That Other Word was a collaborative podcast between the Center for Writers and Translators at The American University of Paris and the Center for the Art of Translation in San Francisco. The podcast offered discussions on classic and contemporary literature in translation, along with engaging interviews with writers, translators, and publishers. It aired from 2012-2013 and featured the following guests:

  • Episode 1: SE interviews Lorin Stein (Editor, The Paris Review)
  • Episode 2: DM interviews Petra Hardt (Foreign Rights Director, Suhrkamp Verlag)
  • Episode 3: SE interviews Benjamin Moser (Author, Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector)
  • Episode 4: DM interviews Antoine Jaccottet (Director, Editions Le Bruit du temps)
  • Episode 5: SE interviews Margaret Jull Costa (Translator from Spanish and Portuguese into English)
  • Episode 6: DM interviews Géraldine Chognard and Sylvia Whitman (Booksellers, Shakespeare & Company and Le Comptoir des mots)
  • Episode 7: SE interviews Stephen Henighan (General Editor, International Translation Series for Biblioasis Press)
  • Episode 8: DM interviews Nick Barley (Director, Edinburgh International Book Festival)
  • Episode 9: SE interviews Ethan Nosowsky (Editorial Director, Graywolf Press)
  • Episode 10: DM interviews Esther Kinsky (Translator from Polish and English into German)
  • Episode 11: SE interviews Will Evans (Publisher, Deep Vellum Press)
  • Episode 12: DM interviews Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o (Author, In the House of the Interpreter)
  • Episode 13: SE interviews E.J. van Lannen (Publisher, Frisch & Co.)
  • Episode 14: DM interviews Deborah Smith (Translator from Korean into English)

HostsDaniel Medin and Scott Esposito
Production Assistant: Madeleine LaRue
Audio Technician: Mathieu Motta

Listen to the episodes

That Other Word: Episode 1 | Lorin Stein

March 2012

In this first episode, Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito chat about the accidental poetry and reasonable plausibility of César Aira's Varamo, the miraculous strangeness of László Krasznahorkai's Satantango, and the hopping city at the heart of Robert Walser's Berlin Stories. They also mention recent and upcoming events at their respective centers, including the CWT’s publication of the latest in The Cahiers SeriesA Labour of Moles by Ivan Vladislavić, and the upcoming visit of Jay Rubin and J. Philip Gabriel, translators of Haruki Murakami's 1Q84, at the CAT.

Afterward, Scott Esposito is joined by Lorin Stein, editor of The Paris Review and former senior editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux. They discuss editing the English version of Jean-Christophe Valtat's 03 (translated by Mitzi Angel), procuring the rights to Roberto Bolaño’s works and editing Natasha Wimmer's translations, failure and what separates translation from other kinds of writing, ‘living with books’, and why The Paris Review publishes what it does. The conversation concludes with Edouard Levé, touching on his aphoristic influences, his humor, his suicide, and his book Autoportrait, which Stein has recently translated from the French.


Table of Contents
INTRO: Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito
  • 01:00 - That Other Word's origins and ambitions
  • 02:35 - César Aira's Varamo
  • 04:27 - László Krasznahorkai's Satantango
  • 08:13 - Robert Walser's Berlin Stories
  • 12:48 - Recent events at the CWT: Helen DeWitt, Cynthia Haven, Ivan Vladislavić's A Labour of Moles
  • 13:58 - Recent and upcoming events at the CAT: Perry Link, Richard Howard, Jay Rubin and J. Philip Gabriel, Sergio Chejfec
  • 15:45 - Scott Esposito introduces Lorin Stein
FEATURE: Scott Esposito interviews Lorin Stein
  • 16:30 - Introductions and editing translations at FSG
  • 21:26 - Jean-Christophe Valtat's 03 28:23 - Roberto Bolaño's The Third Reich
  • 30:10 - The work of translating
  • 31:20 - Editing 03
  • 34:49 - Discovering, translating, and procuring the rights to Roberto Bolaño
  • 44:40 - Trends in American literature
  • 51:00 - Work at The Paris Review
  • 55:00 - Edouard Levé
That Other Word: Episode 2 | Petra Hardt

April 2012

In this episode, Scott Esposito eagerly anticipates the Dirty War in Sergio Chejfec’s The Planets, and Daniel Medin shares a delightful description of a freeloader from Nescio’s Amsterdam Stories. They discuss Daniel Sada’s Almost Never and the general robustness of contemporary Mexican fiction, attempt to explain why reading Can Xue’s Vertical Motion is like running downhill in the dark, then hesitate over whether to call Daniel Levin Becker’s Many Subtle Channels a memoir or a work of criticism, but agree that it is about Oulipo and very candid.

