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Translated Lit

Carlos Fuentes Explores His ‘Dickensian’ Novel

A New York Times review once described Carlos Fuentes’ work as “Joycean in Christopher Unborn, Jamesian in Aura, Faulknerian in The Death of Artemio Cruz.” Now we can add “Dickensian” to that list of influences.

Before his 92Y reading tonight, the novelist explored the influence of Charles Dickens in his new novel. Fuentes (pictured, via) recently published the English version of his novel, Destiny and Desire (La Voluntad y la Fortuna in Spanish, translated by Edith Grossman).

Q: What can you tell me about your new book?

A: It’s called Destiny and Desire. It’s basically a Cain and Abel story; that is the larger frame of the book. It’s two brothers who love each other and hate each other in the end. They’re called Jericó and Josué. That is the larger frame of the book.

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Sacha Baron Cohen to Star in Adaptation of Saddam Hussein’s Romance Novel

Golden Globe-winner Sacha Baron Cohen (pictured, via) will star in an adaptation of Zabibah and the King, a novel that may have been written by Saddam Hussein. The film will be called The Dictator, and release is set for May 2012.

The book spotlights Zabibah, an Iraqi peasant in an abusive marriage who falls in love with the country’s head monarch. The Guardian explained: “It was intended to be read as an allegory for Iraq in the years following the first Gulf war, with the king representing Saddam, Zabibah embodying the Iraqi people and her husband standing in for the cruel and evil US forces.”

There is some debate about whether or not Hussein actually wrote the book. According to a New York Times article, the  C.I.A. believes that ghostwriters wrote it–directed by the late Iraqi leader.

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Federico Garcia Lorca Poem Manuscript Surfaces

A new manuscript for Federico Garcia Lorca‘s “Oficina y denuncia” (“Office and Denunciation”) has been uncovered. Professor Christopher Maurer discovered the draft in the Library of Congress’ music division.

The Guardian reports: “‘Oficina y denuncia’ captures an important moment in Lorca’s career, as the poet turns away from brief lyrical poetry towards an engagement with broad social issues, and begins to write more openly about his love of men.”

The published version of Lorca’s poem appeared in his collection, Poeta en Nueva York (Poet in New York). Lorca had traveled to New York in 1929 to take an English course at Columbia University and wrote about Great Depresssion-era America. Currently, Maurer is working with Andrew Anderson on a book about Lorca’s time spent in America and Cuba.

‘China’s J.K. Rowling’ Finds English-Speaking Readers

Hongying Yang (pictured, via) has been dubbed “China’s J.K. Rowling,” selling 40 million books in China. In the past few years, HarperCollins has found an audience for her work in the English-speaking world.

Harper Collins China Business Development managing director Stella Chou told the Beijing Review: “The performance of Yang’s books is the best among the books we’ve introduced from China to the English-speaking world … Yang’s books offer insight into contemporary society through a typical Chinese child, and a typical Chinese cat.”

The article called Yang the first Chinese kidlit writer to find a place in the mainstream English market. A former elementary school teacher, Yang primarily writes for the 6-to-12-year-old age group. Her titles include: Girl’s Diary, the Mo’s Mischief series and the Diary of a Smiling Cat series.

Seven Stories Press Acquires Memoir by Stieg Larsson’s Partner

Eva Gabrielsson spent 30 years as novelist Stieg Larsson‘s life partner. Now Seven Stories Press has acquired the North American rights to her memoir about their lives together. Linda Coverdale will translate.

Here’s more from the release: “Gabrielsson describes their activism and deep political passion, their struggle to keep Stieg’s magazine Expo going, their early lives, as well as the seemingly mundane details that make a life: their love of coffee and Stockholm cafes, etc. … The book also includes never-before-seen photographs and letters.”

The book is currently untitled. While Swedish, French, and Norwegian editions will arrive in January 2011, the English market will have to wait until June 2011. In a 2009 interview with Publishing Perspectives, Gabrielsson mentioned a memoir tentatively titled The Year After Stieg.

