any way that his artistic impulse tells him to. So you have Tagore reworking Irish drinking songs, Scottish love songs, compositional structures from the Dhrupad in Indian classical music, and songs sung by wandering Baul minstrels in Bengal. All of this—all of these sources, tunes and melodies and structures of composition are being collected by the family at the time. And he’s putting them all in unexpected contexts.”
Amit Chaudhuri offers an insight into the art and life of Rabindranath Tagore, India’s most famous modern writer and one of the country’s greatest cultural icons.
Interviewed by Prithvi Varatharajan for our summer issue. High-res

Tagore’s achievement as a songwriter is the achievement of a bricoleur: somebody who works with a variety of materials and reworks it in any way that his artistic impulse tells him to. So you have Tagore reworking Irish drinking songs, Scottish love songs, compositional structures from the Dhrupad in Indian classical music, and songs sung by wandering Baul minstrels in Bengal. All of this—all of these sources, tunes and melodies and structures of composition are being collected by the family at the time. And he’s putting them all in unexpected contexts.”

Amit Chaudhuri offers an insight into the art and life of Rabindranath Tagore, India’s most famous modern writer and one of the country’s greatest cultural icons.

Interviewed by Prithvi Varatharajan for our summer issue.

Along the word Dalí
lies a mysterious ruined seashore.
Dalí—the chilling sound of the waves.

*

One night
a human gift
was burning like a flower. 

*

A map smeared with blood
spreads its blue.
The wings of waterbirds
hide the ocean.

—”Salvador Dalí”, “Max Ernst”, “Pablo Picasso" by Shuzo Takiguchi

Read these surreal portraits of artists in verse, translated from the Japanese by Yuki Tanaka & Mary Jo Bang from our latest issue.

Some things I have to say aren’t getting said
in this snowy, blond, blue-eyed, gum-chewing English:
dawn’s early light sifting through persianas closed
that night before by dark-skinned girls whose words
evoke cama, aposento, sueños in nombres
from that first word I can’t translate from Spanish.

from “Bilingual Sestina” by Julia Alvarez

Some things I have to say aren’t getting said

in this snowy, blond, blue-eyed, gum-chewing English:

dawn’s early light sifting through persianas closed

that night before by dark-skinned girls whose words

evoke cama, aposento, sueños in nombres

from that first word I can’t translate from Spanish.

from “Bilingual Sestina” by Julia Alvarez

Valentine Goby

I bite my tongue. Hanoi is cautious, well mannered. Every foreigner remains a foreigner, and we are no exception. I wait; asking Chi Dung the question right now would be too brusque. I wait for the right moment. Despite my now-fluent Vietnamese, I force myself into silence.
from Hanoi, Silences, translated from the French by Christine Buckley