[AUDIO] Two Voices Salon with Katrina Dodson on Clarice Lispector


photo by Poetry Inside Out staffmember Sarah Coolidge

On Thursday, September 24, we were honored to present Katrina Dodson before a capacity audience at the Book Club of California. Dodson was there to discuss the Complete Stories of Clarice Lispector, which she spent two years translating for New Directions. She was in conversation with Two Lines Press’s Scott Esposito.

The conversation was wide-ranging, including translation choices Dodson made (including contrasts with previous, domesticating translations of Lispector’s strange Portuguese), the growth of Lispector’s image, her non-adult-literary writings (including her columns and children’s literature), interactions between Dodson and Lispector series editor Ben Moser, the role of religious mysticism in Lispector’s writing, and some of Dodson’s favorite stories.

If you appreciate this audio and would like to say thanks, consider taking out a subscription to Two Lines Press (they’re very affordable) or donating to the Press’s parent organization, The Center for the Art of Translation.


0:00 Introductions by CJ Evans of Two Lines Press

3:10: Event starts

7:50: Katrina reads from “Love” by Clarice Lispector (in both Portuguese and English)

12:45: The development of Lispector as an author and as a person

16:55: Lispector as a person who “did her own thing,” her pornographic stories, and her evolution as a writer as seen in the Stories

20:08: The place of mysticism and Christian elements in Lispector’s writing

25:30: Direct comparison between the first-ever translation of a Lispector story into English and Katrina’s translation of that same story

32:00: Lispector as a writer of women’s bodies and experiences

35:30: Lispector’s image and the marketing of her books

41:05: Translating Lispector’s strange imagery

45:30: Separating out the sense from purposeful nonsense in Lispector’s strange writing

52:00 Katrina’s favorite stories

59:35: Lisepctor as compared to Bolaño as an emergent phenomenon in English

1:03:30 Authors Lispector could be compared to

1:06:45 Lispector’s journalistic work

1:08:25: Lispector’s children’s literature

1:09:22: What Katrina has learned from translating Lispector’s work

On “White Blight” from Two Lines Online

Every print issue of Two Lines is accompanied by an online supplement—Two Lines Online—featuring prose and poetry that seems to us to have a character that would thrive in an online space.

Jennifer Hayashida’s translation of “White Blight,” by the Swedish writer Athena Farrokhzad, has a visual presence that pops, so the choice to include an excerpt from the long poem in Two Lines Online this fall came very naturally. The poem also answers the present discussion of how Europe will respond to migrants from the Middle East by foregrounding the voices of those who have broached European borders before.

Two Lines Online’s selection from the long poem, which will be published in full this year by Argos Books, captures the poem’s key concerns. In a long poem, the accretion of reference is always a vital part of the form, and in taking just a sliver it’s impossible to reproduce that effect. Yet, the poem’s vision of family as both accuser and provider of succor, its chorus of voices, and the repeated references to darkness, light, white, milk, and night, are all present in the excerpt we chose to share with Two Lines readers, which hopefully will intrigue and delight those unfamiliar with Farrokhzad’s daring and dashing writing.

As a reader, it is “White Blight”’s insistence on the visual and spatial element of poetry that is most enlivening. While rhyme and meter often must be adjusted or abandoned in translations of poetry, Farrokhzad’s yawning gaps of blank space and her innovative use of white text highlighted in black carry across to the English without change, showing the potential visual and spatial elements of literature have to infuse the text with more than the denotative power of the words can hold.

Farrokhzad’s poem brings the voices of outsiders to the fore, highlighting her family’s origins outside of Sweden in the language of the poem while the form conveys the material fact of their otherness as Middle Easterners in a sea of polar light. In Hayashida’s translation, family members order the writer to tell their story in the right way:

My mother said: Write like this
For my opportunities my mother sacrificed everything
I must be worthy of her
everything I write will be true

Yet, between demands. they also offer sustenance—milk, coffee, love, the warmth of a handmade sweater. They offer histories, access to the past, and protection—the speaker’s grandmother says, “Your mother named you after a warrior to prepare you for winter.” The speaker can thereby defend herself against the cold, the “White Blight,” through her name—through language.

