29 December 2008

More love for Hay

Having attended the Hay Festival in Cartagena for the past two years, I can decidedly say that this literary event has become an established and well-loved tradition for us. Sadly, I'll be back at university before things kick off on 29 January...and I nearly passed out when I saw who's coming this year--two writers I was hoping to see at the two prior fests I've attended: Laura Restrepo and Junot Díaz (!!!). But we've already reserved A.'s tickets so I have the consolation of knowing that at least I'll be able to experience it vicariously. The other huge event will be Fernando Vallejo--I predict a VERY lively evening for that one!

Many congratulations to the organizers of the Hay Festival in Cartagena for another spectacular line-up: Laura Restrepo, Junot Díaz, Fernando Vallejo, Alberto Manguel, Gerald Martin, Alan Pauls, Daniel Samper Pizano, Juan Gossaín, Eduardo Lago, Ricardo Silva, Salman Rushdie, and Martin Amis, among many others. May you continue for centuries to come!

Mario's elusive Blanca

Oh the joys of vacation reading! I picked up a copy of En ausencia de Blanca in Cartagena last January but have only now gotten around to reading it, thanks to A.'s unreserved enthusiasm for it (a link to a PDF of the first chapter of the Spanish original can be found here). Here's a bit from Mr. Orthofer's excellent review of the English translation by Esther Allen:
In her Absence is a nice study in contrasts, and Muñoz Molina presents these two mismatched mates and their backstory very well. The way the story unfolds gives it an air of mystery as well, hinting at parts of what happened all along the way, but only putting all the pieces together as the novel comes to its conclusion. There's something artificial about this story arc, twisted out of shape as it is (this -- in this order -- isn't how one would expect this particular domestic tale to be recounted), but it does allow Muñoz Molina to slowly fill out his portrait of the couple, and it's this he does very well.

In her Absence is an unlikely but still very appealing love story, and a rich characters-study. Muñoz Molina's writing is a pleasure to read, and he's fashioned a small but agreeable little novel here. Recommended.

26 December 2008

Vargas Llosa on Onetti

Alfaguara has posted a few things Mario Vargas Llosa had to say about his recent book on the work of Juan Carlos Onetti, which was published last month:
Básicamente lo que yo hago en este ensayo es investigar la manera en la que Onetti utilizó la ficción como un mundo alternativo. La respuesta a la derrota cotidiana es la imaginación: huir hacia un mundo de fantasía. Es decir, aquella operación de donde nació la literatura, por la que existe la literatura y por eso el título del libro.
("Basically, what I do in this essay is investigate the way in which Onetti used fiction as an alternate world. The answer to everyday defeat is the imagination: to flee to a world of fantasy. That is, the operation from which literature was born, for which literature exists, hence the title of the book.")

The first 22 pages of El viaje a la ficción: El mundo de Juan Carlos Onetti (The Journey to Fiction: The World of Juan Carlos Onetti) are up at Alfaguara's site (as a PDF), as well as the original press release.

14 December 2008

Goings and comings

It has been a crazy week, but I'm finally finishing up my last essay to hand in tomorrow (on how form and content should not be separated in the translation of novels, particularly Latin American novels that share intertextual similarities with the modernists).

This week also brought a great honor. Bud Parr, who is the new editor of the Words Without Borders Blog, had asked if I would contribute a few thoughts on my translation studies now and again, and my first post went up on Wednesday. I travel back to Colombia on Tuesday, but hope that over the break I'll have more to share. Part of my vacation will be dedicated to working on the translation of some poems for my dissertation, so perhaps some of my experiences will find their way there (especially as I live in the region where the poet was born!).

Incidentally, there is also a marvelous article by Alexander Cuadros on the plight of the displaced in Bogotá on the main site. Well worth your time.