Thursday, February 28, 2013

2013 AWP Conference & Bookfair

Hynes Convention Center & 
Sheraton Boston Hotel
March 6 - 9, 2013

Come check out our table, S25, and meet Absinthe's managing editor Dwayne Hayes, as well as Elizabeth Kostova and Milena Deleva from the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation who we share the table with


Each year, AWP holds its Annual Conference & Bookfair in a different city to celebrate the authors, teachers, writing programs, literary centers, and independent publishers of that region. The conference typically features 550 readings, lectures, panel discussions, and forums, as well as hundreds of book signings, receptions, dances, and informal gatherings. More than 10,000 writers and readers attended our 2012 conference, and 600 exhibitors were represented at our bookfair. AWP’s is now the largest literary conference in North America. We hope you’ll join us in 2013.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

SLOVO Festival

The 4th SLOVO Russian Literature Festival starts next week in London and Edinburgh!

With 25 events in 21 days, ACADEMIA ROSSICA brings you leading Russian writers including Dmitry Bykov, Mikhail Shishkin, Vera Polozkova, Vladimir Sharov and Evgeny Vodolazkin for a unique and captivating celebration of the literature and culture of Russia today.

From Pushkin to Pelevin, Dostoevsky to Shishkin, Mayakovsky to Bykov – literature has always been Russia’s calling card and writers have been its most important ambassadors. And undoubtedly, when speaking about the relationship between Britain and Russia, it is historically the literary links that have been the strongest ties between the two countries. It is therefore no surprise then that the only festival of Russian literature outside Russia was established in London! And in its fourth year in 2013, SLOVO is now expanding beyond London with a series of events in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Interview with Alta Ifland, Author of Death-in-A-Box


February 14, 2013 by thenewshortreview
Interview with Alta Ifland
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
About two years.
Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
Yes, but it was quite different from the one published. It was twice as big (235 pages), much more eclectic, and because of that, divided into four parts. Eventually, Ninebark Press published half of the stories under the title Elegy for a Fabulous World (the title of one of the stories). The stories they chose were the more realistic, autobiographical ones. Most of the stories left unpublished were shorter, more fable-like, and closer to the so-called “flash fiction” genre (a term I don’t particularly like). These stories became part of Death-in-a-Box.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

passa porta festival 2013


The fourth Passa Porta Festival, which will be held in Brussels between March 20th and 24th 2013, promises four evenings and one day of inspirational encounters, readings and debates with writers, thinkers and opinion-makers from all over the world. In the heart of Europe, a continent where dreams and fantasy are coming under increasing pressure, about a hundred leading authors will make the case for imagination. 
What’s in store: a focus on Arabic literature, with authors who come and report directly on the ‘Arab Spring’; writers for peace, for the right to free expression; writers in the footsteps of Martin Luther King; repressed imagination, but also the erotic imagination; an African lunch, graphic novels, René Magritte, film, football, children’s workshops, walks, tramlines, urban legends, poetry and the hidden places in the city.
The Passa Porta Festival is being organised with the support and collaboration of dozens of partners.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Nordic Noir from Terra Mariana


Indrek Hargla’s witty apothecary Melchior solves the dark mysteries in France.
Gaïa Editions, the French publisher of Scandinavian fiction has undertaken to add another series of Estonian novels to their list. After successfully publishing the five volumes of A.H. Tammsaare’s Truth and Justice they have launched the first part of Indrek Hargla’s medieval crime stories featuring apothecary Melchior. L’Enigme de Saint-Olav (Apothecary Melchior and the Mystery of St. Olaf’s Church) has been translated into French by Jean-Pascal Ollivry.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

The Laboratory: Reading the Eastern Bloc


When I went to see Jiří Hájíček talk about his novel Rustic Baroque (Selský baroko) at Prague’s American Center in mid-January he made an obvious but still very interesting point about what distinguishes the English-language translation of the book from the other translations that have come out so far. He said that not only for Czech readers, but for the readers of the Hungarian, Croatian and if I remember correctly, Polish, versions, the tragic history of the communist land collectivization the novel depicts is something that would be familiar, whereas for readers from the US and UK these would be events entirely outside their collective experience and that this would make it exotic for them in a way it wouldn’t be for readers from former communist countries.
I have always been highly allergic to the guidebook-like notion that it might be a good idea to read international literature as a way of learning about or “visiting” a particular country. As if you might read a novel like Bolaño’s 2666in lieu of a trip to Mexico, after which you can return from the experience  to present your friends figurative slide shows of the warped, demented images you have brought back with you along with raves about the delicious food. And yet there really is something tangible that reading from different places and times provides, and it is of far more than documentary interest, let alone a matter of novelty or edification.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fruits of the Vineyard


Tom Shannon’s 2009 sculpture Drop reflects 
Château La Coste’s sprawling landscape.

An ancient French vineyard is reborn as a site for permanent art installations and modern architecture

For decades, the ancient vineyard of Château La Coste, located on a rolling 600-acre plain near Aix-en-Provence, was a sleeping beauty waiting to be brought to life. Once the center of a major wine-producing region cultivated as early as the Roman times, and a rest stop for pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the property had seen far better days when Irish real-estate developer and art collector Paddy McKillen purchased it in 2002. Convinced that wine-making is “a noble task,” McKillen resolved to restructure the vineyards and to introduce the latest biodynamic standards for their cultivation. At the same time, he realized that La Coste would be a wonderful setting for art.

With that in mind, he invited leading architects and artists to come to La Coste and propose projects that could be realized on its historic terrain. Today, five Pritzker Prize winners and a score of sculptors have left their marks there. With Aix (2008), for example, Richard Serra inserted vast sheets of steel into a hillside at varying angles, like skewed steps. Sean Scully’s signature geometries are realized in the myriad cuts and colors of stone that make up his Wall of Light Cubed from 2007. And Franz West accented the vineyard’s promenade with his bright yellow Faux-Pas (2006), a kind of phallic totem that straddles the line between sculpture and furniture.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

55th International Art Exhibition from June 1st to November 24th, 2013

at the Giardini, the Arsenale and in the city of Venice
From La Biennale

Photo: La Biennale

preview: May 29th, 30th, 31st

The 55th International Art Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia will take place from June 1st to November 24th, 2013 (preview: May 29th, 30th, 31st), at the Giardini, the Arsenale and in the city of Venice.
The decision was made by the Board of la Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo BarattaMassimiliano Gioni is the Director of the Visual Arts section of la Biennale di Venezia and the curator of the next 55th International Art Exhibition.
Massimiliano Gioni (Busto Arsizio, 1973) is a curator and contemporary art critic. In 2010 he directed 10.000 Lives, the eighth Gwangju Art Biennale in South Korea being its youngest and first European director ever of this contemporary art biennale; the edition he curated attracted 500.000 visitors. He was the curator of the section entitled “La Zona” at the 50th International Art Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia. His experience as the artistic director of biennials and other international exhibitions includes the organization of Of Mice and Men – the fourth Berlin Biennale (2006) – and the fifth edition of the travelling art biennale Manifesta (2004). He is the Associate Director of the New Museum in New York and the Artistic Director of the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi in Milan.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Berlinale 2013 Winner: Calin Peter Netzer’s CHILD’S POSE

Child's Pose


Calin Peter Netzer‘s psychological drama Child’s Pose won the Golden Bear at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival, and we’re here to congratulate Netzer and his team!
Straight from Romania comes this pretty intense story of “quasi-pathological relationship” of a wealthy mother who uses her connections to try and stop her son from going to jail. Head inside to find the trailer and more details about the movie!
Child's Pose
Calin Peter Netzer directed the movie from a script he co-wrote with Razvan Radulescu, which is actually a tale of corruption and guilt in modern Romania.Luminita Gheorghiu stars as the above mentioned mother – rich and controlling woman named Cornelia Kerenes who gives false statements to save her son from jail after he accidentally runs down and kills a boy.

Monday, February 18, 2013

An Uneasy Revelry: A Review of Before Saying Any of the Great Words


An Uneasy Revelry


Okla Elliott

Since many American readers may not be familiar with David Huerta, let me introduce you to the poet, before I go on to discuss this career-ranging selection of his poetry and Mark Schafer’s excellent translation of it. Huerta has written nineteen books of poetry and has received nearly every literary award a poet can win in his native Mexico. He is associated with the Neobaroque movement in Latin American literature and with postmodern language poetry. In 2005, he received the Xavier Villaurrutia Prize for lifelong contribution to Mexican literature. Suffice to say, he is one Mexico’s (and the Spanish language’s) major poets. He is also well known as a political columnist, translator, and activist. But fame and recognition are not enough to convince a discerning reader, and one ought not to be impressed by awards but rather by the work itself.
The first poem I’d like to look at, “Machinery,” is a good example of both Huerta’s strength as a poet and the difficulties Schafer had to overcome in translating him. It is a longish poem (65 lines), so let’s only look at the opening movement:

What’s the use of all this I ask you your fever your sobbing
What’s the use of yelling or butting your head against the fog
Why crash in the branches scratch those nickels
What’s the point of jinxing yourself staining yourself

The odd syntax and the overflow of poetic energy are well represented in the English. My only complaint is that in the first line, the English allows for a double reading such that the speaker asks the “you” his question and perhaps asks “your fever” and “your sobbing,” while also allowing “your fever” and “your sobbing” to still be the “all this” of his question—all of which is a really pleasant possible double reading, but which is unfortunately not in the Spanish. The Spanish reads “Para qué sirve todo eso te digo tu fiebre tu sollozo.” The verb is decir (“to tell, to say”), thus allowing for the more literal “What’s the use of all this I tell you your fever your sobbing” but which does not eliminate the possibility of a double reading, since the issue isn’t really so much the verb as the indirect object “te” in Spanish that is placed before the verb instead of after it in English, thus eliminating the possible double-meaning in Spanish and creating it in English. Basically, what we have here is an example of why Umberto Eco calls translation “the art of failure.” Spanish grammar clarifies what the English cannot without major alteration to either the sense or syntax. And so my complaint is not with Schafer’s translation but rather with the onerous task of translation itself. Schafer meets with dozens of these sorts of impasses throughout the book and generally finds innovative ways around them, and when no way around exists, he limits the loss in joy from the original, as he has here. (My complaint, I trust most will agree, is rather nitpicky and perhaps entirely unimportant in some readers’ minds.)

Let’s now look at “Sick Man” in its entirety, which exemplifies the productive strangeness of many of Huerta’s poems. Here, illness disrupts reality and language, making technically nonsensical language carry an emotional resonance that a more direct psychological realism could not:

The nighttime dog eats
two rings of blood
but the twilight dog chases him away.
The diamonds in his chest
burn and scatter.
The daytime dog licks
the entrance to his chest
but the nighttime dog
knows the way out.
All the dogs
want a backbone of diamonds.
Two rings of fresh blood spin around.
His chest finds itself increasingly alone
with the scent of barking.

That threatening bark is perhaps the threat of debilitation at illness’s hand, the fear of death, the crushing loneliness of serious illness. And the synergistic confusion is (and isn’t) the impenetrable meaningless of death/illness. I don’t mean to shrink Huerta’s poetic language to prosaic interpretations, since he could just as easily have written a straightforward thought-piece on illness and animal imagery, had that been what he intended to communicate, but I think the above-mentioned notions are some of the things he is after. Also, notice the perfect use of the title to force our understanding of the poem. I likely would have thought the poem was only mediocre if it were, for example, titled “Dogs.” His title (“Hombre enfermo” in the original) adds an emotional valence to all the words of the poem that would otherwise be mere pretty language without emotional import. This technique of title-as-lens is one Huerta uses to great effect throughout the book.

Schafer tells us in his introduction that he has two goals in mind with this book. “On the one hand, I want to offer English-speaking readers an overview of Huerta’s poetry since he published his first book, El jardín de la luz, in 1972. On the other hand, given that Huerta is alive and well, writing and publishing prolifically, I want to give readers ample opportunity to revel in his more recent work.” And revel is exactly what the reader does.

The publication of Before Saying Any of the Great Words is another in a long line of great contributions Copper Canyon Press has made to American poetry. In a post-monolingual world, and especially in the USA, which is quickly becoming officially and unofficially bilingual, I hope Huerta’s work will be read widely. Works in translation have a long tradition of influencing English-language poetry—from the Earl of Surrey, who invented blank verse in order to translate Virgil’s Ænead (which was metered but not rhymed)—thus allowing for Shakespeare’s plays to exist as we know them—to the importing of such forms as the sonnet from its Italian progenitors or the couplet from the French, and so on. What better time than now, in the age of globalization, for us to learn from our literary compatriots who live in other countries and write in other languages? I would therefore suggest Before Saying Any of the Great Words not only for classes on Latin American literature but also for poetry workshops, working poets everywhere, and anyone interested in the marvelously rich culture of Mexico.

[The above review was originally published in Florida State University's The Southeast Review in a slightly different form.]

