Transnational Literature Series at Brookline Booksmith presents: Olga Tokarczuk for FLIGHTS

Olga Tokarczuk will be in conversation with translator Jennifer Croft and writer Askold Melynczuk as part of the Transnational Literature Series. For more information, please contact series curator Shuchi Saraswat at shuchi@brooklinebooksmith.com.

Olga Tokarczuk is one of Poland’s most celebrated and beloved authors, a two-time winner of her country’s highest literary honor, the Nike. She is the author of eight novels and two short story collections, and has been translated into a dozen languages. Her work has appeared in n +1, BOMB, and Asymptote. Jennifer Croft is an American author, critic and translator who works from Polish, Ukrainian and Argentine Spanish. She was awarded the Man Booker International Prize along with Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk, for her translation of Flights. Askold Melnyczuk is an American writer whose publications include novels, essays, poems, memoir, and translations

About the book:

WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE

A visionary work of fiction with “echoes of Sebald and] Kundera . . . There’s] no better travel companion in these turbulent, fanatical times” (The Guardian). A seventeenth-century Dutch anatomist discovers the Achilles tendon by dissecting his own amputated leg. Chopin’s heart is carried back to Warsaw in secret by his adoring sister. A woman must return to her native Poland in order to poison her terminally ill high school sweetheart, and a young man slowly descends into madness when his wife and child mysteriously vanish during a vacation and just as suddenly reappear. Through these brilliantly imagined characters and stories, interwoven with haunting, playful, and revelatory meditations, Flights explores what it means to be a traveler, a wanderer, a body in motion not only through space but through time. Where are you from? Where are you coming in from? Where are you going? we call to the traveler. Enchanting, unsettling, and wholly original, Flights is a master storyteller’s answer.


Transnational Literature Series at Brookline Booksmith Presents: Dubravka Ugrešić and American Fictionary

Dubravka Ugrešić will be in conversation with translator Ellen Elias-Bursać as part of the Transnational Literature Series. For more information, please contact series curator Shuchi Saraswat at shuchi@brooklinebooksmith.com.

Dubravka Ugrešic was born in the former Yugoslavia (Croatia). She is a novelist, essayist, and literary scholar and the author of seven works of fiction and six collections of essays. She has won, or been shorlisted for, more than a dozen prizes, including the NIN Award, Austrian State Prize for European Literature, Heinrich Mann Prize, Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, Man Booker International Prize, and the James Tiptoe Jr. Award. In 2016, she received the Neustadt International Prize for Literature (the “American Nobel”) for her body of work. Ellen Elias-Bursać is an American scholar and literary translator. Specializing in South Slavic literature, she has translated numerous works from Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian.

About the book: 

Winner of the 2016 Neustadt International Prize for Literature

In the midst of the Yugoslav wars of the early 1990s, Dubravka Ugresic—winner of the 2016 Neustadt International Prize for Literature—was invited to Middletown, Connecticut, as a guest lecturer. A world away from the brutal sieges of Sarajevo and the nationalist rhetoric of Miloševic, she instead has to cope with everyday life in America, where she’s assaulted by “strong personalities,” the cult of the body, endless amounts of jogging and exercise, bagels, and an obsession with public confession.

Organized as a fictional dictionary, these early essays of Ugresic’s (revised and amended for this edition) are as pertinent to today’s America as when they were first published. It’s here, in these pieces filled with Ugresic’s unparalleled wit and devastating observations, that the comforting veil of Western consumerism is ripped apart as the mundane luxuries of the average citizen are contrasted with the life of a woman whose country is being destroyed.

Translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth & Ellen Elias-Bursać.


Transnational Series: Sigrún Pálsdóttir in conversation with translator Lytton Smith at Brookline Booksmith

Sigrún Pálsdóttir will be in conversation with Lytton Smith, the translator of her novel History. A Mess. This event is part of our Transnational Literature Series. For more information contact Shuchi Saraswat at shuchi@brooklinebooksmith.com.

