That Other Word: Episode 12

A free online podcast discussing literature and translation

An announcement from That Other Word:

That Other Word is a podcast run jointly by Daniel Medin (Center for Writers and Translators, Paris) and Scott Esposito (Center for the Art of Translation, San Francisco).

Each episode features a discussion between Daniel and Scott on recent noteworthy literature in translation, and then an in-depth interview with writers, translators, editors, and publishers. The podcast hopes to celebrate and explore various and under-appreciated aspects of translation, not only into and out of English, but other languages as well.

In their introduction to this episode, Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito explore two themes: storytelling and surreality. In the latter category are Orly Castel-Bloom’s Textile, a funny, unconventional portrait of contemporary Israel, and Mircea Cărtărescu’s Blinding, Book 1: The Left Wing, the first volume in a sweeping trilogy about Romania, memory, New Orleans, and butterflies. The hosts then give a nod to works by two great Spanish-language storytellers: the Guatemalan Rodrigo Rey Rosa’s The African Shore proves irresistible from the beginning, and the Spanish Marcos Giralt Torrente’s The End of Love is evidence that not all love stories are doomed to cliché.

Daniel Medin then speaks to Ngugi wa Thiong’o, the renowned Kenyan novelist, essayist, and playwright. Imprisoned by the Kenyan government in 1977 for his Gikuyu-language theatrical projects, Ngugi later argued powerfully for African literature in African (i.e. non- colonial) languages. Since then, he has published numerous works in Gikuyu and Swahili, in addition to a host of scholarly texts in English. Recently, he has turned to memoir, and these two volumes, Dreams in a Time of War and In the House of the Interpreter, form the basis of much of his conversation with Medin. The two also discuss at length Ngugi’s commitment to African languages, and touch on the forgotten tradition of pre-1950s African-language writing. Translation takes on increasing importance as a theme as well, particularly in the context of Ngugi’s self-translations. Near the end of the conversation, Ngugi shares some of his favorite contemporary African authors, and explains why it is easier to remember childhood than anything else.


Listen to Episode 12 on That Other Word website.


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