Presenting: The 2015 Erasure


Friends and colleagues of Two Lines Press!

Back in fall of last year, we were thinking of ways to let our subscribers know that they had chosen to support a press that champions really exceptional, forward-looking, just plain incredible translations. We wanted to make a beautiful, fascinating gift to give to each of you.

At right about the same time, we were in the middle of planning this Edouard Levé event with translators Lorin Stein and Jan Stein.

At some point it hit us: Levé was exactly the kind of author to get this point across. The answer was simple: let’s do something with Levé, involving the man who recommended that he be translated, and who, in fact, has translated the most of him into English: Jan Steyn.

Unfortunately, things turned out to not be so simple. Because of copyright difficulties, working with Levé’s texts was out. But we still had Jan.

And the fact is, that Jan also perfectly embodied our hopes for this project. He is a fierce champion of innovative writing, he knows a hell of a lot about world literature, and he’s a beautifully talented translator and prose stylist.

So—the answer was simple: give Jan free reign to manipulate a (public domain) text as he saw fit. The only requirement was that translate be involved.

What he came up with is an following erasure that we are in the penultimate stages of unveiling to you all (see image above).

When we are finished printing it in its 3 colors it will be called “Saint-Beuve Over a Crackling Phone Line” and it will be an erasure/translation from French, into Afrikaans, into English.

We’ll be showing them at our launch on March 11, and one can be yours if you subscribe to our 2015 list.

AUDIO: Two Voices Salon with Karen Emmerich on The Scapegoat by Sophia Nikolaidou


At our most recent Salon, Two Voices invited translator Karen Emmerich to discuss The Scapegoat by Sophia Nikolaidou, her latest translation with Melville House, and the current political and economic atmosphere in Greece. Karen teaches at the University of Oregon and recently won the 2014 PEN Poetry in Translation Award for Diaries of Exile by Yannis Ritsos (translated with Edmund Keeley).

The conversation took place at the Two Lines Offices and touched upon previous works Karen has translated, the comparison of Greek and American publishing traditions, historical and political points in The Scapegoat, and added insights from present translators. Listen in to learn more about current Greek literature and the surprising consequences of a downturned economy.

00:00 Introductions

1:35 Translators sharing projects they’re working on & exciting books they’ve read

10:45 How Karen began translating works

15:05 How people reacted to her first translation

16:13 Karen discussing her latest translation with Melville House, The Scapegoat

17:30 The personal, political and historical aspects of the novel

21:39 Explaining the title, The Scapegoat

24:00 Historical aspects and demands of the novel

26:23 Traditions of Greek publishing and translation editorial work – added perspectives from present translators

39:00 Arguments of the novel: The book’s reprisal of power relations such as the U.S. and the EU playing similar roles in Greece

40:55 Audience Question: I was wondering how you deal with mannerisms that are taken for granted in Greek culture? – Added perspectives from present translators

54:03 What Greek books have you taught in your lit courses?

-Follow-up Audience Question: From the time you had the idea for the book to the time it was printed –how long did it take?

57:38 Discussing the economics of translation

1:03:04 Discussing a future novel’s publication process

1:07:04 Audience Question: The average Greek reader – how would they experience the Pontian Greek in the novel. Is that something you know or had to research?

1:11:27 Audience Question: I’m curious about your focus on current Greek writing and the depth of the Greek crisis – do you feel like it’s starting a new literary movement in Greece?

1:14:30 Audience Question: I have the feeling that more readings and more of a community through poetry is present in Greece –is that what you feel, too?

1:16:30 Discussing very recent changes in the Greek political climate

AUDIO: Peter Bush in Conversation with Katherine Silver on Josep Pla’s Grey Notebook


On January 27th, Two Voices celebrated the release of Josep Pla’s The Grey Notebook (NYRB) in English by inviting the translator, Peter Bush, and renowned Bay Area translator Katherine Silver to discuss the non-fiction work. Bush received the Ramon Llull Award for his translation of Pla and has translated dozens of books from Catalan, Spanish, and Portuguese, including works by Juan Carlos Onetti and Quim Monzó. Katherine Silver is an award-winning translator and the director of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre. The conversation took place at San Francisco’s B44 Bistro and was set amid tapas and drinks. The two translators examined Pla’s life and work, provided historical context, and engaged with the audience to further the discussion about Catalan literature.