While studying a seventeenth-century diary, the protagonist of History. A Mess. uncovers information about the first documented professional female artist. This discovery promises to change her academic career, and life in general … until she realizes that her “discovery” was nothing more than two pages stuck together. At this point there’s no going back though, and she goes to great lengths to hide her mistake–undermining her sanity in the process. A shifty, satirical novel that’s funny and colorful, while also raising essential questions about truth, research, and the very nature of belief.

Sigrún Pálsdóttir completed a PhD in the History of Ideas at the University Oxford in 2001, after which she was a research fellow and lecturer at the University of Iceland. She worked as the editor of Saga, the principal peer-reviewed journal for Icelandic history, from 2008 to 2016. Her previous titles include the historical biography Thora. A Bishop’s Daughter and Uncertain Seas, a story of a young couple and their three children who were killed when sailing from New York to Iceland aboard a ship torpedoed by a German submarine in 1944. Sigrún’s work has been nominated for the Icelandic Literary Prize, Icelandic Women’s Literature Prize, HagÞenkir Non-fiction Prize, and the DV Culture Prize. Uncertain Seas was chosen the best biography in 2013 by booksellers in Iceland.

About the Translator:

Lytton Smith is a poet, professor, and translator from the Icelandic. His most recent translations include works by Kristín Ómarsdóttir, Jón Gnarr, Ófeigur Sigurðsson, Bragi Ólafsson, and Guðbergur Bergsson. His most recent poetry collection, The All-Purpose Magical Tent, was published by Nightboat. Having earned his MFA and PhD from Columbia University, he currently teaches at SUNY Geneseo.


Transnational Series: Jennifer Croft in conversation with Nina MacLaughlin at Brookline Booksmith

The coming of age story of an award-winning translator, HOMESICK is about learning to love language in its many forms, healing through words and the promises and perils of empathy and sisterhood.

Sisters Amy and Zoe grow up in Oklahoma where they are homeschooled for an unexpected reason: Zoe suffers from debilitating and mysterious seizures, spending her childhood in hospitals as she undergoes surgeries. Meanwhile, Amy flourishes intellectually, showing an innate ability to glean a world beyond the troubles in her home life, exploring that world through languages first. Amy’s first love appears in the form of her Russian tutor Sasha, but when she enters university at the age of 15 her life changes drastically and with tragic results.

Jennifer Croft was awarded the Man Booker International Prize in 2018 for her translation from Polish of Olga Tokarczuk’s FLIGHTS. She is the recipient of Fulbright, PEN, MacDowell, and National Endowment for the Arts grants and fellowships, as well as the inaugural Michael Henry Heim Prize for Translation and a Tin House Workshop Scholarship for her memoir HOMESICK. She holds a PhD from Northwestern University and an MFA from the University of Iowa. She is a founding editor of The Buenos Aires Review and has published her own work and numerous translations in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Review of Books, VICE, The Chicago Tribune, and elsewhere. Originally from Oklahoma, she currently divides her time between Buenos Aires and Los Angeles.

Nina MacLaughlin lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she works as a carpenter. Formerly an editor at the Boston Phoenix, she has written for the BelieverBookslut, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere.


Transnational Series: Naja Marie Aidt in conversation with Valeria Luiselli at Brookline Booksmith

Naja Marie Aidt will discuss her memoir ‘When Death Takes Something From You Give It Back: Carl’s Book” with Valeria Luiselli. This event is part of Brookline Booksmith’s Transnational Series which focuses on books concerned with themes of migration as well as works in translation. For more information contact series director Shuchi at shuchi@brooklinebooksmith.com

“There is no one quite like Naja Marie Aidt. She’s comparable only to things like sequoias, whale-song, desert thunderstorms, or wolves. The depth of her emotional world and the diaphanous, often brutal clarity with which she understands the human soul beckon us to pause, breathe, think. Here, she takes us on a journey into death and loss, and then thrusts us back out – back into life – more awake, more ready to embrace it as it comes.” – Valeria Luiselli

In March 2015, Naja Marie Aidt’s twenty-five-year-old son, Carl, died in a tragic accident. When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back chronicles the few first years after that devastating phone call. It is at once a sober account of life after losing a child and an exploration of the language of poetry, loss, and love.

