Category Archives: Literature

Orhan Pamuk attacks ‘marginalisation’ of non-English writers


Orhan Pamuk signs books at the first day of the Jaipur literature festival. Photograph: Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images

The Guardian: “Speaking at the Jaipur literary festival in India, Pamuk, whose much-feted novels including My Name is Red, Snow and The Museum of Innocence were all written in Turkish, lamented the western world’s dominance over literary culture.

“Most of the writers at a festival such as Jaipur [write] in English,” he said. “This is maybe because English is the official language here. But for those writing in other languages, their work is rarely translated and never read. So much of human experience is marginalised.”

Pamuk, who teaches humanities at Columbia University, also accused literary critics of constantly trying to “provincialise” his work. “When I write about love, the critics in the US and Britain say that this Turkish writer writes very interesting things about Turkish love.”

Maureen Freely: How I got lost in translation and found my true calling

“Translation can be an underpaid, anonymous job. Yet it is crucial for the cross-fertilisation of literature and for Maureen Freely, it has become a deeply satisfying life’s work

Outside the Anglophone world, it is not unusual for novelists and poets to work at some point in their lives as translators. Though most will say that they did so mainly to subsidise their own writing, it is often clear, when you look at that writing, that it has been enriched by the imaginary conversations they’ve had with the poets and novelists whose words they have translated.

If there is such a thing as world literature, it is because today’s most interesting writers are also well‑travelled readers and a lot of what they read is in translation. An up-and-coming Colombian novelist might be inspired not just by Borges, Conrad and Faulkner, but by contemporary novelists from Asia, Africa and Europe; his literary response to their work will go on to influence what his contemporaries on the other side of the world write next. These complex patterns of cross-fertilisation would end overnight if it were not for literary translators and the publishers who support them. So you’d think people would thank us, wouldn’t you?”

Read this essay at The Guardian

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