Daniel Medin then speaks to Petra Hardt, head of the rights department at Suhrkamp Verlag and author of Rights: Buying. Protecting. Selling. Suhrkamp is one of the most prestigious presses in Germany and in Europe, and since its founding in 1950 has published not only many of the greatest German-language writers of the twentieth century — among them Paul Celan, Theodor W. Adorno, and Thomas Bernhard — but foreign authors as well, including Samuel Beckett, Marcel Proust, and Julio Cortázar. In a series of wonderfully engaging anecdotes, Petra describes her work in rights and foreign rights, how that work is changing in the digital age, and why her book is intended for new presses in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

Table of Contents
INTRO: Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito
  • 00:47 - Sergio Chejfec’s My Two Worlds and The Planets
  • 03:07 - Nescio’s Amsterdam Stories, including a reading from “The Freeloader”
  • 07:36 - Daniel Sada’s Almost Never, plus a mention of Una de dos
  • 11:12 - Can Xue’s Vertical Motion, plus Liao Yiwu’s The Corpse Walker
  • 14:07 - Daniel Levin Becker’s Many Subtle Channels
  • 16:04 - Scott Esposito introduces Petra Hardt and Suhrkamp Verlag
FEATURE: Daniel Medin interviews Petra Hardt
  • 16:43 - How Pippi Longstocking paved the way to Suhrkamp
  • 22:56 - Daily activities and responsibilities at Suhrkamp
  • 26:54 - Rights: Buying. Protecting. Selling.: a primer for small new presses
  • 34:58 - The question of digital rights
  • 38:53 - The importance of long-term planning; or, Thomas Bernhard surpasses Herman Hesse
  • 44:20 - Maintaining the backlist and finding new readers through new media
  • 46:22 - World literature at Suhrkamp: translation and acquisition
  • 48:41 - Some of Petra Hardt’s favorite contemporary authors: Marcel Beyer, Durs Grünbein, Amos Oz, Zeruya Shalev, Judith Hermann, and Josef Winkler.
That Other Word: Episode 3 | Benjamin Moser

May 2012

In this rather German conversation, Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito discuss the melancholy and pleasure in the most recent collection of W.G. Sebald’s poetry to appear in English, Across the Land and the Water: Selected Poems 1964-2001. History is a found object in Sebald, and also in December, a wintry advent calendar of thirty-nine short stories by Alexander Kluge and thirty-nine photographs by Gerhard Richter. Robert Walser’s The Walk may induce laughing out loud at the wilderness, and the thirtieth anniversary of Julio Cortázar and Carol Dunlop’s Autonauts of the Cosmoroute should inspire some very leisurely drives from Paris to Marseilles.

In the second half of the episode, Scott Esposito interviews Benjamin Moser, author of Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector. Moser has recently re-translated Lispector’s last novel, The Hour of the Star, and is currently editing a series of four of her earlier works for New Directions (Near to the Wild Heart, A Breath of Life, Agua Viva, and The Passion According to G.H.). He talks about falling in love with Lispector, his missionary urge to promote her work, The Hour of the Star’s stylistic strangeness and surprising pathos, and why online grammar forums make the work of translation less lonely.

Table of Contents
INTRO: Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito
  • 01:50 - W.G. Sebald’s Across the Land and the Water: Selected Poems 1964-2001
  • 03:44 - Alexander Kluge and Gerhard Richter’s December, including a reading from “6 December 1989”
  • 09:54 - Robert Walser’s The Walk
  • 13:03 - Julio Cortázar and Carol Dunlop’s Autonauts of the Cosmoroute, plus Cortázar’s From the Observatory
  • 17:22 - Daniel Medin introduces Benjamin Moser
FEATURE: Scott Esposito interviews Benjamin Moser
  • 19:30 - How the new translations of Clarice Lispector came to be
  • 25:39 - Writing Why This World and generating interest in Lispector’s work
  • 30:52 - Translating The Hour of the Star, Lispector’s unusual style, and working with four different translators to create one author’s voice
  • 40:12 - The origins and afterlife of The Hour of the Star
  • 48:00 - The tools of translation; discovering new authors
That Other Word: Episode 4 | Antoine Jaccottet

June 2012

This episode’s opening conversation celebrates literature from Eastern Europe: Daniel Medin, speaking from Book Expo America in New York City, is impressed with Mikhail Shishkin’s forthcoming novel Maidenhair, and Scott Esposito loves Marek Bieńczyk’s genre-bending Transparency. They hope that Julius Margolin’s memoir from the Gulag, Voyage au pays des Ze-Ka will make its way into English soon, and in the meantime they enjoy the biting humor of Éric Chevillard’s Prehistoric Times and Demolishing Nisard. Finally, Contemporary Georgian Fiction, the latest in Dalkey Archive Press’ series of regional anthologies, provides a welcome introduction to writing from an often-overlooked country.

