AUDIO: Ben Paloff on The Game for Real by Richard Weiner

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photo by Sarah Coolidge

We were very pleased to welcome Ben Paloff to Diesel, A Bookstore in Oakland, CA, where he read from and discussed his translation of The Game for Real by Richard Weiner, just out from Two Lines Press. In addition to reading several pages of his translation, Ben talked about his research interests with Weiner, Weiner’s experiences on the front lines of World War I, his thoughts on Proust, and what it was like translating The Game for Real.


Table of Contents

0:00 Introductions

2:18 CJ Evans on Two Lines Press and The Game for Real by Richard Weiner

7:16 Intro to Benjamin Paloff

10:18 Benjamin Paloff reading The Game for Real

21:10 The roots of Ben’s interest in Richard Weiner

26:44 Weiner’s experiences during World War I and the literature that came of it

30:55 Weiner’s feelings on Proust, his long essay on Proust, and similarities between Weiner’s and Proust’s writing

38:00 Ben’s challenges translating Weiner, and how he handled “Weinerisms”

42:14 Weinerisms that have made it into Czech, and the trajectory of Weiner’s literature after World War II

49:50 How the two halves of The Game for Real entwine

53:45 Ben’s thoughts on Translating humor

59:45 The pleasures of translating Weiner

1:05:14 Lexican oddities in Weiner’s prose

1:06:55 “Losing himself” in the act of translation

1:13:30 Origins of the name “Giggles” in translation of The Game for Real and Weiner’s relationship to the Surrealists

AUDIO: Mario Bellatín, David Shook, and Zsuzsanna Szurka on Jacob the Mutant

bellatin02We were delighted to join Mario Bellatín, David Shook, and Zsuzsanna Szurka at Green Apple Books on the Park in San Francisco, CA, to discuss Bellatín’s latest book to appear in English, Jacob the Mutant, translated by Jacob Steinberg and published by Phoneme Media. David Shook is the publisher of Jacob the Mutant (as well as the translator of Bellatín’s Shiki Nagaoka: A Nose for Fiction) and Zsuzsanna Szurka is an artistic collaborator with Bellatín who created illustrations for the English-language edition of Jacob the Mutant, as well as future books of Bellatín’s.

The conversation ranged widely, from the mutations and enlargements purposely introduced into Jacob the Mutant during that book’s translation into English to the origins of Bellatín’s character Shiki Nagaoka, his thoughts on César Aira, and performance art he has arranged in various places, including academic conferences. Shook discussed his role as translator and publisher of Bellatín (in addition to serving as interpreter) and Szurka discussed how she renders Bellatín’s exceedingly complex frameworks as illustrated “maps” to his books.


Table of Contents

0:00 Introductions

4:45 David Shook’s reasons for being drawn to Mario Bellatín’s books, and why he has wanted to work with him

6:40 The orgins of Mario’s character, Shiki Nagaoka

9:00 How Mario describes the form his books take, and how Jacob the Mutant has changed as it has been translated into English

16:40 The maps that have been created for the English-language translation of Jacob the Mutant

19:45 The role of the intuitive in Mario’s work

22:00 The role of beginnings, endings, and transformations in Mario’s work, and how Mario works with contradiction to keep his books open-ended

27:30 Los Cien Mil Libros de Bellatín

31:35 How the ideas implicit in Mario’s work influence David as his publisher

33:30 Zsuzsanna’s favorite books of Bellatín’s and the ones she most likes to interact with

35:50 David’s translation of a book Mario has not yet written

40:25 Why Mario’s creativity works by building off of other things

44:20 How Mario’s distinctive work influences the translators David chooses to bring in on his books

47:10 Mario’s performance art vis a vis his books

1:00:00 Mario’s feelings on César Aira

AUDIO: Daniel Balderstone Discusses Silvina Ocampo

Silvina-tomado-por-Bioy-Casares-en-Posadas-1959Last week we were joined in the Two Lines Press offices by translator Daniel Balderston to discuss his translation of Silvina Ocampo’s short fiction, Thus Were Their Faces, published earlier this year by NYRB Classics.

Although underappreciated in her time, Ocampo was lauded by the elite of Argentine letters, among them: Borges, Bioy, Manuel Puig, Alejandra Pizarnik, and Julio Cortázar, and she has also been praised by Italo Calvino, Alberto Manguel, and Errique Vila-Matas. In this wide-ranging discussion, we talk about Daniel’s personal encounters with Ocampo, her life and work, the reasons for her neglect and the renewed interest in recent years, translation challenges of Ocampo’s prose, her poetry, and what comes next for this master.