In the play of ordinary family life and grander pronouncements about suffering, the past, and all that’s missing, Farrokhzad faces the challenge of trying to capture the experience of immigrant settlers in Sweden, which is so heavily politicized, as in much of Europe. She answers that by becoming the channel for the many voices of her family, and by marking out those voices in a dark otherness on the vast snowy expanse of the page so that the reader cannot ignore the slap of difference that the streaks of blackness convey.

The mother says telling family stories to outsiders requires “a particular desire to disfigure.” Translating experience, translating histories and translating languages, we always face what the mother calls “a muteness that cannot be translated.” Yet with empathy towards those stories, acknowledging the difference and the gaps, we can appreciate the shadows and the spaces that Farrokhzad and Hayashida call to our attention. “White Blight” fights against the cold by acting as bridge and translator, hearing the family’s pain, sharing their love, and yet claiming a place in Swedish literature for the poet and for the poem’s voices.

Two Lines 23 Spotlight: “The Piper” by Yoko Tawada


This post comes to us from Sarah Coolidge, who works with Poetry Inside Out, a program of Two Lines Press’s parent organization, The Center for the Art of Translation. In addition, Sarah helps evaluate pieces for the Two Lines journal during our editorial meetings, and she’s our de facto photographer for Two Voices events.

“One day, a strange man came along playing a flute, and all the children danced after him, drooling, their eyes wide and round as chrysanthemums.”

When I was in fourth grade, I decided to learn to play the flute. We had to choose an instrument to learn, and I thought that because it was the smallest of the orchestral instruments it must be the easiest. That’s how child logic operates sometimes. Needless to say, I was mistaken.

Unable to achieve the rounded notes of my teacher (and some of the naturals in my class that I copied with mounting desperation), I produced instead several squeaky, high-pitched peeps that must have been quite painful to listen to. With each breath of air, blown roughly through the “O” shape of my unnaturally pursed lips, I mastered the art of squeaking. Unfortunately, there was no place for squeaking in the school orchestra. The next year I gave it up.

Today, when I hear the rounded notes of a flute I remember the remarkable (dare I say magical?) way that our teacher guided us through a song, directing and obstructing air in a dizzying flurry of the fingers. This brings me to one of my favorite pieces from the upcoming 23rd issue of Two Lines. Told through 44 unique vignettes, Yoko Tawada’s “The Piper” is unlike any other fairytale I’ve read. Translated by Margaret Mitsutani, the story—if you can really call it a single story—is a contemporary and sharp-edged transformation of the tale of the Pied Piper.

Popularized by the Brothers Grimm, the Pied Piper has since been retold in verse and prose by Goethe and Robert Browning. The poet Marina Tsvetaeva, who lived through the “terrible years” of Russian history, which included civil war and famine, borrowed the tale as an allegory for Bolshevik propaganda. Fairytales are beautiful for their ability to adapt to their surroundings; authors consistently modernize them, and we delight in their soothingly universal relevance.

Instead, Yoko Tawada dives into the shockingly personal details left out by most fairytales. After all, in fairytales we speak in general terms. The community is grouped into vague cloisters of townsfolk and people, and even the protagonists fade into unanimity, often going by their titles alone: prince, fairy, piper, etc. And yet each character, under the thumb of the omnipotent narrator, hides a unique perspective behind his or her silence.

In “The Piper,” these perspectives are unleashed. Secrets are voiced that we almost regret having heard. The story of a mass kidnapping takes a carnivalesque twist. A pair of traveling entertainers is likened to a pair of fleas; children are continuously compared to rats; and the Piper, with his feathered red hat and magical flute, pops up across centuries and cultures. Tawada goes so far as to ask us to consider the rats: are they really guilty of carrying disease, or are they mere scapegoats for human filth and folly?

