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

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