Daniel Medin then speaks to Antoine Jaccottet, who founded the Paris-based press Le Bruit du Temps in 2008 and has since brought out an admirable collection of works in translation, collected works, memoirs, poetry, and philosophy. He has stated that the press’s mission is to publish, if possible, “constellations of books rather than books in isolation. A bit like a musical season: we establish projects around an author (Browning), a book (The Tempest), a theme.” He speaks about the publishing program of Le Bruit du Temps, the importance of translation, Robert BrowningIsaac BabelJulius MargolinVirginia WoolfZbigniew Herbert, and Osip Mandelstam. The conversation concludes with a bilingual reading: Medin recites Gabriel Levin’s poem “In Alexandria” in the original English, and Jaccottet reads the beautiful French translation by Emmanuel Moses.

Table of Contents
INTRO: Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito
  • 01:00 - Mikhail Shishkin’s Maidenhair, including a reading from one of his essays
  • 05:14 - Marek Bieńczyk’s Transparency
  • 06:33 - Julius Margolin’s Gulag memoir, Voyage au pays des Ze-Ka
  • 07:59 - Éric Chevillard’s Prehistoric Times, plus a mention of Demolishing Nisard
  • 10:35 - Dalkey Archive Press’ Contemporary Georgian Fiction
  • 11:39 - Scott Esposito and Daniel Medin introduce Antoine Jaccottet
FEATURE: Daniel Medin interviews Antoine Jaccottet
  • 14:50 - The founding and naming of Le Bruit du Temps
  • 17:55 - Bringing new life to old masterpieces; Mandelstam’s Le Timbre égyptien
  • 21:38 - Publishing programs as concert seasons; works surrounding Robert Browning
  • 25:10 - The place of translation at Le Bruit du Temps
  • 29:50 - The complete works of Zbigniew Herbert: Corde de lumiere: Œuvres poétiques complètes I and Le Labyrinthe au bord de la mer
  • 32:26 - Julius Margolin’s Voyage au pays des Ze-Ka 37:42 - Gabriel Levin’s Ostraca
  • 42:11 - A reading of Gabriel Levin’s In Alexandria/À Alexandrie
That Other Word: Episode 5 | Margaret Jull Costa

September 2012

Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito return to the second season of That Other Word energized by the translators’ duels at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the great work being done at the UK-based press And Other Stories. They look forward to new works in translation this fall, including Antonio Tabucchi's The Flying Creatures of Fra Angelico, Basque author and Edinburgh guest Bernardo Atxaga's Seven Hours in France, and the latest from César Aira, The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira. Daniel Medin hopes that several novels generating interest in Germany and France — Jenny Erpenbeck's Aller Tage AbendClemens J. Setz's Indigo, and Jean Echenoz's 14 — will soon be translated as well.

Afterward, Scott Esposito sits down with Margaret Jull Costa, a distinguished translator from Spanish and Portuguese who has brought Javier Marías, José Saramago, and Eça de Queiroz into English. She is the winner of numerous literary awards for translation, including the IMPAC Dublin award for her version of Marías' A Heart So White. She speaks about her twenty-five year career, her pragmatic approach to translation, her favorite authors and her love of the nineteenth century, as well her thoughts on the evolution of Javier Marías' style and his latest novel, which she has translated as The Infatuations.


Table of Contents
INTRO: Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito
  • 01:00 - Antonio Tabucchi’s The Flying Creatures of Fra Angelico
  • 03:00 - Edinburgh International Book Festival; And Other Stories
  • 07:20 - Cesar Aira’s The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira
  • 08:02 - Bernardo Atxaga’s Seven Houses in France (links to CAT interviews and such)
  • 08:55 - Jenny Erpenbeck’s Aller Tage Abend, Clemens J. Setz’s Indigo, and Jean Echenoz’s 14
  • 10:48 - Scott Esposito introduces Margaret Jull Costa
FEATURE: Scott Esposito interviews Margaret Jull Costa
  • 12:12 - Introductions; first experiences with translation
  • 17:22 - First encounter with Javier Marías and gaining traction in the field
  • 20:10 - Questions and approaches to translation
  • 23:27 - Margaret Jull Costa’s favorite authors; Tolstoy in translation
  • 25:43 - Producing new translations; Eça de Queiroz and the nineteenth century
  • 31:32 - Translating and publishing Marías’ All Souls and early novels
  • 36:18 - Winning the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for Marías’ A Heart So White
  • 38:42 - Consulting with Javier Marías; Margaret Jull Costa’s working process
  • 41:09 - The evolution of Marías’ style; The Infatuations
That Other Word: Episode 6 | Geraldine Chognard & Sylvia Whitman

