"Money won’t save us. Things won’t save us. We’ve failed our moral responsibility to be stewards of this planet. I hope this epiphany arrives, and I hope it leads to change." Rumaan Alam
Posts tagged "language"
'La lengua': interpreters the colonial age

‘La lengua’: interpreters the colonial age

In August 1492, Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain, hoping to find a westwards trading route to Asia. With him were two interpreters, fluent in various European and Middle Eastern languages. Columbus himself, who was originally from Genoa in Italy, also spoke several European languages. Even within Spain, a multitude of languages coexisted, many of...
Deb Olin Unferth: Free the birds!

Deb Olin Unferth: Free the birds!

Deb Olin Unferth’s ferociously funny novel Barn 8 drops Brooklyn teenager Janey Flores into the utterly alien environment of rural Iowa, where she is recruited into a thankless job as an auditor for the US laying-hen industry. Appalled by the grim conditions in the vast chicken barns, she and her boss Cleveland Smith go rogue...
It's coming!

It’s coming!

At stake: the contested objects, nine hundred thousand white leghorn hens, their foremothers brought over from Italy in the mid-nineteenth century and bred in a frenzy ever since. Were they property or individuals? That’s what had to be decided. — It was from this farm, don’t forget, that Cleveland had taken Bwwaauk some three months...
Chinese Almanac

Chinese Almanac

My father lives by the Chinese Almanac (通勝) – it tells fortunes. Like when might be a good day to marry your lover or move house or landscape a garden. Me, I have no truck with that kind of hocus-pocus. Keep it simple. Two rules: you don’t turn down food; you stay the fuck out...
City limits

City limits

They say everybody has at least one book inside them. I know I did once. The only question back then was which language it would be written in. I’ve introduced you to the in-laws, now meet my parents. Like the husband’s family, we all were born, live and will almost certainly die within the confines...
On translation

On translation

For some, translation is the poor cousin of literature, fool’s gold or last resort, a necessary evil if not an outright travesty. For others, it is the royal road to cross-cultural understanding and literary enrichment. Translation skirts the boundaries between art and craft, originality and replication, altruism and commerce, even between genius and hack work....
Riddled words, puzzled lives

Riddled words, puzzled lives

There is something deliciously provocative about a work of literary fiction that begins with the statement “If it sounds like writing, rewrite it”. It is a pronouncement that holds the reader in irresistible tension: will this prove to be the most flawless of narratives or be exposed instead as the most bombastic of bathetic ironies?...
Vagrant tales

Vagrant tales

Before Greece embraced modernity and its marvels, it was a nation of stark realities and pernickety sprites. Lore and legend held as much validity as did hard facts in the popular imagination, but also in the synthesis of what was no less than a national soul. Sprites, trolls, crones, harridans and ogres, with innumerable names,...
Approaching Onegin

Approaching Onegin

Alexander Pushkin is, by universal assent, the most important figure in the history of Russian culture, and his finest work is Yevgeny Onegin (1823–31). He is to Russia what Dante is to Italy, Shakespeare to England and Cervantes to Spain, and for the Russians his novel in verse is a rough equivalent to those other...
Shouting at a river

Shouting at a river

Standing over a bassinet in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the early hours of Christmas Eve, 2002, I contemplated what the hell my first act as a father should be. My Miss Marie had been dragged into the world, with suction, only a few minutes before, and after flunking one Apgar test and remaining...