* I’m outraged, but I’ve learned a way of reasoning that quickly defuses my exasperation. This morning, a sudden rage when I see that Noam Cohen of the New York Times is re-inventing the wheel with the news that Borges, in his stories set in a pre-technological past, predicted the arrival of the internet. I would not have been annoyed by such a fossilised ‘discovery’ on the part of the New York Times if it weren’t for the fact that the author of the piece, with ridiculous self-importance, dismisses Borges as an ‘Old-World librarian’ and ‘a fusty sort’, when in actual fact the man who is out of date is Cohen himself, more behind with the latest news than the cyclist Godot when he arrived behind time at each stage of the Tour.
Writing – Roberto Bolaño said – is a rational, visionary activity, an exercise in intelligence and adventure. From among the multiple adventures, readers of the visionary Borges will never forget the spiral staircase, which plunges down and soars up off into the remote distance in his memorable tale ‘The Library of Babel’. When this story was first published in 1941, few could have imagined that this staircase would end up turning Borges into a demiurge, a strange visionary who described the Internet before it existed.
We have known for years now that Borges, in an exercise of intelligence and intellectual adventure, anticipated the World Wide Web in ‘The Library of Babel’, and also in ‘Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius’, another of his stories from that period: ‘Who, singular or plural, invented Tlön? The plural is, I suppose, inevitable, since the hypothesis of a single inventor — some infinite Leibniz working in obscurity and self-effacement — has been unanimously discarded. It is conjectured that this ‘brave new world’ is the work of a secret society of astronomers, biologists, engineers, metaphysicians, poets, chemists, algebrists, moralists, painters, geometers, … guided and directed by some shadowy man of genius.’
In his story, Borges tells us that in this secret society there is a great number of individuals skilled in the most varied disciplines, but not one capable of invention, and still less of subordinating invention to a rigorous, systematic plan. The plan is so vast that each writer’s contribution is infinitesimal. This secret society, this ‘brave new world’, is the World Wide Web. Now it is revealed to us by Cohen, following the re-issuing of Labyrinths by New Directions, and the publication of a work by Perla Sassón-Henry that explores the connection between the de-centralised Internet of YouTube, blogs and Wikipedia, and Borges’ stories, which ‘make the reader an active participant’.
For a moment I am outraged at Cohen’s antiquated news, but then I forgive him, telling myself that things in the modern world happen so fast it can seem as if not being up to date is a problem, but it’s also true that there are things that do not sit easily with such speed. Consider how slow reading is, for instance. Ricardo Piglia says that these days, when the circulation of the written word has reached such extraordinary velocity, it becomes paradoxical to observe that the speed of reading has not changed: ‘We read the same now as in Aristotle’s time. We continue to decipher sign after sign, and this gives us a similar stance to that around when circulation wasn’t so fast. William Henry Hudson, for example, in his 1918 memoir Far Away and Long Ago about his life in the Argentinian pampas, tells of how novels would reach him and how after reading them he would lend them to the neighbouring ranch some three miles away, and then to another even deeper into the pampas. The novel would grow gradually more and more distant, on horseback…’
* That which can be thought must surely be a fiction. Now, for instance, I think that Roberto Bolaño took part in Magellan’s expedition to Patagonia, yet if I look up this fact on the Internet I will not find it anywhere. In order to find it, I write these lines that will find their way onto the web and say it for me. They will say that in Between Parentheses, not only did Bolaño call Magellan’s sailors ‘brave’ (this can be verified by referring to the book), but that he also took part in that adventure which was – as if it were a piece of writing – a visionary activity… And well, now, as if I too were a novel, I ride my horse slowly away from Patagonia, and everything I am thinking about (surely a virtual fiction) draws me closer to the offices of New Directions, where I spent a few hours in May last year. This publishing house is the one that has brought out a second edition (the first came out 40 years ago) of Labyrinths, a collection of short stories by Jorge Luis Borges, which includes the stories we know in Spanish as Ficciones: stories full of memorious men, infinite encyclopaedias and spiral staircases, which in New York has in the last few years become canon for all those who find themselves at the intersection between new technology and literature. And it’s curious: a similar juncture can be seen in a corner of New Directions, the historic house that also publishes the stories of Bolaño, Cortázar and Felisberto Hernández, and whose corridors and offices make up in their own manner an intricate labyrinth that ends up feeling homely. In May of last year I got ever so slightly lost there, and on some bookshelves near the terrace that leads to a magnificent view of the skyline I saw, side by side, the books of Bolaño next to those of Borges, New York neighbours in the web of time, a chance secret society in the eternal library.
* The friend who has returned after a year of absence. He calls the house to say hello and almost without hiding the fact that he’s doing so purely out of duty. He is more calculating than ever before. And I, for whatever reason, do not figure in his field of interest. I think I can sense he has no love for me at all. What can have happened? It’s not a word spoken somewhere which has arrived transformed in the ears of someone who has repeated it to another, and so on. No, it’s nothing like that. It’s simply that he has a certain amount of affection for me but I do not interest him, and it’s entirely possible I never have. Perhaps he feels better with people who admire him, or just better with other people, full stop. It’s alright, I say to myself. I don’t see any reason why friendships should have to last longer than passions.
* ‘The world is going to become tremendously stupid. Over the next few years, everything is going to start seeming very dull. We are lucky to live now and not later.’ (Flaubert, 27 June, 1850.)
* Some people think that for years I’ve been keeping a private journal of literary quotes, the commonplace book so many Anglo-Saxon writers were fond of. Perhaps this might explain the somewhat absurd fact that, in the short space of a month, three friends have sent me – each one at his own expense and risk – three books that seem related to this idea that I collect quotes.
