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 Segalovitz, 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.