Translated from the Danish by Denise Newman, the intensely moving When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back explores what is it to be a family, what it is to love and lose, and what it is to treasure life in spite of death’s indomitable resolve.

-Naja Marie Aidt was born in Greenland and raised in Cophenhagen. She is the author of twelve collections of poetry, a novel, and three short story collections, including Baboon, which won the 2008 Nordic Council Literature Prize.

-Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City and grew up in South Korea, South Africa and India. An acclaimed writer of both fiction and nonfiction, she is the author of the essay collection Sidewalks; the novels Faces in the Crowd and The Story of My Teeth; the nonfiction work Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions, and most recently, Lost Children Archive. She is the winner of two Los Angeles Times Book Prizes and an American Book Award, and has twice been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Kirkus Prize. Her work has been translated into more than twenty languages. She lives in New York City.

 


Transnational Series: Translating Silvina Ocampo at Brookline Booksmith

“Of all the words that could define her, the most accurate is, I think, ingenious.“—Jorge Luis Borges

“I don’t know of another writer who better captures the magic inside everyday rituals, the forbidden or hidden face that our mirrors don’t show us.“—Italo Calvino

“Silvina Ocampo’s prose is made of elegant pleasures and delicate terrors. Her stories take place in a liquid, viscous reality, where innocence quietly bleeds into cruelty, and the mundane seeps, unnoticed, into the bizarre. Revered by some of the masters of fantastic literature, such as Italo Calvino and Jorge Luis Borges, Ocampo is beyond great—she is necessary.“—Hernan Diaz, author of In the Distance and Associate Director of the Hispanic Institute at Columbia University

“Like William Blake, Ocampo’s first voice was that of a visual artist; in her writing she retains the will to unveil immaterial so that we might at least look at it if not touch it.“—Helen Oyeyemi, author of Gingerbread

Three translators of Silvina Ocampo’s work come together to discuss their recent translations of her fiction: Ocampo’s first work of fiction, a collection of short stories, and her last, a novella Ocampo spent twenty-five years perfecting.

With Forgotten Journey, Silvina Ocampo’s first book of stories and her fiction debut, the poet initiated a personal, idiosyncratic exploration of the politics of memory, a theme to which she would return again and again over the course of her unconventional life and productive career. Forgotten Journey takes its title from the story of a girl who struggles to recall the events of her birth in order to remember her identity. Another story follows a friendship between two girls, one poor and one wealthy, who grow up to appear identical to one another, enabling them to trade lives and families. In “The Enmity of Things,” a young man begins to suspect that his mundane possessions are conspiring against him. When he flees to his rural childhood home, the silent countryside proves only more sinister and mysterious.

The Promise showcases Silvina Ocampo at her most feminist, idiosyncratic and subversive. Ocampo worked quietly to perfect this novella over the course of twenty-five years, nearly up until the time of her death in 1993. The narrator’s conflicted memory, as well as the intrusion of memories that are not her own, illustrate Ocampo’s struggle with dementia in the last years of her life, and much like the author herself, here we find a narrator writing “against a world of conventional ideas.”

About the translators:

Suzanne Jill Levine is General Editor of Penguin’s paperback classics of Jorge Luis Borges’ poetry and essays, and a noted translator of Latin American prose and poetry by distinguished writers such as Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Julio Cortázar, Carlos Fuentes, Jose Donoso, Manuel Puig, Severo Sarduy and Adolfo Bioy Casares. Director of Translation Studies at UCSB, Levine is author of several books including The Subversive Scribe: Translating Latin American Fiction, Manuel Puig and the Spiderwoman: His Life and Fictions. Her most recent published translation is Cristina Rivera Garza’s The Taiga Syndrome (The Dorothy Project, 2018).

Jessica Powell has published dozens of translations of literary works by a wide variety of Latin American writers. She was the recipient of a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship in support of her translation of Antonio Benítez Rojo’s novel, Woman in Battle Dress(City Lights, 2015), which was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Translation. Her translation of Wicked Weeds by Pedro Cabiya (Mandel Vilar Press, 2016), was named a finalist for the 2017 Best Translated Book Award and made the longlist for the 2017 National Translation Award. Her translation of Pablo Neruda’s book-length poem, venture of the infinite man, was published by City Lights Books in October 2017. Her most recent translation, of Edna Iturralde’s award-winning book, Green Was My Forest, was published by Mandel Vilar Press in September, 2018.