Graywolf Press to Publish Liu Xiaobo Poetry Collection

Graywolf Press has acquired the world rights (excluding Chinese languages) to a poetry collection by imprisoned Chinese poet,  Liu Xiaobo. Today the poet received the Nobel Peace Prize, but could not accept the award in person.

Here’s more from the release: “June Fourth Elegies is divided into twenty sections, each section an ‘anniversary offering’ for the June 4, 1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square. Xiaobo was one of the leading activists of the non-violent protest at Tiananmen, and was one of the architects of the Charter 08 manifesto. Much of Liu’s writing has been confiscated due to his many imprisonments for his public criticism of the Chinese government; he has not been able to publish June Fourth Elegies in China.”

Poet Jeffrey Yang will translate the collection. Literary agent Peter Bernstein negotiated the deal with Jeffrey Shotts and publisher Fiona McCrae. The press plans to release the collection in 2012.

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Penguin Classics Coming to the Arabic Audiences

p2323.jpgPenguin Group (USA) and Egyptian publisher Dar El Shorouk have partnered to bring Penguin Classics to the Arabic world.

Some of the planned titles include Robert Louis Stevenson‘s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Miguel de CervantesDon Quixote, and Jonathan Swift‘s Gulliver’s Travels.

The Wall Street Journal interviewed Dar El Shorouk chairman Ibrahim El Moallem. Here’s an excerpt about censorship in the Arab world: “Mr. El Moallem said that presenting the Penguin library as a series of the world’s greatest books may help trump the censorship issue. In addition, while the books will be launched as printed physical copies, planned digital editions will prove difficult to repress.”

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Harvard University Press to Publish Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo

Harvard University Press will translate works by Chinese author Liu Xiaobo, this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner.  Publication for the untitled anthology is set for 2012.

Xiaobo (pictured) writes poetry, essays, and social commentary about political reform in China. The academic press has enlisted Perry Link (chancellorial chair in teaching across disciplines at the University of California, Riverside) to  supervise a translation team. Link had this statement: “Until he won the Nobel Peace Prize, Liu Xiaobo was little known in the West. This collection offers to the reader of English the full range of his astute and penetrating analyses of culture, politics, and society in China today.”

So far, Xiaobo has served almost two years of his 11-year prison sentence for “inciting subversion of state power.”  Liu Xia, his wife, has been put under house arrest.

Kama Sutra Repackaged as Lifestyle Guide

What’s the Kama Sutra without erotic illustrations? A new version of the 1,600-year-old Hindu text has been polished to focus more on love and relationships. Penguin UK will publish it as a text-only pocket-sized handbook next February.

The Telegraph explains: “[T]he new version, written by A. N. D Haksar, an Indian scholar and a leading translator of Sanskrit texts, will include updated chapter headings such as ‘Making a Pass,’ ‘Why Women Get Turned Off,’ ‘Girls to Avoid,’ ‘Is he Worthwhile?,’ ‘Getting rid of him,’ ‘Easy Women,’ ‘Moves towards sex,’ and ‘Some Dos and Don’ts.’”

Last year we wrote about the audiobook version of the famous sex manual. Beautiful Books published it last summer. British actress Tanya Franks narrated.

Alaa Al Aswany Rejects Hebrew Translation

Bestselling Arab novelist Alaa Al Aswany has objected to a Hebrew translation of his novel, The Yacoubian Building.

According to the AFP, a volunteer translated the novel despite the author’s disapproval. The Israel/Palestine Centre for Research and Information (IPCRI) emailed the Hebrew translation to readers with the goal of “expand[ing] cultural awareness and understanding in the region.”

The New York Times offered this quote: “Dr. Al Aswany told Agence France-Presse, ‘What the center and the translator did is piracy and theft, and I will be complaining to the International Publishers’ Association.’ He added: ‘My position has not changed regarding normalization with Israel. I reject it completely.’”

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