William McPherson, one-time daily book editor at The Washington Post and later founding editor of its Book World section, will be in conversation with current Washington Post literary critic Michael Dirda on the former’s debut novel, Testing the Current, at Politics and Prose in Washington D.C. on Saturday, January 26th at 6:00 p.m. Testing the Current was originally published to critical acclaim in 1984—Russell Banks called it “permanent contribution to the literature of family, childhood and memory”—and recent reviews concur.
"Unmarred by sentimentality, false epiphanies, or forced drama, this novel both elegantly depicts a specific class in a specific time and conveys with rare understanding and subtlety the inevitable poignancy of growing up."—The Atlantic
"[T]he clarity and precision of the prose, the ‘American’ voice, the focus on family, memory, time, and change — all did remind me of those two great books [William Maxwell’s So Long, See You Tomorrow and John Williams’s Stoner]. However, despite the easy comparisons, Testing the Current held me under a spell of its own making.”—The Mookse and the Gripes
NYRB Lit—our very new, ebook-only, cousin imprint—is hosting its first event with Zena el Khalil, author of Beirut, I Love You, at powerHouse Arena in Dumbo, Brooklyn tomorrow at 7 pm. It’s a ticketed event ($5) but also includes film director Gigi Roccati and fellow TED fellow tap dancer Andrew J. Nemr. Should be fun!
A reminder that Peter Bush, translator of Ramón del Valle-Inclán’s Tyrant Banderas, will be speaking today at Baruch College. Susan Bernofsky also points out that he was down the hall from W. G. Sebald at the University of East Anglia so you could ask him about that as well. Here are the details:
Baruch College - Newman Vertical Campus
55 Lexington Ave.
12:30 - 1:45
At the height of the Arab Spring a long review of Ramón Valle-Inclán’s Tirano Banderas (1926) appeared in the Barcelona daily, La Vanguardia, which pointed out that Valle’s narrative of a civil war read like a fiction written for our times. Written in reaction to the Primo de Rivera dictatorship in Spain, translated to an imaginary Latin American republic, Valle-Inclán’s story was to be an extraordinarily perceptive anticipation of the Spanish civil war as well as the literary model for subsequent novels of dictatorship written by Miguel Angel Asturias, García Márquez and Roa Bastos.
Peter Bush will discuss his experience of reading the novel and the challenges of writing a new translation—the first into English since 1929—of Valle’s Cubist, cartoon and camp representation of dictatorship in Latin America.
PETER BUSH is an award-winning literary translator who now lives in Barcelona. He was Professor of Literary Translation at Middlesex University and then at the University of East Anglia, where he directed the British Centre for Literary Translation. Recent translations include Exiled from Almost Everywhere by Juan Goytisolo, A Thousand Morons by Quim Monzó and The Sound of a Hand Killing by Teresa Solana.
Tonight at The New School (Wollman Hall, Eugene Lang Building, 65 W.11th St., 5th Fl.) at 6pm, Ken Wark, Ross Poole and Michael Taussig will be talking about the life and work of Victor Serge in honor of the publication of our edition of Memoirs of a Revolutionary, the first time the complete text has been published in English. For all event details go here.
Serge led a truly amazing life: becoming involved as a very young man in the socialist and then anarchist movements in his native Belgium; continuing his work in Paris editing the anarchist journal L’Anarchie and sentenced for five years for his connection the Bonnot Gang; moving to the newly born Soviet Union in 1918 (he was exchanged for anti-Bolshevik French citizens arrested there) where he worked for the Third International, studied the Tsarist police archives, and was sent to Germany to foment revolution; joining the Left Opposition headed by Trotsky and working hard to publicize their ideas; being arrested and sent to exile in Orenberg for three years under Stalin; returning to Belgium where he communicated and worked with Trotsky and the POUM (anarchist) movement in the Spanish Civil War; and finally sailing to Mexico where he spent the remainder of his days writing.
During all this he was able to write many novels in French, three of which NYRB Classics has published. No wonder Susan Sontag called him “one of the most compelling of twentieth-century ethical and literary heroes.” If his life and work intrigues you come to The New School tonight and learn more.