Katie Lateef-Jan is a PhD Candidate at the University of California, Santa Barbara in Comparative Literature with a doctoral emphasis in Translation Studies. Her research focuses on twentieth-century Latin American literature, specifically Argentine fantastic fiction. She is the co-editor with Suzanne Jill Levine of Untranslatability Goes Global: The Translator’s Dilemma (2018). Her translations from the Spanish have appeared in Granta; Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas; and ZYZZYVA.


Transnational Series presents: John Freeman in conversation at Brookline Booksmith Used Book Cellar

John Freeman in conversation with Krysten Hill

Dictionary of the Undoing

This event is co-sponsored by GrubStreet, one of the nation’s leading non-profit creative writing centers.

For John Freeman—literary critic, essayist, editor, poet, “one of the preeminent book people of our time” (Dave Eggers)—it is the rare moment when words are not enough. But in the wake of the election of 2016, words felt useless, even indulgent. Action was the only reasonable response. He took to the streets in protest, and the sense of community and collective conviction felt right. But the assaults continued—on citizens’ rights and long-held compacts, on the core principles of our culture and civilization, and on our language itself. Words seemed to be losing the meanings they once had and Freeman was compelled to return to their defense. The result is his Dictionary of the Undoing.

From A to Z, “Agitate” to “Zygote,” Freeman assembled the words that felt most essential, most potent, and began to build a case for their renewed power and authority, each word building on the last. The message that emerged was not to retreat behind books, but to emphatically engage in the public sphere, to redefine what it means to be a literary citizen.

With an afterword by Valeria Luiselli, Dictionary of the Undoing is a necessary, resounding cri de coeur in defense of language, meaning, and our ability to imagine, describe, and build a better world.

John Freeman is the editor of Freeman’s, a literary annual of new writing. His books include How to Read a Novelist and The Tyranny of E-mail, as well as Tales of Two Americas, an anthology of new writing about inequality in the U.S. today. Maps, his debut collection of poems, was published in 2017. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, andThe New York Times. The former editor of Granta and one-time president of the National Book Critics Circle, he is currently Artist-in-Residence at New York University.

Krysten Hill received her MFA in poetry from UMass Boston where she currently teaches. Her work can be found in apt, B O D Y, Boiler Magazine, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Word Riot, Muzzle, PANK, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Winter Tangerine Review and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the 2016 St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award. Her chapbook, How Her Spirit Got Out, received the 2017 Jean Pedrick Chapbook Prize.


Transnational Series Presents: Idra Novey in conversation at Brookline Booksmith Used Book Cellar

Idra Novey in conversation with Laura van den Berg

Those Who Knew

Award-winning novelist, poet, and translator Idra Novey’s highly acclaimed Those Who Knew explores the consequences of abuse and the public exposure of abuse in the deep and truthful way only fiction can. “Gripping and astute,” Lauren Collins-Hughes wrote in her rave review for The Boston Globe, “a destabilizing, almost hallucinatory unreality wisps through Those Who Knew…but this is a hopeful novel, too.”

Those Who Knew conjures a modern-day fable that shows how profoundly public politics and private violence can contradict each other. This groundbreaking novel explores the forces—both personal and structural—that conspire in such confounding ways to let abuses of power flourish in our homes, businesses, and governments. It is a novel about our human capability for hypocrisy and monstrous acts, but also for resilience. A New York Times Editors’ Choice, Indie Next Pick and Best Book of the Year with over dozen media outlets, Pulitzer finalist Laila Lalami described it for NPR’s Best Books of 2018 as “a completely riveting…timeless novel about sex and power.”

