Thursday, June 03, 2004


Earlier this year I interviewed Edith Grossman who is the translator of Gabriel Garica Marquez and the most recent translation of Don Quixote by Cervantes.

This profile on Edith Grossman has recently been published.

Preparing for the interview I pulled out my Garica Marquez books to see which ones Grossman had translated. In one of the books, Collected Novellas, which is three short novels by Marquez, I was surprised and alarmed to discover that there was no translator acknowledgement anywhere.

Grossman said she did not translate those novellas, that it was Gregory Rabasa. She said however, "It’s one of the things I insist on in the contracts that I get. My name on the cover."

As we spoke I mentioned one of the novellas in the book "No One Writes the Colonel," which I always loved. I said it had one the best last lines of any story I ever read, but as we spoke I couldn't exactly recall the line. Grossman seemlessly filled-in-the blank saying, "At the end of that novella he’s waiting and waiting and waiting for his pension and it never comes and his wife says: ‘How we going to live? What are we going to eat?’ And he says, ‘Shit.’ And that’s the end; that’s the end. It’s incredible, it’s incredible, what a brilliant book."

For space reasons the above conversation didn't make it into the profile. Another outtake was my question about writers Grossman thinks should be better known in English. The two writers she mentioned were Álvaro Mutis and Mayra Montero.

Grossman said, "Álvaro Mutis, who has won almost every prize Europe has to give and has won the Newstat prize at the University of Oklahoma. He writes like no one else, no one else writes like him. He’s done seven novellas, I’ve translated them and I think he should be as certainly as well known as Garcia Marquez."

She continued, "And Mayra Montero -- she’s younger than the writers of "the Boom," they are all in the late 60’s and 70’s, and she’s 50ish. She is really the important younger writer in Latin America. And I’d love to see her get more press. She’s a terrific writer."

--Tom Devaney

(My own translation recommendation in this area is Jen Hofer's bilingual anthology of emerging women poets from Mexico: Sin puertas visibles (No Visible Doors).)

((Thanks hassen for the birthday wishes!))

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