00:00 Introductions

05:30 Katherine Silver shares what will be discussed: a look at Catalan Literature, Josep Pla’s role in that, Peter’s translation of the non-fiction work, The Grey Notebook, and audience questions

06:10 Peter Bush provides historical background on Catalonia

08:46 Recuperation of Catalan as a literary language (1830-1860)

10:07 Peter begins discussing Josep Pla’s life

12:03 How Josep begins writing

14:42 Katherine asks Peter about the narrative voice in The Grey Notebook

16:10 Peter on Pla’s thinking as a writer: “I want to write something that reflects the movement of life”

19:20 Peter discusses how Catalonians benefitted during World War I and how Pla places those experiences in his work

22:46 Peter reads and discusses several entries in The Grey Notebook about translation, language and life in Catalonia

26:30 Catalan as a minority language and discovering Catalonian writers that are the literary equivalent of Dali, Picasso, Miró

29:00 How Peter ended up translating Pla

30:25 Critical mass of Catalonian literature

31:17 Peter reads a food related passage from The Grey Notebook

34:00 Katherine discusses the craft of Peter’s translation

34:52 Audience Questions

34:54: Q/A I was wondering if he [Pla] knew George Orwell?

*Follow-up: Katherine –I wonder if he knew Joseph Roth?

38:55 Q/A To what extent can you consider Catalan Literature, as a whole, part of the Spanish Literary canon, especially the 20th century when Pla wrote?

41:16 Q/A I was wondering if you knew anything about the tax situation in Andorra?

41:13 Q/A Pla seems to have said that the Catalan language was a tragedy, could you explain that further?

46:05 Q/A How often is Catalan translated into other languages, for instance, Spanish?

48:25 Q/A Is there a similar resurgence with French Catalan writers?

50:05 Q/A Considering how there isn’t much of a tradition of passing on literary traditions in Catalan, how often do you think (directly or indirectly) you see some of the brazenness in Josep Pla’s writing influencing other writers? Do you think that part of the reason Catalan works aren’t translated as often is because Catalonians’ take pride in their language and think it might get muddled through translation?

58:08 Q/A I’m curious, you mentioned the political position that Pla had and this position on the Catalan language, both of which could cause some discomfort for Catalan readers. You refer to it [The Grey Notebook] as a classic, but how do people over there actually feel about it and is there discomfort about him as a figure generally or is that water under the bridge because he wrote in Catalan?

1:03:32 Q/A Did Josep Pla have a different point of view on his work when he was older? Since he wrote The Grey Notebook when he was young and then didn’t edit it until he was older and had more life experience.

March 19: Two Voices Salon with Ann Goldstein and Michael Reynolds Discussing Elena Ferrante [EVENT]


Join us on Thursday, March 19, to discuss the work of Elena Ferrante with two people who know her work very well: her English language translator and publisher.

Michael Reynolds, publisher of Europa Editions, and Ann Goldstein, literary translator and New Yorker editor, join us via Skype to talk about one of the hottest authors in translation.

The author pseudonymously known as Elena Ferrante has become big news lately, as the first three books in her Neapolitan series have garnered rave reviews—including from James Wood, The New York Times, National Public Radio, Vogue, even Gwyneth Paltrow. These books have garnered sizable sales and have become well-known to book lovers in the English language.

Throughout her entire career (which includes 6 full-length novels in translation, all translated by Goldstein for Europa Editions), Ferrante has offered a bracing exploration of Italy’s infamous south—a place of immense history, culture, and beauty, but also home to mobsters, violence, and heavy chauvinism. Ferrante has received high praise for offering a lifelike, intricate portrait of this society, as well as for construing her story around the lives of two girls, as they develop through adolescence and into young women.

This Salon will take place at the Two Lines Press offices on Thursday, March 19, starting at 6:00 pm. The discussion will wind up at around 7:00 pm, with plenty of time to mingle afterwards.

As always, we’ll begin the conversation with the latest and greatest in translation—please come prepared to let us know what you’ve been reading! Alcoholic beverages and snacks will be provided.

  • Thursday, March 19
  • Two Lines Press offices
  • 582 Market St., Suite 700, San Francisco, CA 94104
  • Discussion: 6:00 – 7:00(ish) pm; mingling, etc, afterwards
  • Free food and drinks

Ann Goldstein is an editor at The New Yorker. She received a PEN Renato Poggioli Translation Award and was a visiting scholar at the American Academy in Rome. She has translated works by Elena Ferrante, Pier Palo Passolini, Alessandro Baricco, and many others. She is currently editing the complete works of Primo Levi, for which she received a Guggenheim Translation fellowship.

Michael Reynolds was born in Wollongong, Australia, in 1968 and now lives in Rome, Italy. He is editor in chief at Europa Editions. He is the author of a collection of short stories entitled Sunday Special, and a book for young readers entitled La notte di Q and illustrated by Brad Holland. He is the editor of 1989, an anthology of ten European writers illustrated by Henning Wagenberth. For Europa Editions his translations include three volumes in Carlo Lucarelli’s De Luca series, children’s fiction by Wolf Erlbruch and Altan, and Daniele Mastrogiacomo’s Days of Fear.

March 11: Two Lines Launch Party [EVENT]


Come party in San Francisco’s coolest subterranean events space! Join the editors of Two Lines to celebrate our first full year as a biannual journal with a double launch party for issues 21 and 22.

Translators Daniel Levin Becker, Yael Segalowitz, and Andrea Lingenfelter will be on hand to give a sampling of the best international literature coming out of France, Israel, and Hong Kong. Plus, a special super-secret reading by Two Lines managing editor Jessica Sevey. Come find out what she reads!!

  • Wednesday, March 11th, 2015
  • Viracocha
  • 998 Valencia St., San Francisco
  • Doors open at 8 p.m., readings begin at 8:30 p.m.
  • Cash bar
  • Tickets at the door: $10 buys you entry & either Two Lines 21 or 22; $15 gets you entry & Two Lines 21 AND 22.

Daniel Levin Becker is the reviews editor of The Believer and the youngest member of the Oulipo. His first book, Many Subtle Channels: In Praise of Potential Literature, was published by Harvard University Press in 2012.

Yael Segalovitz was born and raised in Israel and now lives in the East Bay, where she is pursuing her PhD in Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley. Her research spans Israeli, Brazilian and English literatures. She translates between the three languages and is currently working on a Hebrew translation of Clarice Lispector’s A Via Crucis do Corpo, forthcoming from the Israeli publisher Ha-Kibbutz ha-Me’uchad/Sifriat Po’alim.

Andrea Lingenfelter is a Bay Area-based writer, scholar of Chinese literature, and translator of fiction (including Farewell My Concubine and Candy) and poetry (including the 2012 Northern California Book Award-winning collection, The Changing Room: Selected Poems of Zhai Yongming). A 2014 NEA Translation Grant awardee and 2013-14 Kiriyama Fellow at the Center for the Pacific Rim at the University of San Francisco, she is currently translating Wang Anyi’s novel Scent of Heaven and Hon Lai Chu’s, The Kite Family.

Catalan Literature and Tapas!

Pla 2

On the evening of January 27, in the heart of downtown San Francisco, Two Voices invites you to enjoy free Catalan tapas and a conversation about Josep Pla, “the most celebrated Catalan writer of his generation,” between two renowned translators: Peter Bush and the Bay Area’s own Katherine Silver.

Alan Riding, of The New York Times, called Pla’s non-fiction work “a vibrant testimony to the power of words to transcend time”

Peter Bush won the Ramon Llull Award for his translation of Josep Pla’s masterpiece, The Gray Notebook (NYRB). Bush has translated dozens of books from Catalan, Spanish, and Portuguese, including work by Quim Monzo and Juan Carlos Onetti. His translation of Pla’s Bitter Life is forthcoming from Archipelago Books in April 2015.

In 2010, Two Lines’s Scott Esposito conducted an interview with Peter Bush on the release of his translation of Fernando de Rojas’s Celestina, available here.

Katherine Silver is an award-winning translator and director of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre. Her translation of Martín Adán’s The Cardboard House was a runner-up for the PEN Translation Award in 2013. She has brought into English some of the most important contemporary Spanish-language literature, including authors César Aira and Horacio Castellanos Moya, Martin Adán, Marcos Giralt Torrente, and many others.

In 2008, Two Voices interviewed Silver about Horacio Castellanos Moya, the audio of which can be found here.

  • B44 Catalan Bistro
  • 44 Belden Place, San Francisco
  • January 27, Doors at 5:00 pm, event at 5:30 pm
  • FREE (Tapas Included!)

Self-Portrait in Green is Making Waves!

Self-Portrait in Green has only been out since November, yet it’s making top-tier Flavorwire lists and receiving excellent raves by Shakespeare & Co, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and other media! The highly-esteemed author, Marie Ndiaye, was the winner of France’s most prestigious literature award, the Prix Goncourt, and a finalist for the 2013 Man Book International Prize.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Here is a small book that can be read in an evening. It’s a book that, once read, leaves you wondering what to think about it, but knowing at the least that you had a thought-provoking evening…. But the ensuing questions about what’s real and what’s metaphorical actually prove more intriguing than frustrating. Likely, this reaction is due to Ndiaye’s distinctive voice, gently rocking a reader through portraits that are hardly soothing.The result is a strange, strong series of stories.

