THAT OTHER WORD: Episode 6 | October 2012 | Géraldine Chognard and Sylvia Whitman

“That Other Word,” a collaborative podcast between the Center for Writers and Translators at the American University of Paris and Two Lines Press in San Francisco, offers discussions on classic and contemporary literature in translation, along with engaging interviews with writers, translators, and publishers.

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In this episode, Daniel Medin and Scott Eposito revisit Robert Walser’s Microscripts in its new illustrated paperback edition, and look forward to another take on that author’s work, the strange and musical “monologue for multiple voices” that is Elfriede Jelinek’s Her Not All Her: On/With Robert Walser. They discuss the reconstructed romances in Jacqueline Raoul-Duval’s Kafka In Love and the well-earned praise for Stig Sæterbakken’s Self-Control. They hope that Dalkey Archive Press’ Arvo Pärt in Conversation will bring about a resurgence in the genre of conversations, and tip their hats to Seagull Books for publishing two works by the 2012 Nobel Laureate Mo Yan, Change and the forthcoming Pow!

Daniel Medin then speaks to two booksellers in Paris about introducing and promoting literature in translation, challenges to bookselling in the age of Amazon, and the idea of the bookshop as community center.

Géraldine Chognard manages Le Comptoir des Mots (near the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris’ twentieth arrondissement) and co-runs the small press Cambourakis, which specializes in literature in translation and has published Stanley Elkin and László Krasznahorkai, among others. She speaks about Librest, a cooperative effort among seven bookshops in eastern Paris, and ways to promote new works in translation. She mentions Le Comptoir des Mots’ successful poet-in-residence program, which has already hosted Frédéric Forte, a member of Oulipo, and Benoît Casas, and comments on Cambourakis’ upcoming publishing projects, including the French translation of Krasznahorkai’s War & War.

Sylvia Whitman took over Shakespeare and Company, Paris’ best-known anglophone bookshop, from her father, George Whitman, five years ago. She talks about appreciating the shop’s history and her efforts to expand its mission, the joys of reading in multiple languages, and the unique position of anglophone booksellers in France. She reveals Shakespeare and Company’s bestselling titles and recommends some of her staff’s recent favorites.


INTRO: Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito

1:06 Robert Walser’s Microscripts
2:00 Elfriede Jelinek’s Her Not All Her: On/With Robert Walser
5:55 Jacqueline Raoul-Duval’s Kafka In Love
6:57 Stig Sæterbakken’s Self-Control, plus his essay “Why I Always Listen to Such Sad Music,” published in Music and Literature
8:25 Dalkey Archive Press’ Arvo Pärt in Conversation
9:09 Works by Mo Yan: Change and Pow!
10:35 Scott Esposito and Daniel Medin introduce Géraldine Chognard and Sylvia Whitman

FEATURE, PART 1: Daniel Medin interviews Géraldine Chognard

12:02 The role of book stores in introducing and promoting works in translation, with a mention of Reinhard Jirgl
15:47 Librest and cooperative efforts with other booksellers and presses in Paris
18:30 Le Comptoir des Mots’ poet-in-residence program
21:04 Géraldine Chognard recommends: Céline Minard
22:08 Krasznahorkai’s War & War, plus his Au nord par une montagne, au sud par un lac, à l’ouest par les chemins, à l’est par un cours d’eau

FEATURE, PART 2: Daniel Medin interviews Sylvia Whitman

26:13 Learning to run Shakespeare and Company
28:15 ‘Life in translation’: Living between languages; reading and promoting literature in translation
31:00 On being an anglophone bookseller in France
35:01 Contemporary challenges to bookselling, and Shakespeare and Company’s solutions
41:30 Festivals and events at Shakespeare and Company
45:38 Noëlle Revaz’s With the Animals, Raymond Queneau, and being well-displaced
48:20 Sylvia Whitman recommends: Jean-Philippe Toussaint; Edouard Levé; Dimitri Verhulst’s Madame Verona Comes Down the Hills; Gerbrand Bakker; Per Petterson; and Emmanuel Carrère’s Limonov
49:54 Anglophone authors and books Sylvia Whitman is currently reading