Literature in Translation

The Polyphonic Gospel

At one point in Umberto Eco’s novel Foucault’s Pendulum the narrator speculates about how the Gospels came to be written: “Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are a bunch of practical jokers who meet ...

Japan’s Isolation 2.0

The taxi driver who took me from Tokyo train station to my hotel had turned his cell phone sideways, like a television, and propped it up on the dashboard of his car. He was watching a historical ...

Taking Sides Against God

While mostly forgotten today, Danish writer Jens Peter Jacobsen was widely admired by his 19th-century contemporaries and went on to inspire the likes of Rainer Maria Rilke, Thomas Mann, and James ...

Legacies of Italian Marxism

“A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of Communism.” What was left of this seemingly ominous prospect a century after the publication of Karl Marx and ...

Somalia and Italy across a Century

The United Nations Refugee Agency has calculated that, by the end of 2016, there were almost 68 million “persons of concern” (refugees, asylum seekers, and other vulnerable groups) living on this ...

Spanish Civil Wars

“Is this Barcelona?” The question sets the tone for the final scenes of Sebastià Alzamora’s novel Blood Crime. It comes from the thoughts of a young religious man, a member of the Catholic group ...

The Author with Birds in His Head

Antonio Di Benedetto’s dreamlike, uncategorizable novel Zama was published in English translation for the first time last year, its arrival long awaited by readers ...

The Murder of Theory

Reports of theory’s death have been greatly exaggerated, but new villains keep on attempting its murder. Those who would vanquish abstraction with description, trade jargon for vernacular, and ...

Wild States of Being

A lacquered blue cube and a cat named Labes: these nonhuman characters shed unforgiving light on human frailty in the wrenching new novel by Italian writer Domenico Starnone, Ties, scrupulously ...

Ferrante’s Secret Mirror

Last fall’s noisy dispute around Elena Ferrante’s biographical identity ignited a wealth of contrasting yet instructive reactions. Whether troubled or newly admiring or indifferent to the apparent ...

Soccer for Intellectuals

Baseball has Roger Angell. Boxing has A. J. Liebling. Yet soccer, puzzlingly, has no writer of such caliber, no one who has managed to find in the sport a comparably inexhaustible source of literary ...

Benjamin’s Dream City

Early in The Storyteller, a collection of short pieces that includes fables and parables, diary entries and dream notes, the critic Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) writes of a young girl living and ...