Literary roundup: Found in translation and a form of robbery

Rumänien, Kolonne von Soldaten in einer Stadt

Joanna Trzeciak has won this year’s Found in Translation award for her rendition of Sobbing Superpower by Polish poet Tadeusz Różewicz. The annual award is presented by The Polish Book Institute in Krakow, W.A.B. Publishers, the Polish Cultural Institute in London and the Polish Cultural Institute New York for the best English translation of a work of Polish literature.

The award was first granted in 2008 to Bill Johnston for a translation of Różewicz’s poetry. Johnston has won a couple prizes this year for his translation of Wiesław Myśliwski’s Stone Upon Stone.

Writers and ancestors

At the Los Angeles Review of Books Paul Mandelbaum goes to Romania to see where his mother is from and talk to Romanian writers and literary figures such as Norman Manea, translator Jean Harris, a literary agent and her sole Romanian writer Filip Florian to better understand the world his family came from.

Reading and seeing

At Jacket Mechanical book jacket designer Peter Mendelsund muses on the visual memory of readers. Mendelsund cuts right through some of the obvious myths and questions the degree to which people truly picture fictional characters in any kind of detail. (I don’t picture fictional characters at all. I see a more or less suggestive blur. Unfortunately, I think I do this with real people too, so if I’ve met you in person and pass you on the street without saying anything now you know why.)

Mendelsund agrees, going on to say:

“Good books incite us towards imagining- towards filling in an author’s suggestions. Without this co-creative act; without personalization, what you are left with is:

Here is your Anna—Happy?

This—the above— is a form of robbery.”

Photo – soldiers marching through Bucharest, 1941 by Horst Grund/Budesarchiv

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