Yoko Tawada clearly enjoys the uncomfortable mixture of the personal and the traditional. She decides to set several of the vignettes specifically in Hamelin (the setting of the original), though she tells the tale in her native Japanese. Tawada, who lives in Germany, once explained in an essay that, rather than choosing a single language to write in, she prefers to “find that poetical ravine that divides the two and tumble into it.” I find her metaphor oddly perverse, verging on violence; tumbling suggests lack of control and will, while ravine, with its steep sides and rushing water, implies the impossibility of escape.

The story of a vengeful ratcatcher with a magical pipe is perhaps no less perverse. Like many fairytales revisited in adulthood, the Pied Piper has disturbing undertones. Essentially a story of seduction—both rats and children are powerless before the dizzying music of the piper’s flute—the original tale avoids the subject of sexual seduction like the plague. In “The Piper,” however, the dangerously seductive nature of sexuality is thoroughly unraveled.

Tawada is amazingly talented at tapping into a diverse set of voices, including a gender-confused child and parents who admit to disliking and fearing their children. Nothing is off limits. And perhaps most importantly, Margaret Mitsutani enchants us with the seductive nature of the prose, leading us along like mesmerized children.

Who is the Man of Pain?


This post comes to us from Sarah Coolidge, who works with Poetry Inside Out, a program of Two Lines Press’s parent organization, The Center for the Art of Translation. In addition, Sarah helps evaluate pieces for the Two Lines journal during our editorial meetings, and she’s our de facto photographer for Two Voices events.

When I first searched the name Richard Weiner online, I found only a short Wikipedia article and a handful of blog posts by Slavic literature enthusiasts, clearly intended for fellow academics and speakers of Czech. I was intrigued but bewildered. Here and there I caught bits of information: passing remarks about the writer’s sexuality, France, WWI, and odd comparisons to Franz Kafka and Marcel Proust, amounting to mere fragments of a life lived and obscured for nearly a century. I wished I knew Czech.

After speaking this past spring to Benjamin Paloff, Weiner’s translator and a professor at the University of Michigan, I realized that Weiner was a contradiction of identities, much like his protagonists. “It’s no longer, and not yet, real; it’s the most beautiful moment he could ask of waking,” the narrator tells us in the opening pages of “The Game for the Honor of Payback,” the second part of The Game for Real. It seems that all of Weiner’s protagonists live in worlds in which they would rather not exist. In these worlds—I say worlds because Weiner’s universe is multifaceted and malleable—they are pursued, invaded, manipulated, ignored, accused, and shamed. And in this particular case, the protagonist is literally referred to as Shame.

Perhaps this hostility reflects Weiner’s own sense of alienation as a gay Jew living in early 20th-century Europe. This is most likely what first attracted the Czech writer to Marcel Proust, another gay man of Jewish descent writing at that time. In fact, after suffering a psychological breakdown (today we would call it Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) during his short service in WWI, Weiner relocated to France, where he spent the majority of his remaining life. There, he became one of the first readers and reviewers of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, writing about each book as it came out for the Czech newspaper Lidové noviny.

And yet Weiner never achieved the international success of Proust. Much like his characters, he seemed to take refuge in abstraction, those moments when reality ruptures into a thousand pieces of uncertain dimensions. Whether lost in the torrent of European existentialist and surrealist writers or else overshadowed by his fellow countrymen Franz Kafka and Milan Kundera, Weiner died relatively unknown outside of his own country, and his works were left to collect dust for decades under the expansive shadow of the Iron Curtain.

The harder I search for Weiner—in those biographical fragments as well as in his prose—the more I am confronted with contradictions, which answer my question Who is Richard Weiner? with a succession of slaps! My only certainty is that the writer has playfully eluded me, escaping to an alternate reality in which a day is “ashily authentic, with hands dejectedly folded,” and hands behave “like sworn and skittish spies on the front lines . . . looking out for whatever’s eventually coming up against them.”

