“When you are a latecomer, outsider, immigrant, exile, there are fractures in your life that you can’t heal… I have a lot of respect for people that have stayed behind and have to deal with the wounds every day.” Elif Shafak
Posts tagged "language"
Secrets and lies, red Welshmen and words of vagrant wisdom

Secrets and lies, red Welshmen and words of vagrant wisdom

“All families develop a special language, words and references no outsider can understand. My family’s special language was Rotwelsch.” Thus begins Martin Puchner’s complex, compelling, if at times ambivalent exploration of a family and a language, or in point of fact of Language (and perhaps Family) capitalised. Of language as an institution, as a structure...
Literary lingo

Literary lingo

While serving in World War II, Joseph Heller concluded that war was a farce in which only those crazy enough to fight were considered sane enough to do so. That became the theme of a novel he wrote several years later. Heller titled his novel Catch-18. Just as this book was about to be published...
from Lumen

from Lumen

How might poetry help us articulate the body in illness, in work, and in love? Tiffany Atkinson’s fourth collection includes the sequence ‘Dolorimeter’, which won the 2014 Medicine Unboxed Prize. Taking fragments of speech and found text from a hospital residency at Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth to pay homage to the inventiveness and humour of...
The vulgar, not the Vulgate

The vulgar, not the Vulgate

A brief note on the word, ‘sex’. I find myself avoiding it often. It is an ugly word. Not because it is boorish, but because it is too refined. ‘Sex’ is clinical: sterile, precise, institutional. It comes from the Norman French, originally Latin – what philologists Reneé and Henry Kahane called ‘the status symbol of...
'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....