Gogol, refuge and translations: new magazines

“I like the bigness and darkness of 19th-century Russian literature. (I brought Crime and Punishment with me on my honeymoon.)” – Roddy Doyle

[No word on what his wife brought].

Roddy Doyle, of The Commitments fame, has a brilliant article in The Irish Times on his translation of Gogol’s The Government Inspector currently playing in Dublin. He writes about the different translations of the play and his desire to write about contemporary Ireland. And in case you haven’t heard, the country is experiencing a few difficulties and Doyle found the increasing newspeak painting over the current disaster gave him a perfect counterpart for the language of Gogol. “I wasn’t just writing the play: I was living in it.”

He finds further confirmation of his approach in a sentence in Nabokov’s book on Gogol (which if you have never read you are committing a sin). “None but an Irishman should ever try tackling Gogol,” Nabokov wrote, to Doyle’s sheer delight.

I first heard about the Cities of Refuge program after reading Senselessness by Horacio Castellanos Moya, who came to live in the program’s home base of Pittsburgh from his native El Salvador. In the current issue of Gulf Coast there is an essay by Aviya Kushner which begins with her receiving a note from a Bosnian woman who lived in her building in Chicago (through her Bosnian doorman) asking her to read a translation of a novel called Black Soul. She goes on to discuss the differences between American and European efforts to help writers in exile. A fairly long extract is available online here.

The Winter 2011 of Berlin-based No Man’s Land #6 is online with fiction by Eva Menasse, Zehra Çirak, Michael Lentz, Keto von Waberer and others, as well as poetry and special

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