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On International Translation Day, Tess Lewis, Linn Mehta and Nandana Sen celebrate linguistic and literary diversity by sharing their translations of works by three beloved writers.
Tess Lewis is a writer and translator from French and German. Her translations include works by Walter Benjamin, Christine Angot, Philippe Jaccottet, and Peter Handke. Her recent awards include the 2017 PEN Translation Prize for Maja Haderlap’s Angel of Oblivion and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is an Advisory Editor for The Hudson Review and in 2021 will be co-curating the German-language literary festival, Festival Neue Literatur, for the third time. www.tesslewis.org
On International Translation Day, Tess will share her English translation of One Another, a novel by the German author Monique Schwitter.
In One Another, a writer googles the name of her first love and discovers he committed suicide years ago. Memories of Petrus begin to flood into her mind, followed by the memories of other loves, one after another. What exactly is love? How does it come and go? She begins to search her personal history for answers. Twelve men. Twelve chapters in a novel. Melancholy Petrus, handsome actor Jakob, Simon with his pet rat, gay Nathanael, a student, her brother. Her husband’s story is supposed to be the last. But as story after story unfolds, the past and present entangle until her orderly search is interrupted by present-day complications of love and by a startling event overlooked at home that begins to seize the plotline of both her art and life. Karen Russell noted that “One Another is a beautiful, charming, funny and philosophical book about the mad gamble of love. Schwitter is a miraculously gifted writer, and it’s pure pleasure to ricochet around her roomy, vibrant universe. There are no cold cases here—in these twelve chapters, old flames burn bright again, rekindled by the narrator’s powerful imagination. She fuses these shards of broken relationships into a mirror, revealing her own face to us in the process—a true delight.”
Monique Schwitter was born in Zurich, Switzerland and worked as an actress in prominent European theaters. She has written several collections of short stories and plays. Her first novel, One Another, was short-listed for the German Book Prize and won the Swiss Book Prize in 2015.
Linn Cary Mehta has taught English and Comparative Literature at Columbia, Yale, Vassar, and currently at Barnard College and at NYU, and worked as a Program Officer in Education and Culture at the Ford Foundation. Having graduated from Yale (BA 1977) and Oxford (MA 1988), she received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2004 and, in 2015, published Poetry and Politics of Decolonization: Tagore, Yeats, Senghor, Césaire, and Neruda. A poet and translator, her teaching focuses on 19th and 20th-century poetry in English, Spanish, and French; her writing concerns the interaction of literature and politics during the past century. Ongoing involvement with immigrant cultures in New York has led her to serve on the boards of Goddard-Riverside Community Center; the Center for Traditional Music and Dance; and ID Studio Theater Performance and Research Center, for which she has adapted and translated plays from French and Spanish into English.
On International Translation Day, Linn will share her English translation of the French writer Louis Calaferte, author of Three Beggars and a Rich Man.
Louis Calaferte (1928-1994) was one of the most prolific and controversial French writers of the twentieth century. His published oeuvre of over ninety works includes forty poetry collections, six volumes of collected plays, an extraordinarily rich series of notebooks, several books of short prose, erotica, and novels such as Requiem des innocents (1952), and La Mécanique des femmes (1992)—the latter published in an English translation at Northwestern University Press as The Way It Works with Women. Born in Italy to working class parents, Calaferte grew up near Lyon, France. In his early teens during the Depression, Calaferte worked as an errand boy in a battery factory and later began work as a general laborer. During this time, of course he read a lot, and in 1947 moved to Paris, where he got a job at the Théâtre de l’Odéon as a theatre extra. There he began to write plays. He received a standing ovation for one of them at the age of twenty. It is therefore no surprise that he went on to receive the Grand Prix de la Littérature Dramatique de la Ville de Paris for his entire theatrical work in 1984.
An actor, writer, and child-rights activist, Nandana Sen has authored six children’s books, translated into 15 languages globally. She grew up in India, England and America, and has starred in twenty feature films from four continents. Nandana‘s interactive storytellings have been boisterously loved by over 30,000 young people across the world. Nandana is the Ambassador for Child Protection for Save the Children, India. She has partnered with UNICEF, Apne Aap International, and the National Commission for Protection of Child rights, to fight and end child trafficking. The winner of the Last Girl Champion Award, as well as multiple Best Actress awards, Nandana has served on the jury of a number of child-protection commissions, global film festivals, and international literary awards. After studying literature at Harvard and filmmaking at U.S.C., Nandana worked as a book editor, a screenwriter, a translator, a script-doctor, and as Princess Jasmine in Disneyland. www.nandanadevsen.com
On International Translation Day, Nandana will share her English translations of the Bengali poetry of her celebrated mother Nabaneeta Dev Sen (from her previous book Make Up Your Mind, as well as her forthcoming collection from Archipelago Books, Acrobat).
Nabaneeta Dev Sen will remain one of the best-loved Bengali writers of all time. She published her first (and very successful) book of poems at the age of 18, and grew to be immensely popular in every genre, including novels, short stories, literary criticism, travelogues, plays, humor, narrative non-fiction, political columns, and children's literature. Educated in Presidency College and Jadavpur University in Kolkata, and then at Harvard, Berkeley and Indiana Universities, Dr. Dev Sen lived a parallel life as an equally acclaimed international scholar and feminist, and a Professor of Comparative Literature. Her many literary honors include the Padmashri, Sahitya Akademi Award, Bangla Academy Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Publishers' and Booksellers' Guild. Dr. Dev Sen was a tireless mentor to innumerable students and young writers, and was the Founder and President of the Women Writers' Association, Soi.