22 May 2009

More on Benedetti

In compiling the post on the passing of Mario Benedetti (which went up yesterday at the Words Without Borders Blog), it was good to see so many pre-existing clips featuring him on YouTube. The first one is by his publisher and features him reading "No te salves", "Táctica y estrategia", and "Hagamos un trato", plus brief quotes and cover shots of 17 of his books. The second is a clip from a television interview:

18 May 2009

Another loss, but an amazing life

Álvaro Mutis writes of the death of Mario Benedetti:
El escritor y poeta colombiano, Álvaro Mutis, dijo que con la muerte de Mario Benedetti, "Latinoamérica pierde a un escritor continental, un escritor cuya obra refleja el sentir de todos los países de la región".

"En el estado actual de América Latina perder a un escritor como Mario Benedetti es una de las mayores pérdidas", explicó Mutis a Efe.

Después de una reciente hospitalización desde el 24 de abril al 6 de mayo, el escritor Uruguayo Mario Benedetti falleció en su domicilio en Montevideo a los 88 años.

Mutis, uno de los más destacados literatos latinoamericanos, indicó que Benedetti era el representante del ideal de escritor latinoamericano que sintetizaba el sentir de todos los pueblos.
I'm sure many more tributes will be expressed in the coming days.

UPDATE 19 May: Benedetti, la alegría de un triste:
Benedetti consiguió permear con sus escritos zonas generalmente indiferentes a la poesía mediante un arduo trabajo de sencillez en los versos y de empleo de palabras del común. "Ha ignorado deliberadamente la supuesta existencia de palabras 'poéticas' y de otras que no lo son", explica el premio Nobel José Saramago. Intérpretes tan célebres como Joan Manuel Serrat y Daniel Viglietti musicalizaron sus poemas. "Sus versos eran contagiosos", según Serrat.

Muchos consideran por eso que, después de Pablo Neruda, es quizás el poeta latinoamericano más conocido de las últimas décadas.
Benedetti, más o menos la muerte:
En su literatura no sólo está Montevideo sino América Latina, con todos sus dolores y claroscuros.

Para un poeta debe ser una suerte de consagración cuando sus creaciones van de boca en boca, cuando las recita un estudiante, cuando las pronuncia un ama de casa. Cuando se vuelve patrimonio de todos. Algunos, muy sofisticados, dirán que esa situación es carencia de hondura. Otros, con menos pretensiones, afirmarán que es como ver caer la lluvia, o como ganar el pan con el poder de los sueños. Y de la luz.
José Saramago: Poetas y poesía:
el mundo no podría soportar muchos días de esta intensidad emocional, pero tampoco, sin la poesía que hoy se expresa, seríamos enteramente humanos. Y esto, en pocas líneas, es lo que está sucediendo: murió Mario Benedetti en Montevideo y el planeta se hizo pequeño para albergar la emoción de las personas. De súbito los libros se abrieron y comenzaron a expandirse en versos, versos de despedida, versos de militancia, versos de amor, las constantes de la vida de Benedetti, junto a su patria, sus amigos, el fútbol y algunos boliches de trago largo y noches todavía más largas.

15 May 2009

Evelio Rosero and Anne McLean

win the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize!:
When Ingrid Betancourt was freed last summer after six years held hostage by Colombian guerrillas, Evelio Rosero's thoughts were with the kidnap victims still in captivity. Most are ordinary citizens, seized by guerrillas, paramilitaries or criminal thugs for ransom, not the "jewels in the crown", as the French-Colombian politician and her three American companions were known. "We are all happy," Rosero told me in the Colombian capital, Bogotá, "But she's one among many, and we must not forget all the rest."

Rosero's concern for civilians caught up in more than four decades of fratricidal conflict spurred his winning book, The Armies. He has written short stories and children's books. This is his seventh novel, published in Spanish in 2006 ­ and his first to be translated into English. In 2006, he won Colombia's National Literature Prize, awarded by the culture ministry.

10 May 2009

Vonnegut understood more than he thought

Paul Verhaeghen on why translators are from Tralfamadore:
In walks the translator. Doesn’t he look a bit like a plumber’s friend, with his suction cup neatly planted on the ground, so eager to teach the writing Earthling many wonderful things about time? Linear or non-linear, it doesn’t matter, because the text is there and the translator ploughs through it at will, and from every angle. The translator is an honest-to-god liar, pretending to believe in a truth that is entirely somebody else’s – yours -- cross-wiring his dreams with the wind that whipped some other fellah’s plains -- yours. The irksome paradox is that in his command of the fourth dimension, the translator becomes shallower, not deeper. He sobs over the death of every character, but not inconsolably so – it’s only a book, and the character lives on, forever on the page. True, the translator is powerless to prevent your mistakes, but he is gracious and merciful towards them. So it goes, he says, and he either shrugs his shoulders or tries to smooth it out. Did you notice that he is stylishly two weeks overdue for a haircut, while your hair gets brutally trimmed every six months by your lover, in your sleep, with very blunt scissors? Did you notice he’s wearing a full set of clothes while he translates, and never skips a meal? He is extraordinarily precise, your translator, he wants to render each and every one of your puns, he wants to bring each of your clever nuances to light – the best of translators are so good, you can’t believe it’s not writing.
(via Three Percent)

Extremes are sometimes necessary

And another name for the TBR list--Kiko Amat:
Regarding Latin America, Amat said the region awakens in him “an enormous fascination; it’s a world that’s so strange. There’s a really beautiful enthusiasm that clearly is non-European.”

“I love how the concept of the artist here is lived from the standpoint of celebrating that privilege, while in Europe there’s a perspective that’s much more comfortable, as if (the artist) were someone who had always been born for that,” he said.

He also criticized contemporary Spanish culture, which he said is “boring and serious,” adding that “even when they try to approach the popular ambit, they do so in a way that’s so pompous, so academic and so pretentious.”

“I don’t have to apologize to the cultural elites because I like ‘Spiderman.’ But not apologizing for that makes me sound strange within the literary world. (But) I have no intention of being accepted by the popes of high culture; that doesn’t interest me in the slightest,” he said.
(via The Literary Saloon)

04 May 2009

Here and there

A few notes of mine on the London Book Fair's "Marketing Translations and Other 'Difficult' Books" panel just went up today at the Words Without Borders Blog (which also currently features excellent coverage of the PEN World Voices Festival).

I just got back from a whirlwind tour of Haworth, Salisbury, Bath, Oxford, London, and Madrid with my two sisters. The weeks leading up to it were full of essay busyness (studies of Orlando Mejía Rivera's El enfermo de Abisinia and Jorge Franco's Paraíso Travel), which is only now beginning to wind down (somewhat)...as dissertation prep also starts this week. There has been much to say and no time in which to say it, but I've been keeping track of thoughts and things to share for the future.

I'm also very excited about the short list for this year's Independent Foreign Fiction Prize: of the six novels, two are by Colombian writers Evelio Rosero and Juan Gabriel Vásquez (both translated by Anne McLean). The winner will be announced on 15 May.

Finding old friends in Madrid