Bolaño’s fears, Armenian fiction, etc.

Elissa Bassist has cataloged the phobias in Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 for The Rumpus -- a catalog that, though I’ve not yet read the book, naturally caught my eye. Among the fears:
Tricophobia: “fear of hair” (where some “cases end in suicide”)

Optophobia: “fear of opening the eyes” (this is “even worse” than the fear of eyes because “in a literal sense, it leads to violent attacks, loss of consciousness, visual and auditory hallucinations, and generally aggressive behavior”)

Phobophobia: “fear of fear itself” (Campos comments, “If you’re afraid of your own fears, you’re forced to live in constant contemplation of them, and if they materialize, what you have is a system that feeds on itself, a vicious cycle.”)
Last night, it so happens, Natasha Wimmer received the PEN Translation Prize for 2666. According to the judges, Wimmer’s “moving translation... perfectly matches the considerable emotional heft of this vast, man-faceted novel, now rightly seen as a milestone in world literature.”

Also celebrated last night were the PEN Translation Fund Grants, which “support the translation of book-length works of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, or drama that have not previously appeared in English or have appeared only in an egregiously flawed translation.” Most of these projects are currently without publishers, though if the past is any guide, that will likely change after this recognition.

Among this year’s recipients is Geoffrey Michael Goshgarian for The Remnants by Hagop Oshagan (1883-1948), a historical novel widely considered, according to the citation, “one of the greatest masterpieces of Armenian literature,” written in the early 1930s “to save what remained of our people.” You can read an excerpt at Words Without Borders. The introduction to that excerpt describes the book as
a literary reconstruction of the pre-genocide world of the Armenians told through the horrific collapse of a family -- the Nalbandians. The book was to have three parts, but Oshagan was unable to write the third part, which was to be devoted to teh extermination of the Armenians, depicting the twenty-four hours during which the Armenian population of Bursa was annihilated.
The Armenian genocide has been in the news here lately, since Obama -- who said that “America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian genocide” during the presidential campaign -- has been treading carefully through the matter lately. And, of course, Orhan Pamuk’s frank acknowledgment of the Armenian genocide is what got him in trouble with the Turkish government -- trouble that, sadly, has recently revived.

In happier news, via the Literary Saloon, Pamuk’s novel Snow recently became the first of his books to appear in Armenian. And speaking of both Armenian artists and The Rumpus, that fledgling website has a new interview up with Atom Egoyan.

PS. I’ve updated the previous post to include a link to Rawi Hage’s piece in the new issue, which is available online. And as long as I'm updating that post, this letter from an Army National Guard lieutenant colonel makes, I think, for a powerful coda.


King said...

You also might want to look at a different viewpoint of the PEN awards at
though PEN, strangely enough, doesn't seem interested in alternative viewpoints.
Re: Bolano. It's curious that the U.S. literary establishment will give a big push to literary rebels, as long as they're safely from another culture, as well as safely dead!

King said...

Regarding fears: What about the fear of bucking the system you're part of? The fear of speaking out-- of not herding with the pack? Many PEN people are suffering from this fear at present.
(Probably not your blog commentator, Mr. Haglund. I know he's anxious to respond to these posts, and to the charges against PEN made on my own blog. I'm sure he'd love to overwhelm this street person with his Oxford-certified intellect. Something, though, is holding him back. The leash he's on??)

King said...

Two possible reasons for Haglund's silence.
1.) He feels superior to writers who don't have his credentials.
2.) The problem for him is myself. In other words, I've been blackballed, and no one is allowed to communicate with a non-person.
Why would I be blackballed? Because I've been THE leading whistleblower of literary corruption over the past nine years. The Petition to PEN argues that PEN needs to be changed. David Haglund proves the argument. Instead of opposing blackballing, PEN is at the forefront of it.
It's fitting that the only person to respond to my posts on this blog was a scary-looking anonymous individual wearing a mask.

Harland said...

What the heck are Haglund's "credentials"? I mean, hey -- he's a fellow blogger, like you, right? And some kind of writer nobody reads. Like you. You guys should just lie side by side below decks, chattering the night away.

You're right about Bolano, King. They don't like their avant garde American.

But then, as usual, you ride right off the rails.

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