Below you will find the complete audio of this event, plus a table of contents for the conversation.


0:00 Introductions

1:24: Daniel’s history with Silvina Ocampo and Argentina during the era of Bioy, Borges, and Ocampo

9:22 The details of Ocampo’s neglect during her life in Argentina, and the huge expansion of interest after her death

15:10 How the word “cruel” relates to Ocampo’s work and why people like to call her work “cruel”

18:50 The strangeness of the child narrators in Ocampo’s stories and preponderance of strange deaths (often narrated in a “light” way)

20:20 The element of the fantastic in Ocampo’s work

22:05 What distinguishes Ocampo’s fantastic literature from that of Borges and Bioy, and the relationship of Ocampo’s Irene to Borges’s Funes the Memorious

26:25 The fortune that Ocampo read for Daniel

27:15 The reasons Ocampo was overlooked during her lifetime

30:15 Ocampo’s relationship to Alejandra Pizarnik: influence on one another’s writing and their love affair

32:20 Ocampo’s ability to write about horror in a deadpan way and its influence on Pizarnik

34:40 The question of femininity and femininism in Ocampo’s writing

37:25 The selection criteria for the NYRB Classics volume

42:30 Bioy’s impact on Ocampo’s writing and revisions of her work

43:50 What untranslated books by Ocampo would you like to see translated into English?

45:50 The question of madness in Ocampo’s works

47:05 Challenges to translating Ocampo, in particular with regards to Ocampo’s use of gender, and the most difficult-to-translate sentence in the entire collection

52:15 Ocampo as a poet

56:40 William Carlos Williams as a translator of Ocampo’s poetry

1:01:10 Q & A

Our Basement Is Full — You Win!

Every small press reaches that point when hopes and dreams end up as piles and piles of amazing printed matter collecting in one’s basement.

For you, dear consumer, this is a victory.

We’ve created a small visual to help better get across this point:

2015-spring-win

What this means in practice is as follows:

Subscribe to our 2015 list right now, and you not only get 3 books + 2 journals—you ALSO get

  • a hand-printed erasure/mutation/translation broadsheet,
  • plus a copy of The Fata Morgana Books by Jonthan Littell, lauded as icy, precise, sexual, perverse, provocative, and lots and lots of fun by BOMB, The New Yorker, Publishers Weekly, The Collagist, and many, many more
  • AND—AAAANNNNNDDD: plus plus plus a copy of All My Friends by Marie NDiaye, which got a starred review in Publishers Weekly and whose Self-Portrait in Green is currently tearing up venues such as the Times Literary Supplement and Asymptote

To access this amazing offer, simply click this link!

No, really: click it!

And if you live outside of the U.S., click here.

Alas, as you may have already guessed by now, we are indeed crazy, but there are still limits to our derangement. Thus, we can only offer you this deal through the end of May 2015.

Act now!

And read on below for details of the amazingness right at your fingertips for just $40.

Details on the amazingness at your fingertips:

When you subscribe you will instantly receive The Fata Morgana Books and All My Friends, plus Issue 22 of Two Lines, featuring writing by Oulipian Michelle Grangaud (translated by Daniel Levin Becker), an essay by Lydia Davis, writing from Yuri Herrera, and a translation by a woman named Death.

You will also receive The Game for Real by Richard Weiner, which has given rise to such statements as:

  • “For me, the pinnacles of prose are Hašek, Kafka, Weiner, Klima.” — Bohumil Hrabal, author of Harlequin’s Millions
  • “The crowning achievement of Richard Weiner’s career and one of the most powerful works of Czech Modernist literature.” — PEN America
  • “Kafka fans: you must—I repeat, you must—get hold of Richard Weiner’s The Game for Real” — @proustitute
  • “Weiner’s obsession with guilt and shame, contempt and defiance, power and cruelty, aligns him as much with Kafka as with his coterie of French Surrealists.” — Vertigo
  • “He really is a kind of European mind, that brings in the experience of trench warfare in Serbia, of cafés of a provincial capital of the Hapsburg Empire and a close connection with the Parisian avant-garde, as well as just the fact that his stories are just so enjoyable to read.” — Radio Prague

Then, toward the end of the summer you will receive The Sleep of the Righteous by Wolfgang Hilbig (introduced by some guy named Laszlo Krasznahorkai), which we recently described thus:

