Literary roundup: Ukrainian parallels and Hungarian translation

In n+1 Sophie Pinkham parallels Ukraine today and through the eyes of the great but largely unknown Kyiv-raised Russian writer Konstantin Paustovsky, when, for a time certainly, the country was even more messed up than it is now, if you can believe it. There are lot of terrifying, depressing, interesting and surreal facets to the article – from the insanely high incidence of HIV in Eastern Ukraine and irony of the AIDS researchers dying in the plane crash there, to the roles of the Cossacks in Paustovsky’s day and now.

And when you’re done reading the article, read Paustovsky’s memoirs Story of a Life. I was going to cite his account of a childhood friend, a beautiful young girl, who caught the eye of a visiting prince of Siam, married him and ended up the victim of a palace intrigue (they poisoned her by putting ground glass in her food). So, like the King & I, but a tragic Ukrainian version. It turns out though, that she died in Paris in 1962, aged 72, long divorced from the prince, so either Paustovsky was lying or I am (possible, I’m a writer too, after all). Anyway, it’s a great book, even if embellished here and there.

Ottilie Mulzet in the Paris Review

Translator Ottilie Mulzet is interviewed in the Paris Review about bringing László Krasznahorkai’s writing – most recently BTBA-winner Seiobo There Below – into English, as well as about translating Hungarian in general, her pseudonym and both the Krasznahorkai titles she and George Szirtes are working on as well as other translations in the works.

Iván Sándor: Legacy

And, still on the subject of Hungarian translations, Hungarian Literature Online has an excerpt from Iván Sándor’s novel Legacy, newly translated into English by Tim Wilkinson and published by Peter Owen Publishers.

The description: “In 2002 a Jewish man recalls the dying days of the Hungary’s Nazi occupation and how, as a fourteen-year-old, he and his family were to be sent to the death camps before coming under the protection of legendary Swiss Vice-Consul, Carl Lutz.”

Photo – Konstantin Paustovsky’s death mask (I guess. The website was Vietnamese, so I truthfully had no idea what it said other than that this was Paustovsky).

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