The annual Festival Neue Literatur has announced the featured authors for this year’s festivities. Every February in New York City, the festival brings together six writers hailing from Austria, Switzerland, and Germany with the intent of offering interesting discussions and readings along with enhancing the visibility of these contemporary writers to an American market. With our dearth of foreign novels in this country, FNL can be an exciting time to learn about new authors.
This year’s events take place during 22-24 February and all are free and open to the public (however, a couple do require an emailed RSVP, so check the website for details). These events have filled up in the past; last year, most notably was NYU Deutsches Haus’ brunch. I heard they had to turn people away because there was no room.
Events are held all around the city. For the complete listings, check their website. You can also find information on the authors, moderators & curators, sample translated texts and more. Enjoy!
While on a recent trip to Austria, I grabbed a copy of Amor Towles’ The Rules of Civility. My brain was a bit fried from so much German, that I popped into an international bookshop with not much of an idea of what I would find. I perused the shelves and didn’t really see anything until I came upon it. I remembered the title from a then-recent post over at Literary Man. So, I snapped it up and was happy to have a new book to read as I next traveled to Berlin.
It is more than an ode to New York. The main character is the 25-year-old native New Yorker, Katey Kontent, who on New Years Eve in 1937, meets the enticing Tinker Grey. What comes is the next year of Katey’s life as she moves around the city with new jobs and new friends. The dialogue is snappy and the author makes sure to add an authenticity to the story by dappling the text with vogue establishments and trends of the time. One of my favorite lines was,
“Doesn’t New York just turn you inside out.”
It is repeated a few times and that is exactly was happens throughout the novel. The Rules of Civility was a real page turner and great relief to my brain which has been thinking German for too long. I popped in to a bookshop today with an international section. I won’t reveal what the novel is yet but it is British and it’s incredibly addicting.
post script Many apologies for my horrid grammar and syntax; I’ve been losing my language skills recently but this book is a must read!
A few months ago, I was asked if I would write a story to be included in an Austrian anthology. I was very honored but I told the editor that I could only write a story in English; I can translate from German but not write the other way. I was told that this would not be a problem at all and a translator would be secured for me. I was excited but then after the initial blush of being asked to be a part of this lovely collection, my fears started to set in.
Some of you might remember my first round of literary translation (we had a joint project where we both translated each other. We had no choice in picking each other and we were strangers before meeting). Granted, I wrote more about my experience translating her story, but she surely drove me nuts all around. Although, I have let it roll off my back, I am still unhappy with the way my short story turned out.
I thought about it and then quickly asked if I could find my own translator. No problem! A young writer friend of mine in Germany has taken up the task. I didn’t know if he had ever translated before but I had read some of his poetry. I was more concerned with him being a great writer because I believe that in order to be a fantastic translator, one must also be a fantastic writer.
My story for the anthology is short–about 1,600 words–and my friend has about a month to translate it. I have already received the first page in German. He had only a few questions and one or two slight misunderstandings, but I am over-the-moon. It has been such a relief knowing my story is in the right hands. Having your work represented in an unoriginal state could make one feel as if a pale facsimile is being produced (which can happen) but I hope that the German translation can become his own. I am very excited to see the entire project once it is completed.