9/17: Indonesian Author Eka Kurniawan at Green Apple Books on the Park [EVENT]


Considered by many to be the greatest among a new generation of Indonesian novelists, Eka Kurniawan will discuss Beauty is a Wound (New Directions) and Man Tiger (Verso)—both published on the same day—with Center founder Olivia Sears. and his able translator Annie Tucker.

Kurniawan has been described as the brightest star in Indonesia’s new literary firmament, the author of two remarkable novels whose sheer beauty, elegance, cosmopolitanism, and ambition have brought comparisons not only to Pramaoedya Ananta Toer, universally considered Indonesia’s modern literary genius, but also to Salman Rushdie, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Mark Twain.

  • September 17, 2015
  • Green Apple Books on the Park
  • 1231 9th Ave., San Francisco
  • 7:30 pm
  • FREE
  • RSVP here

10/19: A Celebration of Wolfgang Hilbig [EVENT]

“Wolfgang Hilbig is an artist of immense stature.”
— László Krasznahorkai, winner of the
2015 International Man Booker Prize

Join us on October 19 at Brecht-Haus in Berlin to celebrate one of Germany’s most essential authors: Wolfgang Hilbig. Although Hilbig is no stranger to acclaim in his native Germany, he has never before had any of his full-length works published in English. That changes this year, as two Hilbig titles see their English-language release: The Sleep of the Righteous (Two Lines Press) and ‘I’ (Seagull Books).

To mark this long overdue arrival into English, Two Lines Press has convened a Hilbig celebration in Berlin, consisting of: translator Isabel Fargo Cole, who is responsible for both of these English-language translations, plus two award-winning German authors who have been greatly influenced by Hilbig: Ingo Schulze and Inka Parei. The conversation will be moderated by the noted translator of German fiction and all-around lover of German books, Katy Derbyshire. Co-sponsored by Exberliner.

Join us to learn more about the work of one of Germany’s most esteemed and influential post-war writers, with four specialists on German literature!

WHERE: Brecht-Haus, Chausseestraße 125, 10115 Berlin

WHEN: Monday, October 19, 2015, 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm

WHAT: A celebration and exploration of Wolfgang Hilbig’s work, with Isabel Fargo Cole, Ingo Schulze, Inka Parei, and Katy Derbyshire. Co-sponsored by Exberliner.

COST: admission: €6,
copy of The Sleep of the Righteous: €12
copy of The Sleep of the Righteous + admission: €15


Isabel Fargo Cole is a U.S.-born, Berlin-based writer and translator. Her translations include Boys and Murderers by Hermann Ungar (Twisted Spoon Press, 2006), All the Roads Are Open by Annemarie Schwarzenbach (Seagull Books, 2011) and The Jew Car by Franz Fühmann (Seagull Books, 2013). The recipient of a prestigious PEN/Heim Translation Grant in 2013, she is the initiator and co-editor of no-mans-land.org, an online magazine for new German literature in English.

Katy Derbyshire is a London-born translator who lives in Berlin. She translates contemporary German writers including Inka Parei, Clemens Meyer, Helene Hegemann, Simon Urban and Christa Wolf. Katy thinks out loud about German books and translation issues at her blog love german books,as well as co-editing the online journal no-mans-land.org, co-hosting Berlin’s monthly translation lab, and occasionally leading translation workshops.

Inka Parei is the recipient of the 2003 Ingeborg Bachmann Prize. Her novels The Shadow-Boxing Woman, What Darkness Was, and The Cold Centre have appeared in English translations with Seagull Books in Katy Derbyshire’s translation.

Ingo Schulze was born in Dresden in 1962 and studied classical philology at the University of Jena. His first book, 33 Moments of Happiness, won two prestigious German literary awards, the Alfred Döblin Prize and the Ernst Willner Prize for Literature. In 2007 he was awarded both the Leipzig Book Fair Prize and the Thuringia Literature Prize. He is a member of the German Academy for Language and Literature.