“In October we’re going to do an amazing book called The Sleep of the Righteous by an East German author, Wolfgang Hilbig. Laszlo Krasnahorkai is a fan of his and wrote an intro to the book for us. His sentences are just beautiful (thank you Isabel Fargo Cole for an amazing translation!) and they have this very intense, cumulative energy that relies a lot on repetition and cadence, in a way reminiscent of Krasnahorkai and Thomas Bernhard. The form of The Sleep of the Righteous is a little like My Documents by Alejandro Zambra or Hypothermia by Álvaro Enrigue or even Calvino’s Cosmicomics, where you could either see it as a collection of stories with the same narrative mind or pieces of a fragmentary, postmodern novel. It’s all about this figure’s transition from Germany’s East to West throughout the period of the 1960s to 1990s. He’s growing up at the same time he’s moving westward, and he takes us from this gritty, provincial postwar youth to this escape to the West. It’s very moody and impressionistic and just a tiny bit allegorical; I keep comparing it to Tarkovsky’s Stalker.”

And then you will at last get Issue 23 of Two Lines, plus The Boys by Toni Sala, which just won Catalonia’s biggest literary prize and which features shotguns, whores, and face transplants.

AUDIO: Horacio Castellanos Moya and Katie Silver in Conversation with Michael Holtmann on The Dream of My Return

horacio-castellanos-moya1We were very pleased to bring author Horacio Castellanos Moya and his translator Katherine Silver to The Make-Out Room in San Francisco, CA, to discuss his latest book, The Dream of My Return, with Center for the Art of Translation Executive Director Michael Holtmann. The Dream of My Return has been lauded as “easily [Castellanos Moya’s] best to appear in English so far” by The New York Times, and it follows the story of an exile who longs to return to El Salvador at the end of the nation’s brutal 12-year civil war.

Below you’ll find full audio of this event and table of contents to guide you through it.


Table of Contents

2:00 Introductions

4:35 Bilingual readings

21:40 The origins of the names in The Dream of My Return, particularly the main character, Erasmo

26:35 What’s it’s like for Castellanos Moya to write his sentences

29:50 The experience of translating Castellanos Moya’s sentences

33:00 Psychoanalysis in The Dream of My Return

36:00 The political context of the book and Castellanos Moya’s brand of “political” writing

48:30 Machismo in The Dream of My Return

54:00 Q & A

5/29: The Game for Real Launch at Diesel Books [EVENT]

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Bay Area! Are you ready to get real? Are you ready for The Game for Real???

We are bringing you the amazing Benjamin Paloff to the glorious Diesel Books in Oakland, CA, to talk about and read from Two Lines Press’s The Game for Real by Richard Weiner. Please join us for some of the most ridiculously amazing Czech prose you have ever heard and many, many alcoholic beverages, all in one of the best bookstores the East Bay has to offer. These are the details:

  • The Game for Real Launch event
  • Diesel Books
  • 5433 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618
  • 7:30 pm
  • FREE

The Game for Real is the first of Richard Weiner’s books to ever be translated into English. Called “The Man of Pain” by the sci-fi author Karel Čapek (who popularized the word robot), Richard Weiner is one of European literature’s best-kept secrets. Often compared to both Robert Walser and Kafka, Weiner was a modernist who wrote with the Surrealists, and he did most of his writing in between World War I and World War II in Paris.

He was the first Eastern European writer ever to discuss World War I in a novel, and he was also one of the first-ever readers of Proust, reviewing each of the volumes for the prestigious Czech magazine Lidové noviny, long before they were translated into Czech. In the Czech Republic Weiner is widely considered a classic author, and, although he was neglected during the reign of Communism in the Eastern Bloc, his presence has steadily grown since the fall of Communism in 1989.

PEN America has called The Game for Real, “the crowning achievement of Richard Weiner’s career and one of the most powerful works of Czech Modernist literature,” and it has lauded Benjamin’s translation “masterful.”

Please join us for what promises to be an amazing event! Get real with us!!!

5/18: Mario Bellatín and David Shook in Conversation with Scott Esposito

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On Monday, March 18, join us at Green Apple Books on the Park as we present Mario Bellatín and his publisher, David Shook (of Phoneme Media). They’ll be in conversation with Two Lines Press’s own Scott Esposito, discussing Bellatín’s many fascinating projects, as well as Jacob the Mutant, which has just published from Phoneme Media in Jacob Steinberg’s translation.