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Creativity Workshop in Prague



Program Overview

  • The Creativity Workshop in Prague will help you become more creative in your personal and professional life; to this end, the Workshop uses the tools of creative writing, memoir, art, photography, storytelling, mapmaking, and guided visualization.
  • Participants come from many different countries and professional fields, including business, education, psychology, the sciences, and the arts.
  • Many people who have taken the Workshop say that it was a transformative experience, helping them to write their books, start new companies, complete long overdue projects, transition to rewarding retirements, and change the way they look at life.

Program Details

  • The Creativity Workshop in Prague meets for 5 days, 3 1/2 hours per day (from 10:00 AM to 1:30 PM). You will have the rest of your time free to take in this breathtaking city, famous for its blocks of original Baroque and Art Nouveau buildings.
  • Class will be held at Hotel Paris, a beautiful Art Nouveau building in Prague’s historical center, in a section primarily open to pedestrians only. From here, you will be within easy walking distance of Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Venturing to visit Istanbul’s famous walls

Six men are sitting around a pot in which we can see they had placed fish, tomatoes, lemons and onions they had cooked together. Each one simply reaches in with his fork and takes whatever he wants

When does a date become old history? These days, in the world of literature any novel set 20 years ago or more becomes part of the historical fiction genre. Does a true adventure that occurred nearly 25 years ago count as the past? Given all the recent articles on Istanbul’s city walls following the murder of an American tourist, perhaps you would be interested in excerpts from a firsthand account of people who lived inside the walls, which was published in this newspaper Sept. 15, 1989. It was a warm day when my colleague and friend Gül Demir and I walked the walls.

The police insisted that there were no people living in the city’s land walls. No gypsies, nobody. Everyone had been cleared out when the restoration project initiated by former Mayor Bedrettin Dalan began. We wouldn’t find anyone, they said.

Continue Reading 

Friday, February 15, 2013

30th International Conference on Psychology and the Arts

We are pleased to announce that the 30th International Conference on Psychology and the Arts will be held at theUniversity of Porto, Portugal, June 26-30, 2013. Our hosts will be Professor Diniz Cayolla Ribeiro and Professor José Pereira Bastos. The conference sponsors are the Institute of Research in ArtDesign and Society (i2ADS)University of Porto and the PsyArt Foundation.

Although the majority of the papers will be in English, depending upon submissions, we may also have sessions in French, German, and Portuguese. Papers should deal with any application of psychology—including psychoanalysis, object relations, feminist, Jungian, or Lacanian approaches, cognitive psychology, or neuroscience-- to the study of literature, film, painting, sculpture, music, or the other arts. Our conference is small (maximum 70 papers), very convivial, and draws scholars from around the world. We also welcome conferees who do not plan to present papers.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cultural Homogeneity and the Future of Literary Translation

A creeping homogenization is developing in prose fiction, a kind of generic international content and style that transcends national borders.
By Burton Pike
Translator Burton Pike,
The equation of language with nation and the nation-state reached its peak in the 19th century. It began to break down seriously around 1900, with the rise of linguistics, semiotics, and language-oriented philosophy and psychology. Language became an independent area of intellectual investigation, investigation directed toward language as such.
In our time, language and nation have become increasingly decoupled from each other. Literary language is no longer considered the marker of a nation; it has become simply instrumental, a medium of communication. This is having an impact on the writing of literature, and consequently on translation.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The hunt for the Golden Bear

© picture-alliance­/dpa


Every year in February the German capital experiences great cinema during the Berlinale. Once again a large number of international stars have announced they will be attending the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival from 7 to 17 February 2013.

The Berlinale 2013 will be rolling out the red carpet for not one, but three grandes dames of French cinema: Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche and Isabelle Huppert will be among the celebrated international stars expected inBERLIN by journalists, film industry professionals and numerous film and festival fans from all over the world. With roughly 300,000 tickets sold, the Berlinale is not only a meeting place for the film industry, but also the world’s largest public film festival. In 2013 audiences will be able to see more than 400 films in different festival sections: Competition, Panorama, Forum, Generation, Perspektive Deutsches Kino, Berlinale Special, Berlinale Shorts, Retrospective and Homage. The programme is complemented by interesting special series and the Berlinale Talent Campus for young international filmmakers.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Conservative Confirmation Or Progressive Lottery? The World of Czech Literary Awards


Foto: Creative Commons/ Cian Ginty
The small Czech language community has lost its literary authorities. Czechs don't have time to read fiction; on the other hand, there are more fictional books being published than ever before. The contemporary situation in literature is generally perceived as that of a crisis or chaos. And the existing literary prizes play a considerable role in all of this.