Win a Pre-Publication Copy of The Boys


This fall, you’re going to be hearing a lot about Toni Sala! He’ll be appearing at the incredible International Festival of Authors in Toronto (alongside another Two Lines Press author, Santiago Roncaligolo). Plus, we’re going to be doing a major launch event with Toni in San Francisco. And that’s just for starters. This is Toni’s first ever appearance in the English language, and we’re preparing a very warm welcome for him.

As part of this welcome, we are making available 20 pre-publication copies of The Boys for people who can’t can’t wait to see what this book is all about. Anyone on Goodreads can enter to win one of these books free of charge by using the entry button below.

So who is Toni Sala? Well, for starters, the influential newspaper La Vanguardia said of him that “during the last 15 years, Catalan literature has produced
few voices of such strength.”

He’s regarded as one of the leading Catalan authors, and The Boys was hailed as a masterpiece upon its release in 2014, winning the Premis de la Crítica, the most prestigious award in Catalan writing.

And what is this book, you ask? Toni Sala’s The Boys is a profound story of how the deaths of two young men change the lives of four individuals. With intricate meditations worthy of Javier Marías, and dark, existential plots reminiscent of Michel Houellebecq, Toni Sala’s English-language debut should put him into the company of the best world writers.

We’d love to hear what you think! Please enter for a chance to read Toni Sala’s The Boys.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Boys by Toni Sala

The Boys

by Toni Sala

Giveaway ends August 11, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

#WITMonth Sale and Challenge!


With the start of August comes Women in Translation Month, also known by its hashtag as #WITMonth.This is an awesome invention that we at Two Lines Press fully support!

We do everything we can around here to keep the gender of our authors balanced and to generally promote the incredible writing being done by women around the world. So, of course, we love seeing Meytal Radzinski (aka Biblibio) putting together an awesome assortment of resources for all your #WITMonth needs, including a reading challenge (in 3 parts), a FAQ, and ways to participate.

And lots of other people are running with this, including Beyond Eden Rock, JacquiWine, and of course the incredible Tony Malone. You can also follow all of the action on Twitter.

Because this is such a cool thing, and because we like to believe we’ve got some of the coolest readers of all, we’d love to see Two Lines Press’s community participate in this celebration of women writers worldwide.

So do it TLP fans! Read, read, read!!!

To help get you in the mood, we’ve put together little challenge for you. We hereby challenge you, the Two Lines Press Community, to:

  1. read a woman in translation during August
  2. and send us a photo of yourself in action (or just your book, if you’re bashful)

The best way to do that is to tweet a photo at us (we’re @TwoLinesPress), along with the hashtag #WITMonth. You can also pop on over to our Facebook page and put your photo on our wall.

We’ll be thrilled to see any and all women in translation that you’re reading!

But, of course, we do publish and sell books around here, so we’d really love to see you reading some Two Lines Press titles. To help encourage you, we’re going to give you a huge WITMonth discount on our three titles by women in translation:

We are offering these at a WITMonth special of just $25—almost a 50% discount! (you can also buy them individually at the above links at 30% off)

Purchase them via Pay Pal by clicking on this link.

10/12: Naja Marie Aidt Reading and In Conversation with CJ Evans


Join us for Two Lines Press’s own Naja Marie Aidt at The Lab during Litquake. The author of Baboon will be talking with Two Lines Press’s editorial director, CJ Evans, about her long-awaited first novel, Rock, Paper, Scissors (Open Letter Books).

Rock, Paper, Scissors is a complex portrait of a man whose life slowly devolves into violence and jealousy. One of Denmark’s most decorated and beloved authors, Aidt will read from the newly released novel and share her thoughts on writing, being translated, and how she captures the dark secrets of her characters.

  • Monday, October 12th, 2015
  • The Lab, 2948 16th Street, San Francisco
  • 7:00 PM
  • FREE

Naja Marie Aidt was born in Greenland and raised in Copenhagen. She is the author of ten collections of poetry and three short story collections, including Baboon (Two Lines Press), which received the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize and the Danish Critics Prize for Literature. Her books have been translated into nine languages. Rock, Paper, Scissors is her first novel.