October 2012

In this episode, Daniel Medin and Scott Eposito revisit Robert Walser's Microscripts in its new illustrated paperback edition, and look forward to another take on that author’s work, the strange and musical “monologue for multiple voices” that is Elfriede Jelinek's Her Not All Her: On/With Robert Walser. They discuss the reconstructed romances in Jacqueline Raoul-Duval's Kafka In Love and the well-earned praise for Stig Sæterbakken's Self-Control. They hope that Dalkey Archive Press’ Arvo Pärt in Conversation will bring about a resurgence in the genre of conversations, and tip their hats to Seagull Books for publishing two works by the 2012 Nobel Laureate Mo Yan, Change and the forthcoming Pow!

Daniel Medin then speaks to two booksellers in Paris about introducing and promoting literature in translation, challenges to bookselling in the age of Amazon, and the idea of the bookshop as community center.

Géraldine Chognard manages Le Comptoir des Mots (near the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris’ twentieth arrondissement) and co-runs the small press Cambourakis, which specializes in literature in translation and has published Stanley Elkin and László Krasznahorkai, among others. She speaks about Librest, a cooperative effort among seven bookshops in eastern Paris, and ways to promote new works in translation. She mentions Le Comptoir des Mots’ successful poet-in-residence program, which has already hosted Frédéric Forte, a member of Oulipo, and Benoît Casas, and comments on Cambourakis’ upcoming publishing projects, including the French translation of Krasznahorkai’s War & War.

Sylvia Whitman took over Shakespeare and Company, Paris’ best-known anglophone bookshop, from her father, George Whitman, five years ago. She talks about appreciating the shop’s history and her efforts to expand its mission, the joys of reading in multiple languages, and the unique position of anglophone booksellers in France. She reveals Shakespeare and Company’s bestselling titles and recommends some of her staff’s recent favorites.

Table of Contents
INTRO: Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito
  • 01:06 - Robert Walser’s Microscripts
  • 02:00 - Elfriede Jelinek’s Her Not All Her: On/With Robert Walser
  • 05:55 - Jacqueline Raoul-Duval’s Kafka In Love
  • 06:57 - Stig Sæterbakken’s Self-Control, plus his essay “Why I Always Listen to Such Sad Music,” published in Music and Literature
  • 08:25 - Dalkey Archive Press’ Arvo Pärt in Conversation
  • 09:09 - Works by Mo Yan: Change and Pow!
  • 10:35 - Scott Esposito and Daniel Medin introduce Géraldine Chognard and Sylvia Whitman
FEATURE, PART 1: Daniel Medin interviews Géraldine Chognard
  • 12:02 - The role of book stores in introducing and promoting works in translation, with a mention of Reinhard Jirgl
  • 15:47 - Librest and cooperative efforts with other booksellers and presses in Paris
  • 18:30 - Le Comptoir des Mots’ poet-in-residence program
  • 21:04 - Géraldine Chognard recommends: Céline Minard
  • 22:08 - Krasznahorkai’s War & War, plus his Au nord par une montagne, au sud par un lac, à l’ouest par les chemins, à l’est par un cours d’eau
FEATURE, PART 2: Daniel Medin interviews Sylvia Whitman
  • 26:13 - Learning to run Shakespeare and Company
  • 28:15 - ‘Life in translation’: Living between languages; reading and promoting literature in translation
  • 31:00 - On being an anglophone bookseller in France
  • 35:01 - Contemporary challenges to bookselling, and Shakespeare and Company’s solutions
  • 41:30 - Festivals and events at Shakespeare and Company
  • 45:38 - Noëlle Revaz’s With the Animals, Raymond Queneau, and being well-displaced
  • 48:20 - Sylvia Whitman recommends: Jean-Philippe Toussaint; Edouard Levé; Dimitri Verhulst’s Madame Verona Comes Down the Hills; Gerbrand Bakker; Per Petterson; and Emmanuel Carrère’s Limonov
  • 49:54 - Anglophone authors and books Sylvia Whitman is currently reading
That Other Word: Episode 7 | Stephen Henighan

November 2012

This month, hosts Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito begin by talking about books they haven’t read, but are eager to: the young Mexican novelist Juan Pablo Villalobos’ Down the Rabbit Hole, which continues to attract praise from all corners; and two works by Marie Chaix, The Laurels of Lake Constance and the forthcoming Silences, or a Woman’s Life, both of which have been translated by Chaix’s husband, the American Oulipian Harry Mathews. Daniel Medin enthuses about two stories in the latest issue of Granta, The Best of Young Brazilian Novelists: Daniel Galera’s dynamic “Aponea” and Michel Laub’s “Animals,” which Adam Thirlwell calls a “matryoshka feat.” Continuing along in the Portuguese vein, Scott Esposito introduces Mia Couto’s The Tuner of Silences, a recently-translated novel from a fascinating Mozambican writer.