Reading In Translation

Self-Portrait in Green is a book to be read on the move, in a bus, on a train, etc., where the reader’s own sense of direction and certainty is disrupted. This is because disorientation dominates NDiaye’s book; cases of misidentification, misappropriation, and misremembering abound. The result of this experimental literary technique could have been confusing, almost suffocating. Yet, NDiaye’s narrative unrolls effortlessly. This fluidity is due in part to the translator’s seasoned pen (ahem keyboard)…. Stump translates NDiaye’s weaving, ambiguous phrasing—so prevalent in French—into a clear English, though not one robbed of its strangeness. The book’s many temporal transitions in particular are seamless, the word choices notable. For a book filled to the brim with physical descriptions of the women in green, there is scant repetition; each portrait is vivid without relying on cliché.

Shakespeare & Co

What if you met your friend and didn’t recognise her, then saw her across the street and realised you’d been talking to a stranger? What happens when your sisters, your mother, your children act entirely unexpectedly? How do they become incarnations of the mysterious “women in green”? Man International Booker Prize nominee Marie NDiaye’s Self Portrait in Green is an affecting, novelistic memoir built from short stories that deal with close relations: how much can we ever know of those nearest to us, and can we know ourselves, and our own motives, any better?


This book skirts the line between a collection of short fiction, memoir, and novel, but I think it’s best understood as a set of scenes, variations on the theme of the “green lady”—an invention of NDiaye’s—that wades through feminine fear, power, and insecurity like no other book I’ve encountered.

Two Voices Salon with Sean Cotter on Blinding by Mircea Cartarescu [AUDIO]

blindingMausolems that resemble eyeballs, secret tunnels that become ears—and then vaginas—support groups and hard drinking for Mircea Cărtărescu’s translators, and just how Cărtărescu became such a famous author in Romania that calling him a “rock star” would be an insult . . .

All that and more can be heard in the audio player at the bottom of this webpage in our second Two Voices Salon, where the guest of honor is Sean Cotter, translator of Mircea Carterescu’s Blinding: The Left Wing (Archipelago Books, 2013). The first book in a 1,500-page trilogy, Blinding is an amazing ride through a dazzling, postmodern Romania, starting in Bucharest, somehow pivoting to New Orleans, and then back to Bucharest.

Our live audience agreed that Cotter was a hugely charming and erudite presence. As always, the conversation gets started off as we share what books in translation we’re currently reading. Then, after that, we turn to Cotter for an in-depth discussion of Blinding. Cotter is interviewed by Two Lines Press’s own Scott Esposito.

In addition to Cărtărescu’s Blinding, Cotter’s translations from the Romanian include Nichita Stănescu’s Wheel with a Single Spoke and Other Poems (recipient of the 2012 Best Translated Book Award for Poetry), Liliana Ursu’s Lightwall, and Nichita Danilov’s Secondhand Souls. His essays, articles, and translations have appeared in Conjunctions, Two Lines, and Translation Review. He is an associate professor of literature and literary translation at the University of Texas at Dallas, Center for Translation Studies.


0:20 The Council of Egypt by Leonardo Sciascia (translated by Adrienne Foulke)

1:40 Texas by Carmen Boullosa (translated by Samantha Schnee)

3:00 Report from the Besieged City by Zbigniew Herbert (translated by John Carpenter and Bogdana Carpenter)

3:45 Suspended Sentences by Patrick Modiano (translated by Mark Polizzotti)

4:40 Music & Literature Issue 5

5:40 Clarice Lispector, especially Água Viva (translated by Stefan Tobler)

6:10 Seiobo There Below by Laszlo Krasznahorkai (translated by Ottilie Mulzet) and Three Light Years by Andrea Canobbio (translated by Anne Milano Appel)


7:10 Introductions

8:50 How the project to translate Blinding came about

10:15 Cărtărescu’s place on the Romanian writing scene and influences

13:30 Cotter’s interactions with Cărtărescu while translating Blinding, and how he dealt with problem words

17:50: Cărtărescu vis a vis Communism and the fall of the regime in 1989

20:55 What Blinding is about

26:10 Concepts of normality and abnormality in Blinding

27:54 What Cotter likes and didn’t like about Blinding

33:35 Why is the book titled Blinding, and was Cotter tempted to leave the title in the Romanian, as Orbitor?