CJ Evans is the editorial director of Two Lines Press, and the author of A Penance (New Issues Press) and The Category of Outcast (Poetry Society of America). The recipient of an Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship, he recently returned to the Bay Area from Aix, France.

Two Lines Sale


For a limited time we are selling all back issues of Two Lines for $1 each, plus shipping.

That’s right, ONE DOLLAR EACH. That’s a discount of between 94.37% and 92.88% off, depending on which issue. INCREDIBLE!

The work of many hands, eras, languages, and world cultures can be yours for a scandalously low price.

For a limited time.


Each link below will joyfully fill your Pay Pal shopping cart with a back issue of Two Lines at the most discount price possible.


ISSUE 21 — FEATURING Johannes Göransson, Antonio Tabucchi, Marcos Giralt Torrente, Natasha Wimmer, and Edward Gauvin

ISSUE 20 — FEATURING Scholastique Mukasonga, Wolfgang Hilbig, Jeffrey Yang, Sergio Chejfec, Susan Bernofsky, and Christopher Merrill

ISSUE 19 — FEATURING Naja Marie Aidt, Lydia Davis, Katrina Dodson, Daniel Hahn, and Camille T. Dungy

ISSUE 18 — FEATURING Alejandra Pizarnik, Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, César Aira, Marilyn Hacker, Albert Cossery, Luc Sante, and Rosanna Warren

ISSUE 17 — FEATURING Inger Christensen, Lydia Davis, Oliverio Girondo, Mikhail Shishkin, Mikhail Shishkin, Natasha Wimmer, and Jeffrey Yang

ISSUE 16 — FEATURING José Manuel Prieto, Anna Szabó, Yoko Tawada, Mahmoud Darwish, George Szirtes, Margaret Jull Costa, and Marilyn Hacker

ISSUE 15 — FEATURING Antonio Muñoz Molina, Margaret Jull Costa, Rodrigo Rey Rosa, John Biguenet, and Sidney Wade

ISSUE 14 — FEATURING Tomas Tranströmer, Robert Hass, Vicente Huidobro, Mercè Rodoreda, and Forrest Gander

ISSUE 13 — FEATURING Jorge Volpi, Suzanne Jill Levine, Dahlia Ravikovitch, Charlotte Mandell, César Vallejo, and Rosmarie Waldrop

ISSUE 12 — FEATURING Ingeborg Bachmann, John Felstiner, Brother Anthony of Taizé, and Yehuda Amichai

ISSUE 11 — FEATURING Don Mee Choi, Donald A. Yates, Eunice Odio, and Marilyn Hacker

ISSUE 10 — FEATURING Pablo Picasso, Suzanne Jill Levine, Marian Schwartz, and Aleksandr Anashevich

ISSUE 9 is SOLD OUT! — FEATURING Ko Un, Enrique Anderson-Imbert, Giovanni Giudici, and Félix Morisseau-Leroy

ISSUE 8 — FEATURING Yoko Tawada, Cesare Pavese, Umberto Saba, Amélie Nothomb, X-504, and Richard Plantagenet, Coeur-de-Lion

ISSUE 7 — FEATURING Karel Čapek, Luis Cernuda, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Pura López Colomé, and Forrest Gander

ISSUE 6 — FEATURING Henri Michaux, Charles Baudelaire, Beatriz Escalante, Parents & Teachers of Tierra y Libertad, Chiapas, and Saigyo

ISSUE 5 — FEATURING César Vallejo, Peter Handke, Daimon Searls, Jayadeva, and Ryuichi Tamura

ISSUE 4 — FEATURING Juan Goytisolo, Peter Bush, Stephane Mallarmé, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Marian Schwartz, Jack Hirschman, and Alexander Pushkin

ISSUE 3 — FEATURING Julio Cortázar, Eugenio Montale, Natsume Soseki, Dante Alighieri, and King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain