The PEN World Voices festival is underway in New York, running from April 29 to May 5. There are a lot of great events, including Mikhail Shishkin speaking on a panel about book reviewers, a conversation with Polish author of Russians in Warsaw Agata Tuszyńska, a Literary Safari including Hungarian Noémi Szécsi and Czech Michal Ajvaz, who also are taking part in a cool-sounding panel on May 4 titled Invisible Cities, Visible Cities.
Then there are two giants of Central European writing in Claudio Magris and Norman Manea on a panel dealing with multilinguality as well as in conversation with one another on May 2. Not to scare anyone, but these two were scheduled to hold a NYC conversation last fall but were prevented by higher forces in the form of Hurricane Sandy. If this year’s event is cancelled as well because of a tornado or an unexpected snowstorm or an earthquake then I suggest not rescheduling but having them write out what they were going to say and just publishing the conversation as an essay.
The PEN World Voices program can be seen here.
Translators as non-nefarious liars
In connection with the PEN festival participant Susan Bernofsky gave a fascinating interview primarily on translating Kafka and the type of choices and compromises that are necessarily a part of the translation process. My favorite part is when she talks about the pressure involved in translating writers unlikely to receive another translation anytime soon and, as the translator of Robert Walser into English, thanks her interviewers for defining a new anxiety in her life: “Falsifying Walser for the Ages.” Well, most people don’t do anything for the ages, right?
And speaking of translation – Amanda DeMarco of Berlin-based Readux just announced the founding of a publishing house to bring out “short works of (mostly) translated literature.” Readux Books will publish German as well as Swedish books in its first year, with each book being accompanied by a piece by a well-known English-language writer.