Scott Esposito then speaks to Stephen Henighan, a novelist, critic, and translator from Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian. Since 2006, Henighan has been general editor for the International Translation Series at the Canadian-based press Biblioasis. He talks about immigrant experiences in Canada and his own “deeply-rooted rootlessness,” the Canadian relationship to English and translation, and the challenges of procuring and producing translations for the Canadian market. He discusses Mia Couto’s “rural modernism,” his literary influences, and why the author travels well, despite being essentially “untranslatable.” Finally, Henighan tells the comical and haphazard story of how he came to learn Romanian, and describes the process of translating and trying to publish Mihail Sebastian’s The Accident.

Table of Contents
INTRO: Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito
  • 01:00 - Juan Pablo Villalobos’ Down the Rabbit Hole
  • 02:39 - Marie Chaix’s The Laurels of Lake Constance and Silences, or a Woman’s Life
  • 04:00 - Granta’s The Best Brazilian Novelists
  • 08:04 - Mia Couto’s The Tuner of Silences
  • 08:50 - Scott Esposito introduces Stephen Henighan and Biblioasis
FEATURE: Scott Esposito interviews Stephen Henighan
  • 10:33 - Coming to translation; traveling, immigrating, writing
  • 16:07 - Translating as and for Canadians
  • 25:49 - Biblioasis International Translation Series: getting started with Ryszard Kapuscinski, Ondjaki, and Horacio Castellanos Moya
  • 32:22 - Mia Couto and Lusophone African authors
  • 42:55 - Marketing translations in Canada
  • 45:58 - Biblioasis’ goals and the importance of translation to language
  • 51:54 - Learning and translating from Romanian; Mihail Sebastian’s The Accident
That Other Word: Episode 8 | Nick Barley

January 2013

Hosts Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito return in the new year enthralled by the “absolutely insane” game of literary telephone in the latest issue of McSweeney’s, in which texts are translated in and out of English and by, among others, J.M. Coetzee, Enrique Vila-Matas, and Lydia Davis. They look forward to games of a slightly different nature in several forthcoming Oulipian works: the 65th anniversary edition of Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in StyleGeorges Perec’s La Boutique Obscure, the dream journal that inspired much of his fiction; and Scott Esposito’s own The End of Oulipo?, a critical examination of the movement co-written with Lauren Elkin. Pierre Michon’s The Eleven promises to be one of the author’s best since his widely-respected Small Lives; Yasutaka Tsutsui’s Paprika is story of clinical dream-invaders from one of Japan’s premier science fiction writers. Daniel Medin also announces the launch of the eighteenth volume in The Cahiers SeriesElfriede Jelinek’s Her Not All Her, next month at the Goethe-Institut in Paris.

Nick Barley is the director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the largest and perhaps best-known literary festival in the world. He gives a lively account of Edinburgh’s literary heritage and the influence it still exerts on the atmosphere of the festival, and testifies to the continuing importance of such festivals for both authors and readers. He explains the origins of 2012’s International Writers Conference, at which authors from around the world were asked questions about the relationship between art and politics and the future of the novel. He reflects on the surprising appetite last year’s audiences showed for translation-related events, and shares several of his own favorite works, of both Scottish and foreign origin, from 2012.

Table of contents
INTRO: Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito
  • 01:00 - McSweeney’s Issue 42: “Multiples”
  • 05:43 - Oulipian works: Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style; Georges Perec’s La Boutique Obscure: 124 Dreams; Scott Esposito and Lauren Elkin’s The End of Oulipo?: An Attempt to Exhaust a Movement
  • 09:25 - Pierre Michon’s The Eleven
  • 11:21 - Yasutaka Tsutsui’s Paprika
  • 12:00 - Launch of Her Not All Her
  • 13:43 - Daniel Medin introduces Nick Barley
FEATURE: Daniel Medin interviews Nick Barley
  • 15:40 - Introducing the Edinburgh International Book Festival
  • 22:09 - The continuing importance of festivals and the International Writer’s Conference
  • 28:56 - How Nick Barley came to be involved with the festival
  • 31:20 - Reaching beyond the Anglosphere
  • 36:28 - Highlights of 2012 and translation-related events at the festival
  • 40:05 - Some of Nick Barley’s favorite books from 2012, including Herta Müller’s The Hunger Angel, Alasdair Gray’s Every Short Story, and Kirsty Gunn’s The Big Music
That Other Word: Episode 9 | Ethan Nosowsky

February 2013

At the beginning of this episode, Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito are happy, along with the rest of the Anglosphere, to be rediscovering Nikolai Leskov’s The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories, newly translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. They also look forward to a recent success from the Netherlands that’s been making waves abroad, Arnon Grunberg’s Tirza, and take an anecdote-filled trip through modernity in Roberto Calasso’s La Folie Baudelaire. They continue to be impressed by Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle: Book Two: A Man in Love, the second volume in a hugely ambitious series that describes (albeit amid a number of digressions) how the author fell in love with his wife.

Scott Esposito then sits down with Ethan Nosowsky, a former Editor-at-Large at Graywolf Press who has recently been named Editorial Director at McSweeney’s. Nosowsky discusses his early career and several of his experiences with editing translations at Graywolf, most notably with regard to Daniel Sada’s Almost Never. He talks not only about seeking out great Mexican writers and getting to know Sada’s work, but also about the working relationship he developed with translator Katherine Silver as she produced the English version. He muses on what makes a manuscript in general attractive to him as an editor and explains McSweeney’s innovative publishing model. In conclusion, Nosowsky enthuses about the latest issue of McSweeney’s Quarterly, which has been described as a long game of “translation telephone,” and resolves to pursue more literature from China.

Table of contents
INTRO: Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito
  • 00:45 - Nikolai Leskov’s The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories
  • 03:28 - Arnon Grunberg’s Tirza
  • 04:52 - Roberto Calasso’s La Folie Baudelaire
  • 08:13 - Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle: Book Two: A Man in Love
  • 12:52 - Scott Esposito introduces Ethan Nosowsky
FEATURE: Scott Esposito interviews Ethan Nosowsky
  • 14:13 - Getting into publishing; first experiences with editing translations
  • 22:42 - Working relationships with translators and authors at Graywolf
  • 28:44 - Procuring, translating, and publishing Daniel Sada’s Almost Never
  • 36:42 - Transitioning to McSweeney’s; recent and forthcoming translations at McSweeney’s
  • 50:02 - McSweeney’s profit-sharing publication and publicity models
  • 52:16 - McSweeney’s Quarterly translation issue
That Other Word - Episode 10 | Esther Kinsky

April 2013

Prompted by the forthcoming publication of Italo Calvino’s Letters 1941-1985, hosts Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito embark on a discussion of literary lives and letters. They touch upon the marvelous correspondences of Thomas Bernhard and William Gaddis, and look forward to the lectures collected in Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature. Reiner Stach’s Kafka: The Years of Insight, technically the final volume in a biographical trilogy, represents a welcome addition to English-language Kafka scholarship. Curzio Malaparte’s The Skin, a grotesque and haunting semi-autobiographical tale of the Second World War, returns after many years out of print. The introduction closes with a plea from the hosts to Anglophone publishers not to ignore biographies produced elsewhere: Michel Winock’s Flaubert and Madame de Staël, among many others, they argue, deserve a broader readership.

Daniel Medin is then joined by Esther Kinsky, a poet and translator from Polish, Russian, and English into German. Her speciality is Polish literature from the First World War to the 1960’s, and she offers wonderful introductions to some of her favorite writers of that period, including Zygmunt Haupt, who lived in the United States and continued to write in Polish even though his own children did not speak the language, Wiesław Myśliwski, whose Stone Upon Stone recently appeared in English, and Joanna Bator, whose poetic works Kinsky is currently translating In their conversation, Kinsky and Medin discuss the lives and work of these writers, consider what has kept Eastern European (and particularly Hungarian) poetry and fiction so robust, and discuss the revival of reportage as a genre in Poland. Esther Kinsky also shares an enchanting story about what prompted her to become a translator, muses on the relationship between translating and writing, and mentions her own newest book of prose, whose German title, Fremdsprechen, she roughly translates as “talking something into foreignness.”

Table of contents
INTRO: Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito
  • 00:50 - Italo Calvino’s Letters 1941-1985 and other literary correspondence
  • 03:45 - Professor Borges: A Course in English Literature
  • 04:19 - Reiner Stach’s Kafka: The Years of Insight
  • 08:20 - Curzio Malaparte’s The Skin
  • 10:05 - Michel Winock’s Flaubert and Madame de Staël
  • 12:08 - Daniel Medin introduces Esther Kinsky
​FEATURE: Scott Esposito interviews Esther Kinsky
  • 13:58 - Esther Kinsky's favorite literatures; the Polish writers Miron Białoszewski, Zygmunt Haupt, Wiesław Myśliwski
  • 25:25 - The continuing robustness of Eastern European literature
  • 30:35 - Esther Kinsky’s life in translation: recent and current work, including Joanna Bator’s Sandberg (Sand Mountain) and its sequel Wolkenfern; original interest in translation
  • 38:13 - Travel and translation; Esther Kinsky’s relationship to her languages and presses
  • 42:17 - Why translation is good training for becoming a writer and poet; living in Hungary and the resulting ‘foreignness’ of German
  • 50:00 - Fremdsprechen; recent favorite reads and underrepresented authors in English: László Darvasi, István Kemény, Ryszard Szociński, Jacek Gutorow, Adam Wiedemann, Julia Fiedorczuk
That Other Word - Episode 11 | Will Evans