Here are the details:

  • Monday, May 18
  • Green Apple Books on the Park
  • 1231 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122
  • 7:30 pm
  • Mario Bellatín and David Shook in conversation with Scott Esposito
  • FREE

Jacob the Mutant is conceived of as a set of fragmentary manuscripts from an unpublished Joseph Roth novel. As Heather Clearly writes in Music & Literature, “Bellatin poses as a literary scholar who unearths a lost Joseph Roth manuscript.” She continues:

Jacob the Mutant opens with a lengthy quotation from the text mentioned above, supposedly Roth’s unfinished novel The Border (an apt title given the role these demarcations play in assigning new and often precarious categories of being to those who cross them). As this first section progresses, the prose shifts constantly between this “found” material, a secondhand account of the recovered manuscript, and exegetic commentary on the text.

In addition to Jacob the Mutant, Bellatín’s other projects include Los Cien Mil Libros de Bellatín, the author’s own imprint dedicated to publishing 1,000 copies each of 100 of his books. Phoneme Media’s other books include Bellatín’s previous novel Shiki Nagaoka: A Nose for Fiction (translated by David Shook), as well as other titles translated from Portuguese, Uyghur, and Russian.

AUDIO: Yuri Herrera in Conversation with Daniel Alarcón

yuriOn April 13, 2015, Two Voices hosted Yuri Herrera and Daniel Alarcón in conversation at Green Apple Books on the Park in San Francisco. They were there to discuss Herrera’s first-ever book in English, Signs Preceding the End of the World, translated by Lisa Dillman and published by And Other Stories. Called “Mexico’s greatest novelist” by Francisco Goldman, Herrera here crafts a dazzling tale of border crossings and translations people make in their minds and language as they move from one country to another, especially when there’s no going back.


Table of Contents

0:00 Introductions

5:00 Yuri Herrera discusses his early novels and the publication of Signs

7:40 Herrera and Daniel Alarcón read from Signs in Spanish and in English

31:00 The role of pre-Hispanic myths in informing and shaping Signs

36:00 Herrera’s experiences with seeing the border culture and its influence on the book

38:00 How Herrera came to create the book’s protagonist, Makina

40:30 How Signs might impact the conversation around immigration, and how books in general could impact the debate

43:00 Herrera’s experiences working the his translator, Lisa Dillman, and translation questions involving specific word choices in Signs

51:00 Audience Q & A

5/14: Two Voices Salon with Daniel Balderston on Silvina Ocampo [EVENT]

balderstonSilvina-tomado-por-Bioy-Casares-en-Posadas-1959

On May 14, we are very proud to host (via Skype) translator Daniel Balderston to discuss his amazing work with one of Argentina’s most venerated authors, Silvina Ocampo.

Wife to Adolfo Bioy Casares, sister of Victoria Ocampo (publisher of the mega-influential journal Sur), and friend of the great Jorge Luis Borges, Silvina was a master of the poem and the short story. She received many of Argentina’s most prestigious awards, as well as the acclaim of Alejandra Pizarnik, Julio Cortázar, and Italo Calvino, who said no other writer “better captures the magic inside everyday rituals, the forbidden or hidden face that our mirrors don’t show us.”

A career-spanning collection of her prose, Thus Were Their Faces, was published earlier this year in Balderston’s translation, alongside a collection of her poetry (also from NYRB Classics).

Join us on Thursday, May 14, to discuss one of Argentina’s most visionary and enigmatic authors.

  • May 14, 2015
  • Doors 5:30 pm, event at 6:00 pm
  • Two Lines Press offices, 582 Market St, Suite 700 SF, CA 94104
  • Free alcoholic (& non-alcoholic) drinks and snacks
  • FREE

Silvina Ocampo (1903–1993) first studied painting with Giorgio de Chirico and Fernand Léger in Paris before returning to Buenos Aires to write. The first of Ocampo’s seven collections of stories, Viaje olvidado (Forgotten Journey), appeared in 1937; the first of her seven volumes of poems, Enumeración de la patria (Enumeration of My Country) in 1942. She was also a prolific translator—including of Dickinson, Poe, Melville, and Swedenborg—and wrote plays and tales for children.

Daniel Balderston is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Modern Languages at the University of Pittsburgh, where he chairs the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures and directs the Borges Center. He is currently completing his seventh book on Borges, titled How Borges Wrote. He has edited numerous books, including Voice-Overs: Translation and Latin American Literature, and has also translated books by José Bianco, Juan Carlos Onetti, Sylvia Molloy, and Ricardo Piglia.