36:20 The meeting of Cărtărescu’s various translators from around the world

41:35 Would Cotter translate Volume 2 of Blinding, and Cotter’s process while translating Volume 1.

46:05 The sounds of the Romanian original

46:55 Cărtărescu’s Romanian publisher, Humanitas

51:10 Cărtărescu’s publishers during the Communist era

52:45 How Cotter came to Romania

54:40 Translation problems Cotter dealt with while translating Blinding

1:05:10 Biblical language in Blinding and how Cotter dealt with it

1:09:00 Making Cărtărescu’s racial language appropriate for an American setting

February 17: Two Voices Salon with Karen Emmerich [EVENT]

emmerichOn February 17 it will be our honor to host the person who just might be the English-language’s pre-eminent Greek translator: Karen Emmerich.

We will undoubtedly talk about some of Karen’s dozen-plus full-length projects (and innumerable stories, articles, and poems), but the main topic that night will be her new title, The Scapegoat. Publishing on February 3 from Melville House Books, it is by the Greek author Sofia Nikolaidou, who has never before been translated into English.

The Scapegoat is a potent novel about journalism, how history is recorded, and the contemporary situation in Greece today. It is based on the real-life story of the famed reporter George Polk (who eventually had a prestigious journalism award named after him).

This Salon will take place at the Two Lines Press offices on Tuesday, February 17, starting at 6:00 pm. As always, we’ll begin the conversation with the latest and greatest in translation, then move on to the main event. Alcoholic beverages and snacks will be provided.

  • Tuesday, February 17
  • Two Lines Press offices
  • 582 Market St., Suite 700, San Francisco, CA 94104
  • 6:00 – 7:00 pm
  • Free food and drinks

Here is Melville House’s description of the book:

In 1948, the body of an American journalist is found floating in the bay off Thessaloniki. A Greek journalist is tried and convicted for the murder . . . but when he’s released twelve years later, he claims his confession was the result of torture.

Flash forward to modern day Greece, where a young, disaffected high school student is given an assignment for a school project: find the truth.

Based on the real story of famed CBS reporter George Polk—journalism’s prestigious Polk Awards were named after him—who was investigating embezzlement of U.S. aid by the right-wing Greek government, Nikolaidou’s novel is a sweeping saga that brings together the Greece of the post-war period with the current era, where the country finds itself facing turbulent political times once again.

Told by key players in the story—the dashing journalist’s Greek widow; the mother and sisters of the convicted man; the brutal Thessaloniki Chief of Police; a U.S. Foreign Office investigator—it is the modern-day student who is most affecting of them all, as he questions truth, justice and sacrifice . . . and how the past is always with us.

$45,000 NEA Grant for Two Lines Press

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—The Center for the Art of Translation is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a $45,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support Two Lines Press. This award makes possible the publication of new books in translation and the biannual journal Two Lines, a flagship of international literature.

“We are incredibly gratified by this award—this is the most generous level of support the Center for the Art of Translation has ever received from the NEA, and it is a measure of how much progress Two Lines Press has made in the three short years since its launch,” says Center Executive Director Michael Holtmann. The grant will support publication in 2015-16 of three full-length translations as well as stories, poems, and essays from dozens of languages in Two Lines.

This award caps off a banner year for Two Lines Press, which hosted its first-ever author tour—Nordic Council Literature Prize-winner Naja Marie Aidt, the author of Baboon, attended events in six major U.S. cities—and received accolades from the Los Angeles Times, Kirkus Reviews, Tin House, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and Flavorwire, among many others.

Two Lines Press grew out of the 20-year history of the widely acclaimed translation journal Two Lines. Two Lines Press authors have received the Prix Goncourt, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Prix Femina, the Nordic Council Literature Prize, and the Georg Büchner Prize. Marie NDiaye’s All My Friends (translated by Jordan Stump) was a finalist for the 2014 French-American Foundation Translation Prize. Forthcoming titles include Richard Weiner’s The Game for Real (translated from the Czech by Benjamin Paloff) and Wolfgang Hilbig’s The Sleep of the Righteous & Other Stories (translated from the German by Isabel Fargo Cole).

The Center for the Art of Translation is a San Francisco-based non-profit that champions the art of translation by publishing the best world writing in Two Lines Press, engaging audiences through Two Voices literary events, and transforming student learning through the Poetry Inside Out education program..