Saturday, March 31, 2012

Liv Ullmann on "Face to Face"

For nearly a decade, the Bergman Center on Fårö has been hosting Bergman Week, providing guests an opportunity to see films, attend lectures, and view exhibits related to Ingmar Bergman's career and life. I hope to have the opportunity to attend sometime soon.

I recently viewed Bergman's 1976 film Face to Face, starring Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson, and found it one of the most difficult Bergman films to watch due to the raw and intense emotions vividly portrayed by Liv Ullmann. So, I found it quite interesting to see this short video from Bergman Week 2010 where she talks about some of the humor behind the scenes.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Translation Lab at Ledig House

A great opportunity for translators this fall:

Writers Omi at Ledig House, a part of Omi International Arts Center, has been awarded a grant from to fund Translation Lab, a weeklong special, intensive residency for five collaborating writer‐translator teams in the fall of 2012. Writers Omi will host five English language translators to the Omi International Arts Center for one week. These translators will be invited along with the writers whose work is being translated. This focused residency will provide an integral stage of refinement, allowing translators to dialogue with the writers about text‐specific questions. It will also serve as an essential community‐builder for English‐language translators who are working to increase the amount of international literature available to American readers.
The dates for Translation Lab are November 9‐16, 2012. All residencies are fully funded, including international airfare and local transport from New York City to the Omi International Arts Center in Ghent, NY.
Writers Omi will be accepting proposals for participation until July 1, 2012. Translators, writers, editors, or agents can submit proposals. Each proposal should be no more than three pages in length and provide the following information:
  • Brief biographical sketches for the translator and writer associated with each project;
  • Publishing status for proposed projects (projects that do not yet have a publisher are still eligible);
  • A description of the proposed project;
  • Contact information (physical address, email, and phone).
Proposals should be submitted only once availability for residency participation of the translator and writer has been confirmed. All proposals and inquiries should be sent directly to DW Gibson, director or Writers Omi at Ledig House at:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Absinthe Recommends: The Faster I Walk the Smaller I am by Kjersti A. Skomsvold

Now that she’s nearing death Mathea Martinsen feels like it is time to try to reconnect with a world she has largely abandoned (or that has abandoned her). In The Faster I Walk the Smaller I am (Dalkey Archive Press), by Kjersti A. Skomsvold and translated by Kerri A. Pierce, the author has created a quirkily endearing character.

We learn of Mathea’s life with her late husband Epsilon, of their attempt at child-bearing, and her desire for him to retire, a desire that when fulfilled leaves her to herself to muse about her existence, how to continue with life, and how to bring things to an end.
A B&N Discover Great New Writers pick, the novel also received the Tarjei Vesaas First Book Prize in 2009. 

Skomsvold was born in Oslo in 1979 and The Faster I Walk the Smaller I am is her first novel. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Interview with German Filmmaker Christian Petzold

(c) Hans Fromm
German Filmmaker Christian Petzold's film Barbara received 8 nominations for the German Film Awards, known as the Lolas, to be awarded on April 27th.

An interview with Petzold recently appeared at Among other things, he spoke of the literary inspiration for the film:

Two books were important to this film. One was Hermann Broch's novella "Barbara", which is set in 1928 and tells the story of a female doctor who takes a job in a rural hospital in order to hide her communist activities from the police. The other was the novel "Rummelplatz" (fairground) by Werner Bräunig. My friend Hartmut Bitomsky says that only through this novel did he again realise the extent to which anti-Fascists, workers, farmers and intellectuals had tried to establish a better country in eastern Germany in 1945. 

In Bräunig's book there are two passages that I will always remember. A doctor's son from a well-do-to family is consumed by physical work for the first time in a uranium mine. He defines and objectifies himself through this work. Work had almost completely disappeared from the literature and cinema in the West. The second passage that appealed to me very much was when the book tells how skilled workers were almost completely wooed to the West, and women replaced them. For women, this brought a new self-understanding about what it meant to be a woman in the world. I wanted to tell a story about this.  

Monday, March 26, 2012

Absinthe #17: Spotlight on Bulgaria is coming soon!