The Czech Republic is a country with a relatively small book market; in spite of that, more than twenty literary and book prizes are awarded every year, of course excluding the daunting number of regional, genre and amateur prizes. My guess is that almost nobody in the various literary circles would be able to enumerate them all. If the current situation in literature lacks transparency and readers find it confusing, then this also applies to literary prizes.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Absinthe Video of the Week: Ulf Peter Hallberg and "European Trash"

We are readying publication of Ulf Peter Hallberg's fantastic novel European Trash and will have much more to say about that in the upcoming weeks but, for now, I thought I'd re-post a video of Hallberg discussing the book and how he came to title it European Trash.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Crème de la crème


Such straining and pasteurising is going on in the city that Arabs and other Muslims, the unemployed, drunkards, poor people and lunatics have been eliminated. By chance I became a cultural figure, and I was invited to a cultural evening whose invitation had been personally written by the Anarchist. At the restaurant table sat the Anarchist, the Psychoanalyst and the Psychologist’s boyfriend, 20 years younger, the Journalist, the Gift-Shop Owner, a Librarian and the Deputy Rector of a community college. Accompanying me to the restaurant, too, were the Wolf and the Deer, who hadn’t been invited. Sparse white fur grew on the Wolf’s narrow muzzle and there were teeth missing from his mouth. The Deer was beautiful, with huge eyes. And of course both of them were drunk. I asked them to come along because I believed that intellectuals are warm-hearted and open-minded. A really dumb idea. Bitter sangria was poured from a jug into thimble-sized glasses, and the group waited politely for its tapas. The Wolf raised his quivering snout. ‘What shall we talk about, mesdames, messieurs?’ 

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This story was first published in Finnish in the literary journal Parnasso (6–7/2012)


  • Kristina Carlson (born 1949) is a writer, poet and author of several books for young people. She was the Editor-in-Chief of Books from Finland between 2002 and 2005. Her novel Maan ääreen (‘To the end of the earth’, Otava, 1999) won the Finlandia Prize for Fiction. Her subsequent novels, Herra Darwinin puutarhuri (‘Mr Darwin’s gardener’, 2009) and William N. Päiväkirja (‘William N. Diary’, 2011) are set in 19th-century England and France, respectively. Carlson's works have been published in three languages. She lives in her native Helsinki.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Wenn Träume sterben/ When Dreams Die

A beautiful ballad about the warmth of love and beauty and the pain and sadness that take over when it turns cold...  

Wenn Träume sterben

Music and lyrics by Henrik Lüchtenborg

 English Lyrics:

When dreams die, don’t let me go,
when leaves fall, let me stay here a little while,

when the laughter dies down,

give me a smile, if only for a moment,
and when love is mere use, let me feel strength,

when the laughter dies down,

give me a smile, if only for a moment,
when everything ends and nothing new begins,

when the pictures are silent and blue turns gray,
when rust flows in my veins,
when everything warm is just too cold,

when the laughter dies down,

give me a smile, if only for a moment,
when love is mere use, let me feel strength

and when love is silent,

give me a smile, if only for a moment,

when everything ends and nothing new begins...

[Translated by Jasmina Tacheva]

German Lyrics:

Wenn Träume sterben, lass mich noch nicht mit gehn,
 wenn Blätter fallen, lass mich noch’n Weilchen hier stehn,

wenn das Lachen verstummt,

gib mir ein Lächeln, wenn auch nur kurz
und wenn Liebe ist nur noch Nutz, lass mich Stärke fühlen,

wenn das Lachen verstummt,

gib mir ein Lächeln, wenn auch nur kurz,
wenn alles endet und nichts Neues mehr beginnt,

wenn Bilder schweigen, wenn blau zu grau erstarrt,
wenn Rost in meinen Adern fließt,
wenn alles warm einfach zu kalt wird,

wenn das Lachen verstummt,

gib mir ein Lächeln, wenn auch nur kurz,
wenn Liebe ist nur noch Nutz, lass mich Stärke fühlen

und wenn die Liebe verstummt,

gib mir Lächeln, wenn auch nur kurz,

wenn alles endet und nichts Neues mehr beginnt…

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Petition for Translation

And now to draw your attention to a worthy initiative I’ve become peripherally involved in (occasionally lending my services as a translator): a Facebook-based fan petition, founded and spearheaded by J. Antonio Fraga, to have the works of genius cartoonist Moebius translated into English. Moebius, who passed away last year, needs no introduction: his visionary works redefined the landscape of multiple genres, most notably science fiction, beyond the comics medium and across film, animation, and design. What Moebius there is in English is really just the tip of the iceberg, and being largely out of print, isn’t accessible to readers anyway. It’s time he was introduced to a new generation in a manner befitting him.