September 2013

Hosts Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito return after a summer of reading full of praise for a characteristically broad range of texts. First, they delight over Robert Walser’s A Schoolboy’s Diary and Other Stories, a newly-translated collection which features several original illustrations by Walser’s brother, and a long-awaited selected poems in English from an under-appreciated Italian poet, Patrizia Cavalli’s My Poems Won’t Change the World, translated by “a host of luminaries.” Jáchym Topol’s The Devil’s Workshop provides a dose of clever Eastern European gallows humor, and Giocomo Leopardi’s Zibaldone proves, at over 2500 pages, to be a brilliant addition to one’s nightstand. Finally, the hosts express their deep admiration and gratitude for a house favorite, László Krasznahorkai’s Seiobo There Below, which represents a culmination of thirty years of the author’s work.

In the second half of the episode, Scott Esposito speaks to Will Evans, publisher and founder of Deep Vellum Press in Dallas, Texas. Their lively conversation opens with the story of how Deep Vellum got its “cheeky and irreverent” name and a discussion of Texas’ thriving literary and cultural scene. Evans speaks in detail about his decision to found a press, his close collaboration with Chad Post of Open Letter Books, and the historical, financial, and intellectual considerations in becoming a publisher of literature in translation. After waxing enthusiastic about his favorite presses and authors, Evans lays out Deep Vellum’s inaugural catalogue. Reflecting his profound commitment to equal gender representation among his authors, Evans introduces Anne Garréta, the politically radical Oulipian whose novel Sphinx is a genderless love story; Sergio Pitol, the great Mexican novelist whose Trilogy of Memory Deep Vellum will bring into English; Mikhail Shishkin, who is of particular interest to Evans due to his background in Russian, and whose short stories should appeal to anyone who loved Maidenhair; and Carmen Boullosa, another Mexican writer whose novel Texas supports Evan’s abiding wish to explore Texas’ relationship with its southern neighbor.

Table of contents
INTRO: Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito
  • 00:55 - Robert Walser’s A Schoolboy’s Diary and Other Stories
  • 02:32 - Patrizia Cavalli’s My Poems Won’t Change the World: Selected Poems
  • 03:40 - Jáchym Topol’s The Devil’s Workshop
  • 06:47 - Giocomo Leopardi’s Zibaldone
  • 09:27 - László Krasznahorkai’s Seiobo There Below
FEATURE: Scott Esposito interviews Will Evans
  • 12:47 - How Deep Vellum got its name; the Texas literary scene
  • 19:52 - Founding Deep Vellum
  • 34:24 - Will Evans’ favorite presses and authors
  • 40:10 - Anne Garétta and Sphinx
  • 45:58 - Sergio Pitol and The Trilogy of Memory
  • 51:10 - Mikhail Shishkin and his short stories
  • 56:38 - Carmen Boullosa and Texas
That Other Word - Episode 12 | Ngugi wa Thiong’o

October 2013

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 Loveis 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.

Table of contents
INTRO: Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito
  • 00:54 - Orly Castel-Bloom’s Textile
  • 02:22 - Mircea Cărtărescu’s Blinding, Book 1: The Left Wing
  • 06:56 - Rodrigo Rey Rosa’s The African Shore
  • 08:41 - Marcos Giralt Torrente’s The End of Love
  • 12:11 - Daniel Medin introduces Ngugi wa Thiong’o
FEATURE: Daniel Medin interviews Ngugi wa Thiong’o
  • 13:36 - The question of language and genre
  • 18:35 - Choosing to work in Gikuyu and inventing a literary tradition
  • 26:06 - Contemporary African writing in colonial and non-colonial languages; economic and political challenges to distribution
  • 42:51 - The importance of translation and self-translation
  • 51:08 - Dreams in a Time of War and In the House of the Interpreter
  • 1:00:00 - Some of Ngugi’s favorite contemporary African authors
That Other Word - Episode 13 | E.J. Van Lanen