Absinthe #17 is coming soon and features the Bulgarian writers Georgi Gospodinov, Milen Ruskov, Emilia Dvoryanova, Vladislav Todorov, Krassimir Damianov, Kristin Dimitrova, Virginia Zaharieva, Vladimir Zarev, Yanitza Radeva, Ivan Dimitrov, Theodora Dimova, Zdravka Evtimova, Dimiter Kenarov, Maria Doneva, Niki Boikov, Stefan Ivanov, along with an 8-page portfolio of art by Stela Vasileva and Pravdoliub Ivanov, an essay on translation by Hristina Keranova, and reviews of recent Bulgarian films and books.

This is going to be a great issue and you can preorder it now at a discount here.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

On Václav Havel

In the Nation, Caleb Crain writes of Václav Havel's significance and moral integrity, and touches on Havel's views on the importance of theatre:

Theater is capable of bringing a group of people into a new understanding of themselves, in Havel’s opinion. “A single performance for a few dozen people,” he wrote to (his first wife) Olga, “can be incomparably more important than a television serial viewed and talked about by the entire country.” Havel’s faith may seem quaint today, when impact is measured in sales or page views. But he insisted on it for other forms of art as well. If only twenty people read a novel, he wrote in his open letter to Husák, “the fact of its existence would still be important.” As “the main instrument of society’s self-awareness,” culture is like a vitamin. A society can survive without it for a while, subsisting instead on the “slick, trivial, and predigested” entertainment products of a totalitarian regime, but not forever. Censorship is not the only way to starve a society; it can also be deprived of essential nutrients by a diet of junk. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Merethe Lindstrøm wins the Nordic Council Literature Prize 2012

The Norwegian author Merethe Lindstrøm has won the Nordic Council Literature Prize 2012 for her novel Dager i stillhetens historie (Days in the History of Silence). 

(c) Johannes Jansson/ 
Lindstrøm was born in Bergen in 1963 and made her debut with the short story collection Sexorcisten og andre fortellinger in 1983. She is the author of several other short story collections, novels, and has published a children's book. Lindstrøm was nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize in 2008 for her collection of short stories Gjestene (2007) and received the Dobloug Prize in 2008.

According to the prize web site, her winning novel “projects a strong, tense family drama about silence and secrecy. It is about the love between two people who have made important choices that define their entire existence, just to realize that some things cannot be ignored. The past not only resurfaces, it has been there all along.”

It does not appear that any of her work has appeared in English translation to date. Perhaps that will now change.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Upcoming Absinthe Fundraiser & Silent Auction

If you live in the Detroit-area join us on April 15th for a great event that will assist Absinthe in raising funds for our festival of international film & writing to be held this summer.
The fundraiser takes place at Ginger's Cafe in downtown Farmington from 2-4 pm on Sunday, April 15th. Ginger's Cafe is located at 32905 Grand River Ave, Farmington, MI, 48336.

 The fundraiser will feature live music--along with wine, coffee, cheese & crackers and othergoodies--a silent auction, and a reading by noted poet and writer Keith Taylor.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here or by sending a check to:

Absinthe: New European Writing
P.O. Box 2297
Farmington Hills, MI 48333-2297 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

That Other Word: A New Podcast on International Literature

Scott Esposito, of the Center for the Art of Translation, and Daniel Medin, of the Center for Writers and Translators at American University in Paris, are co-hosting a new monthly podcast: That Other Word. The podcast is definitely worth checking out and will offer "discussions on classic and contemporary literature in translation, along with engaging interviews with writers, translators, and publishers."

They have released the first episode, which includes an interview with Lorin Stein, editor of Natasha Wimmer's Roberto Bolano translations at FSG, and currently editor of The Paris Review.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nordic Prize Awarded to Icelandic Author Einar Már Guðmundsson

We failed to mention that a few days ago the Swedish Academy announced that Einar Már Guðmundsson is the recipient of the Nordiska Pris.

More coverage is available here.

Guðmundsson was born in 1954 and perhaps is best-known for the novel Englar alheimsins (Angels of the Universe, 1993). He received the Nordic Council Literature Prize in 1995. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Coverage of the Best Translated Book Award

As usual, you'll find great coverage of the Best Translated Book Award at Three Percent, along with posts highlighting the 25 books on the list. You are sure to find a few books to add to your reading list.