Guest Post: Vanessa Blakeslee, Why I Read Translations

Less than one-percent of international literature is translated into English every year, an abysmally low number by any account. Occasionally, a translated author breaks through with a bestselling hit, such as Elena Ferrante’s trilogy of Neapolitan novels. But those successes largely depend on media coverage: glowing reviews in the New York Times and Boston Globe, features in commercial magazines, Vogue and O. What about the many authors who might be fortunate to have their works translated into English, but who remain relatively unnoticed by the reading public—even by devotees of literary fiction? Even authors who write in English but reside out the United States struggle to obtain mainstream readership and name-recognition stateside as compared to within their home country.

I’m not sure when I decided to devote more of my reading time to discovering international authors. A few years ago I started to review books for literary magazines, and sometimes editors suggested titles or ARCs that had arrived in the office of say, the Kenyon Review, and offered them for assignment. Not only did I delight in discovering stunning masters of fiction—Kevin Barry is one, author of City of Bohane, set in a dystopian future Ireland—but I relished the distance reviewing books by authors abroad gave me. Like it or not, in the U.S., many fiction writers and reviewers belong to the same circle. Knowing that I had less of a chance of running into Barry at a reading or conference made writing an honest critique of his work a more liberating and enlivening endeavor.

Other international titles came to me by way of friends, such as the satirical novel Lovestar by Icelandic writer Andre Magnason; my ex-boyfriend met the author briefly and passed along a copy to me. The more I reviewed and met others who did, the more I received recommendations of international fiction writers to actively seek out. Critic John Domini’s reviews led me to read Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, but more importantly, two novels by German author Jenny Erpenbeck, The End of Days and Visitation. Much acclaimed on the international literary scene, Erpenbeck is lesser known to the mainstream American reading public, certainly less so than the oft-spotlit Ferrante.

Delving into international literature inevitably leads you as a reader to become familiar with the presses bringing such stellar work to an English-speaking audience. Europa, New Directions, New American Press, Dalky Archive, and Restless Press all publish fiction in translation—presses I’ve come to keep my eye on, whose catalogues I eagerly devour as soon as they drop through my mail slot.

Such presses and their translators do a great service by taking risks and bringing much-deserved talent to a North American audience. Some authors, such as Kevin Barry, whose City of Bohane was first published in the U.S. by Graywolf, eventually make the leap to a major publisher and distribution (Barry’s recent Beatlebone was released by Doubleday), and hopefully, a wider audience. But most importantly, these presses, authors, and translators deserve your attention and support whether or not their authors ever get picked up by a Big 5 publisher. By exploring foreign authors you probably haven’t heard of, your literary landscape will grow more colorful and rewarding, treading imaginative terrain you’d never expect.

SR Pod/Vod Series, Recording: Kevin McLellan

Kevin McLellanThis Tuesday, we are proud to feature a podcast of SR contributor Kevin McLellan reading his poetry from Issue 17.

You can follow along with Kevin’s four poems in Superstition Review, Issue 17.

More about the author:

Kevin McLellan is the author of: Tributary (Barrow Street); the chapbook Round Trip(Seven Kitchens), a collaborative series with numerous women poets; and the book arts project [box] (Letter [r] Press). The chapbook Shoes on a wire (Split Oak Press) is forthcoming. McLellan won the 2015 Third Coast Poetry Prize, and his poems have appeared in journals including: American Letters & Commentary, Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, Kenyon Review, Superstition Review, West Branch, Western Humanities Review, Witness, and several others. Kevin lives in Cambridge MA.

SR Pod/Vod Series: Poet Molly Brodak

Each Tuesday we feature audio or video of an SR Contributor reading their work. Today we’re proud to feature a podcast by Molly Brodak.

Molly Brodak is from Michigan and currently lives in Georgia. Her poems have recently appeared in Field, Kenyon Review Online, Bateau, Ninth Letter, Colorado Review, and her first book A Little Middle of the Night, won the 2009 Iowa Poetry Prize.

You can read along with her poems in Issue 6 of Superstition Review.

To subscribe to our iTunes U channel, go to http://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/superstition-review-online/id552593273

Guest Blog Post, Brooke Passey: Top Ten Literary Newsletters

Before I started as an intern for Superstition Review, I wasn’t aware that most literary magazines and organizations send out biweekly newsletters. As I’ve become more acquainted with the literary scene, I’ve realized just how much information I have been missing. Let’s talk about why newsletters in general are so great.

First of all, newsletters are one of the best resources for compact and relevant literary information. They cover literary news, updates and advice from published authors, upcoming literary events, and articles on a wide range of beneficial writing topics.

Better yet, the information comes to you—delivered right to your inbox. Other sources of information such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google Reader are useful, but newsletters allow you to get the information as soon as it is published. Most newsletters are monthly or biweekly, so they won’t ever crowd your inbox.

Most importantly, they’re free! And who doesn’t like free things? Especially free things that help you to become a better writer, be involved in a network with successful authors, and stay up to date in the field.

Over the last few months I have subscribed to over 20 newsletters not only to improve my own writing skills, but also to take advantage of all the beneficial, interesting, and free information. Here are my top 10 newsletters. They are my favorites because they have consistently provided fresh and useful information along with dependable resources.

  1. Poets & Writers http://www.pw.org
  2. Poets.org https://www.poets.org
  3. The Paris Review http://www.theparisreview.org
  4. The Review Review http://www.thereviewreview.net
  5. The Nervous Breakdown http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com
  6. Tin House http://www.tinhouse.com
  7. Creative Nonfiction https://www.creativenonfiction.org
  8. Willow Springs http://willowsprings.ewu.edu
  9. Five Points http://www.fivepoints.gsu.edu
  10. Kenyon Review http://www.kenyonreview.org

And of course I recommend our own newsletter here at Superstition Review. Even my own mother subscribed recently. So join our mailing list by clicking here.