The Literary Tourist is a column of conversations between literary translators about newly released books in translation. This month Andrea Gregovich interviews Spanish translator Megan McDowell. Megan has translated novels by a number of South American and Spanish authors and has published shorter works in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Paris Review, McSweeney’s, Words Without Borders, and Vice. Her translation of Fever Dream, an unsettling novel by Samanta Shweblin, is a new release from Riverhead Books.
Andrea Gregovich: What an intriguing book this is! The narrative plops the reader down right in the middle of a fever dream, which has a profoundly disorienting effect as you try to get your bearings in the story. How was it to translate something so necessarily confusing? I find context so important when I’m translating, but the context here is the entire mystery of the book. Did you need to confer with the author to help keep track of what’s going on? Continue reading
Ninety-Nine Stories of God by Joy Williams: “This series of short, fictional vignettes explores our day-to-day interactions with an ever-elusive and arbitrary God. The Lord shows up at a hot-dog-eating contest, a demolition derby, a formal gala, and a drugstore, where he’s in line to get a shingles vaccination. At turns comic and yearning, lyric and aphoristic, Ninety-Nine Stories of God serves as a pure distillation of one of our great artists.”
You Are Having a Good Time by Amie Barrodale: “Barrodale’s protagonists drink too much, say the wrong things, want the wrong people. They’re hounded by longings (and sometimes ghosts) to the point where they are forced to confront the illusions they cling to. They’re brought to life in stories that don’t behave as you expect stories to behave. Barrodale’s startlingly funny and original fictions get under your skin and make you reconsider the fragile compromises that underpin our daily lives.”
Multiple Choice by Alejandro Zambra: “Written in the form of a standardized test, Multiple Choice invites the reader to respond to virtuoso language exercises and short narrative passages through multiple-choice questions that are thought-provoking, usually unanswerable, and often absurd. At once funny, poignant, and political, Multiple Choice is about love and family, authoritarianism and its legacies, and the conviction that, rather than learning to think for ourselves, we are trained to obey and repeat.”
Also this month: We’ll interview Rebecca Traister (author of All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation), we’ll review Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett, and we’ll hear from Bonnie Nadzam about her new novel, Lions.