Madame Isabelle Giraud currently manages her late husband’s estate, and the petition is addressed to her as rightsholder. I still can’t get over Moebius’ last words, none better for a SF giant; on his deathbed, he reportedly said to her, "I can feel myself transmuting... give me the repair codes!"

Since numerous reprints of Moebius’ work have appeared in other languages and territories, the question is: why not English? Are offers being made, or turned down? Are English-language rights being specifically withheld? Kim Thompson’s speculations on the issue, informed by years in the editorial trenches of this relatively incestuous medium, made some waves when first aired in a comments thread at The Comics Journal.
“If I had to guess — and in the absence of no solid facts whatsoever, what with Mme. Giraud’s Sphinx-like demeanor on the subject — my conjecture would be that she feels Moebius was such a titan in the field that eventually some major English-language publisher is going to wake up and offer a ton of money for all of Moebius (say, mid six figures) — as Marvel did to whatever degree once, but this time on steroids — and piddling away the rights to individual volumes at a time on small publishers who’ll want to license just a couple of books and pay a few bucks (at the low end of five figures, say) here and there is a waste of her time, an insult to Moebius, and a threat to the eventual grand bargain that could be struck for the works with some Random House-scaled publisher someday. (In a way, the tabula rase lack of Moebius books in print in English is an opportunity.) So until that day, “No” is the easy, fall-back answer.
My other main area of interest as a translator is the fantastic, and there I recall a similar case keeping English readers from a worthy body of work. For years, the œuvre of Belgian master Jean Ray has been unavailable to a general reading public. Appearances have been restricted to the rare anthology piece and expensive volumes from exclusive small presses of soon-exhausted print runs (whereupon the expensive, in the hands of used book dealers, becomes priceless). To put it crudely, Jean Ray was like Poe and Lovecraft combined; he singlehandedly defined the Francophone fantastic in the first half of the twentieth century, bringing the early explorations of the Decadents into the energetic era of the pulps. The author of several acknowledged masterpieces, countless landmark short stories, and reams of lesser adventures of eminent historical interest to the genre, he is a towering figure whose potential impact on the English world is just beginning to be felt fifty years after the fact. A coterie of English readers clamors for more translations, but the agent for his estate turns down every offer as too low, driven by an estimate of his work that is no more unfounded than it is unrealistic.

Once again, the politics of English’s clout on a world stage are in play here. To the complications of translation into any language—negotiations of syntax, vocabulary, cultural history and context—are added issues of authority and disseminative power. Translators working into English must contend with that fact. Languages, like beliefs, draw their power from the number and power of their users. English derives dynamism from the sheer quality and volume of its users’ contributions; testing a language’s malleability makes it grow. As the gateway language, English polices the parameters of the known world—by that, I mean the most immediately visible and transmissible world. I’m often embarrassed by how eagerly authors I’ve translated greet me, a gratitude that seems disproportionate to my services. And I am ashamed, not only for how little I’ve done to deserve their thanks, but for how outsized the hope is that English, the gateway language, commands. French publishers marketing books at international rights fairs have sample chapters translated into English, knowing that Korean and Greek editors alike will be able to evaluate them on that basis. Translation into English not only confers prestige, for English is currently the language of the arbiters of culture, but also carries with it broadcast breadth and reach. In that sense it constitutes a fundamentally different media channel from most other languages.

The fan-founded petition, which has garnered some famous supporters and gotten some friendly buzz, raises another topic of interest in this day and age when print publishers struggle to harness the power of all things digital and explore alternative business models. Comics make a great case study, having at once one foot firmly in the world of book-as-object, and yet taking advantage of the net’s ability to form and maintain fan communities. A few years ago Comix Influx tried to migrate fansubs, long a staple of manga and anime, to the Eurocomics sphere, careful to sidestep copyright infringement by posting only the translated text, which they rightly pointed out was useless without owning the actual graphic novel to read along with. Although down right now, founder Stephen Betts has promised Influx will come back. This kind of organized fan activity seemed poised to prove to US publishers that there was indeed a fan base ready and waiting for Eurocomics, disproving their usual arguments for not bringing over more work in translation (the cost of creating a readership, etc). But fans and publishers weren’t connecting. I’ll be interested to see what impact the Moebius petition has over the long run.