As the year comes to a close, hosts Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito discuss some recent and unexpected favorite reads. As a judge for next year’s Best Translated Book Award, Daniel Medin recommends Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq’s Leg Over Leg, a four-volume, nineteenth-century classic of the Arab world whose cleverness and savage sense of humor has been likened to Rabelais and Sterne. Scott Esposito looks forward to Wiesław Myśliwski’s A Treatise on Shelling Beans; the author’s Stone Upon Stone received the BTBA last year. Hilda Hilst’s Letters from a Seducer, in an especially brilliant translation by John Keene, prompts an exploration of scandalous writing: Hilst has been called the “Marquis de Sade of Brazil.” The hosts then make an exception to the podcast’s theme to praise an English-language novel, Ivan Vladislavić’s Double Negative and its introduction by Teju Cole, from which Daniel Medin reads a paragraph. The introduction wraps up with Jung Young-moon’s A Most Ambiguous Sunday, and Other Stories, an eccentric collection of short stories from Dalkey Archive’s Korean library.

After that, Scott Esposito speaks with E.J. Van Lanen, a former editor at Open Letter and now publisher at Frisch & Co., a new translation press based in Berlin. Frisch & Co. is unique in that it publishes exclusively e-books, drawing on the catalogues of some of Europe’s oldest and most respected publishers for its translations. E.J. Van Lanen explains the reasons behind choosing Berlin as a base and e-books as a product, and discusses his own history of reading electronically (and divulging his favorite e-reading software in the process). He then details several aspects of his publishing venture, from his relationships with the European presses, translators, and authors, to pricing and the online market, to the challenges of distribution and attracting readers. Near the end of the conversation, he speaks about some of Frisch & Co.’s first titles: Anna Kim’s Anatomy of a Night, which examines an unplanned mass suicide in Greenland; Carlos Busqued’s Under This Terrible Sun, about a man’s descent into a criminal world in northern Argentina, plus Adrián N. Bravi’s The Comb-Over and other forthcoming novels: Elisa Ruotolo’s I Stole the Rain, Joaquín Pérez Azaústre’s The Swimmers, and Uwe Tellkamp’s The Tower.

Table of contents
INTRO: Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito
  • 00:57 - Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq’s Leg Over Leg
  • 03:18 - Wiesław Myśliwski’s A Treatise on Shelling Beans
  • 04:26 - Hilda Hilst’s Letters from a Seducer
  • 08:40 - Ivan Vladislavić’s Double Negative
  • 12:14 - Jung Young-moon’s A Most Ambiguous Sunday, and Other Stories
FEATURE: Scott Esposito interviews E.J. Van Lanen
  • 18:56 - Introductions; choosing Berlin and e-books
  • 25:05 - Relationships with European presses and translators
  • 37:26 - The e-reading experience
  • 42:35 - Pricing e-books; choosing and distributing titles
  • 58:11 - Frisch & Co.’s titles
That Other Word - Episode 14 | Deborah Smith

February 2014

This month, hosts Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito are sorry to have to finish Minae Mizumura’s A True Novel, a deeply impressive book that re-imagines Wuthering Heights in postwar Japan. Through the brand new translations of Honoré de Balzac’s The Human Comedy: Selected Stories and Natsume Sōseki’s Light and Dark, they enjoy re-discovering the honored classics of the French and Japanese traditions respectively. Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s Definitely Maybe offers a surreal science fiction romp from the Russian writers who inspired Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, while the essays in Dubravka Ugrešić’s Europe in Sepia examine the surreal, the pessimistic, and the hilarious, from the former Yugoslavia into Europe and beyond.

In the second part of the episode, Daniel Medin speaks with Deborah Smith, a translator from Korean to English based in London. Smith gives a fascinating overview of the history of Korean fiction, including its particular formal and generic development in the twentieth century, and describes the major characteristics — and appeal — of contemporary Korean literature, to her mind one of the world’s finest and most consistently robust. The conversation then moves onto Jung Young-moon, one of the oddest but best-respected writers working in Korea today, whose collection of short stories, A Most Ambiguous Sunday, was recently published as part of Dalkey Archive Press’ Library of Korean Literature. Jung Young-moon is followed by Han Kang, whose novel The Vegetarian (forthcoming in Smith’s translation) is a clever, politically sensitive triptych revolving around one woman’s decision to give up eating meat.

Table of contents
INTRO: Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito
  • 0:50 Minae Mizumura’s A True Novel
  • 5:34 Honoré de Balzac’s The Human Comedy: Selected Stories
  • 8:02 Natsume Soseki’s Light and Dark
  • 10:34 Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s Definitely Maybe
  • 12:34 Dubravka Ugrešić’s Europe in Sepia
FEATURE: Daniel Medin interviews Deborah Smith
  • 15:24 Introductions; first acquaintance with the Korean language and literature
  • 18:19 Characteristics of contemporary Korean literature
  • 22:13 Jung Young-moonand the Dalkey Archive series
  • 29:56 Han Kang and The Vegetarian