Idra Novey is the author of the novels Those Who Knew and Ways to Disappear. She received the 2017 Sami Rohr Prize, the 2016 Brooklyn Public Library Prize and was a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize for First Fiction. Her work has been translated into twelve languages and she is the recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Poets & Writ­ers Mag­a­zine, and the PEN Translation Fund. She has translated the work of several prominent Brazilian writers, most recently Clarice Lispector’s novel The Pas­sion Accord­ing to G.H. She teaches fiction at Princeton University.

Laura van den Berg’s most recent novel, The Third Hotel, was named a best book of 2018 by over a dozen publications and was a finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award. She is also the author of one previous novel, Find Me, and two story collections. Her honors include the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, the Bard Fiction Prize, and an O. Henry Award. Laura lives in Cambridge, MA, with her husband and dog, and is a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Fiction at Harvard. Her next story collection, I Hold a Wolf by the Ears, is forthcoming from FSG in 2020.


Transnational Film Series & Boston Palestine Film Festival Screening: Gaza: A Documentary at Museum of Fine Arts Boston

At Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Remis Auditorium

Our Transnational Literature Series further explores migration, exile, and displacement through foreign film. This screening of Gaza: A Documentary is part of the Boston Palestine Film Festival.

A small coastal strip that measures just twenty-five miles by six, Gaza is home to almost two million people who have lived under siege since 2007. This elegantly shot and masterfully crafted portrait of Palestinian life offers a rare chance to be fully immersed in the heart of today’s Gaza, as we go behind the walls to meet some of the real, resilient Palestinians living there.

Post screening discussion with Ahmed Mansour (Gaza native and director, Brooklyn, Inshallah!)

Tickets required. Transnational Series attendees receive a special discount. Use code FILM to receive $3 off the ticket price.


Transnational Series Presents: Reimagining the Epics with Karthika Nair and Nina MacLaughlin at Brookline Booksmith Used Book Cellar

Reimagining the Epics with Karthika Nair and Nina MacLaughlin

Until the Lions: Echoes from the Mahabharata

Wake, Siren: Ovid Resung

In Until the Lions: Echoes from the Mahabharata, Karthika Naïr retells the Mahabharata through the embodied voices of women and marginal characters, so often conquered and destroyed throughout history. Through shifting poetic forms, ranging from pantoums to Petrarchan sonnets, Naïr choreographs the cadences of stray voices. And with a passionate empathy through a chorus of bold voices, she tells of nameless soldiers, their despairing spouses and lovers, a canny empress, an all-powerful god, and a gender-shifting outcast warrior. Until the Lions reveals the most intimate threads of desire, greed, and sacrifice in this foundational epic.

French-Indian, poet-dance producer/curator, Karthika Naïr is the author of several books, including The Honey Hunter, illustrated by Joëlle Jolivet and published in English, French, German and Bangla. Until the Lions: Echoes from the Mahabharata won the 2015 Tata Literature Live! Award for Book of the Year (Fiction). Her latest book is the collaborative Over and Under Ground in Mumbai & Paris, a travelogue in verse, written with Mumbai-based poet Sampurna Chattarji, and illustrated by Joëlle Jolivet and Roshni Vyam.


Seductresses and she-monsters, nymphs and demi-goddesses, populate the famous myths of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. But what happens when the story of the chase comes in the voice of the woman fleeing her rape? When the beloved coolly returns the seducer’s gaze? When tales of monstrous transfiguration are sung by those transformed? In voices both mythic and modern, Wake, Siren revisits each account of love, loss, rape, revenge, and change. It lays bare the violence that undergirds and lurks in the heart of Ovid’s narratives, stories that helped build and perpetuate the distorted portrayal of women across centuries of art and literature.

Drawing on the rhythms of epic poetry and alt rock, of everyday speech and folk song, of fireside whisperings and therapy sessions, Nina MacLaughlin, the acclaimed author of Hammer Head, recovers what is lost when the stories of women are told and translated by men. She breathes new life into these fraught and well-loved myths.

Nina MacLaughlin is the author of the acclaimed memoir Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter. Formerly an editor at The Boston Phoenix, she is a books columnist for The Boston Globe and has written for publications including The Paris Review DailyThe Believer, the Los Angeles Review of BooksThe Wall Street JournalBookslutThe Daily BeastCosmopolitan, and The Huffington Post. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.