‘Mind expanding’, ‘timeless and timely’ announcing the 2020 Society of Authors Translation Prizes shortlists

The judges said of this year’s shortlist: The field for the John Florio Prize this year was immensely rich, showing the breadth and depth of contemporary Italian writing, as well as the potential for rediscovery of forgotten fragments of the literary tradition. Through the outstanding work of their translators, I enjoyed reading everything from 19th-century …

My article in Words Without Borders, Happy July 4th, and Congratulations to the US Women’s Soccer Team!

WWB Daily Notes from the Classroom: On Teaching Translation By Jenny McPhee I am old enough to remember when creative writing was something you “couldn’t teach” and was considered by the academy to be a less than legitimate area of study. (Journalism didn’t even merit a raised eyebrow.) In my youth, there were only a handful …

UNDERSTANDING THE OTHER: ELIF SHAFAK’S HONOR: My January “bombshell” column at Bookslut:

On the front and back covers of the Turkish edition of Elif Shafak's novel İskender (to be published in the U.S. as Honor), the author appears in two different poses dressed as her male protagonist İskender, a handsome, savvy-looking youth with slick hair and a five o'clock shadow wearing a stylish suit. In Shafak's story, …

ÉMILIE DU CHÂTELET: THE LADY WHO WAS A GREAT MAN, My December post at Bookslut

In a 1740 letter to an English friend, Voltaire expressed his regret at being unable to visit him, as he could not live without, even for a short period, "that lady whom I look upon as a great man and as a most solid and respectable friend. She understands Newton; she despises superstition and in …

ZELDA: THE MADWOMAN IN THE FLAPPER DRESS My November Column at Bookslut

"Is a pen a metaphorical penis?" Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar asked in their seminal study of women writers and the literary imagination The Madwoman in the Attic (1979, reissued 2011). Their answer was a resounding, if complex, yes, resulting in our most robust and far-reaching feminist literary theory to date. "In patriarchal Western culture," …

THE (IMAGINED) WOMAN READER AND MALE ANXIETY: My September Column at Bookslut

Recently, in The New York Review of Books, Elaine Blair wrote, "Our American male novelists, I suspect, are worried about being unloved as writers -- specifically by the female reader. This is the larger humiliation looming behind the many smaller fictional humiliations of their heroes, and we can see it in the way the characters' …

THE SULTANA OF SUBVERSION: THREE HARD-BOILED NOVELS BY DOROTHY B. HUGHES: My July Column at Bookslut

The serial killer Dix Steele in Dorothy B. Hughes's 1947 noir classic In a Lonely Place professes to his friend Brub Nicolai, an LAPD detective assigned to the "strangler" case, to be writing a detective novel. Brub responds: "Who you stealing from, Chandler or Hammett or Gardner?" Hughes herself stole brilliantly from her fellow pulp …

BLOOD ON THE PAPER: THE BARBED LEGACY OF LILLIAN HELLMAN–My June Column at Bookslut

Filmmaker Elia Kazan, venting his fury against Lillian Hellman's memoir Scoundrel Time in which she skewers him and other liberal artists and intellectuals for their lily-livered performances during the McCarthy Era, raged against "this bitch with balls" who "went after what she wanted the way a man does." What Kazan once considered a vitriolic attack …