The first of the three to arrive was the Spanish translation of Sur Plusiers Beaux Sujets, Wallace Stevens’ private journal, a sort of draft or working notebook into which the poet and lawyer from New York transferred passages from other people’s works relating to his own interests, and thus 22 of the quotes he gathered there found their way into his poems. It is a workbook along the lines of the Hofmannsthal of The Book of Friends or the W. H. Auden of A Certain World, an anthology of quotes and at the same time, an idiosyncratic autobiography.
‘Aesthetic is a higher justice,’ we read in one of Wallace Stevens’ notes. It is a magnificent phrase of Flaubert’s in a letter to Louise Collet. And for me, the phrase of the book. I remember it whenever I switch on the TV and enter into the frenzied ‘uglyism’ of its most recent images. Flaubert did not leave any aphorisms in his novels, but he did leave some in his correspondence, where he always expressed himself beyond measure and with boundless intelligence.
‘Aesthetics is a higher justice.’ A fine phrase. And what to say of ethics? And of the relation, perhaps impossible, between ethics and language? If I did keep a commonplace book, I would insert right now some words of Wittgenstein from his ‘Lecture on Ethics’, from 1929: ‘If a man could write a book on Ethics which really was a book on Ethics, this book would, with an explosion, destroy all the other books in the world.’
I have said ‘if I did keep a commonplace book.’ But this is not the case. If I kept one – and I think the force of destiny is nudging me towards doing so – I would now add in my notebook another of Flaubert’s phrases, also rescued from his letters; a phrase I found in the second of the books given to me: De jardines ajenos [from other people’s gardens], by Adolofo Bioy Casares. In this book of quotes collected by Bioy I have again come across some wonderful examples of Flaubert’s paroles – not to be confused with Flaubert’s Parrot, by Julian Barnes – in the form of these memorable lines on singularity: ‘The infinite stupidity of the masses makes me indulgent of individualities, no matter how odious they might happen to be.’
* The third book, the Spanish collection of Flaubert’s aphorisms Razones y osadías [reasons and audacities], is a direct selection of Flaubert’s forceful opinions, all rescued from his eloquent letters. The edition – inevitably – is by Jordi Llovet. By the way, I haven’t mentioned this till now: whenever I go somewhere serious, I always say, ‘I have come on behalf of Señor Llovet.’ Only once did I detect a feeling so hostile in the atmosphere that, before I had settled myself into my seat, I stood up again and, turning my back, announced ‘I am leaving on behalf of Señor Llovet.’
In Razones y osadías we confirm that Flaubert, who wished to remain hidden in the different scenes of his narrative oeuvre, had by necessity to reveal his private world somewhere else. He did so in his correspondence, written without any intention that it would one day be considered equal to his fictional works, but which has great documentary value, because there appears in his letters a Flaubert who abhors universal stupidity and is left flabbergasted at the imbecility of politicians, a Flaubert who speaks of books and of colleagues and of life in general and is relatively misogynistic. The phrases extracted from his letters demonstrate, among other things, how he senses the boredom and rubbish, the absurdity and part of the brutality of the years that were yet to come. A century and a half later, none of his forceful opinions has ceased seeming topical; rather the opposite.
Like litanies of an audacious rosary, the phrases drop one by one: ‘How great Balzac would be if he had known how to write’; ‘I never shave my beard without laughing at how stupid it seems to me;’ ‘Oh! Men of action! Active men! You should see how they grow tired and tire out the rest of us for not doing a thing. And what a foolish vanity! […] Thought is eternal, like the soul, and action is mortal, like the body.’ There we find Flaubert’s purest gold, in the form of lessons in common sense and the ample knowledge that, more than anything, there is an evil that afflicts us: stupidity.
Nowadays, the spectre of stupidity haunts our classrooms. But it would do well to remind those who are horrified that our young people are the most behind in terms of education that they, the adults, are not only responsible for this catastrophe, but are also just as boring, uneducated and ignorant as these youngsters. Flaubert saw all this apogee of banality when he said there was much talk of the stupefaction of the common people, but that it was expressed in unjust and incomplete terms, as one should really begin by educating the educated classes. They were already starting to get along just fine without ethics or aesthetics, just as they do today, so triumphantly. Flaubert saw it with absolute clarity: ‘There will come a time when everyone will have turned into a “businessman” (by then, thank God, I will already be dead). Our nephews will have a worse time of it. Future generations will be dreadfully vulgar.’
I remember I discovered the writing of Bernard Malamud when reading ‘The Lost Grave’, the short story five pages long that closes Sudden Fiction, the anthology of North American minimal stories. There was nothing but Malamud in the house and I read this short story and thought it so brilliant that since then I haven’t stopped reading this writer. ‘The Lost Grave’ tells the story of old man Hecht, who is woken one night by the sound of the rain and thinks of his young wife in her damp grave. The next morning, he goes to look for the grave, but can’t find it. He confesses to the cemetery caretaker that he never really got on with his wife and that many years ago she had gone to live with another man when death crept up on her. A few days later, the caretaker calls Hecht to tell him he’s found the grave, but that his wife is not in it. Her lover managed to get a court order years back to move her to another grave, where they buried him too when he died. And so his wife lies together with another man, betraying him for all eternity. But Hecht’s property, nonetheless, is still there. ‘Don’t forget you’ve got a grave for future use out of all this,’ the caretaker says. ‘It’s empty and the plot belongs to you.’
I would not have read this minimal story if it hadn’t been for the excellent portrait Philip Roth paints of Malamud in Shop Talk: A Writer And His Colleagues and Their Work. The portrait opens with the young Roth travelling to Oregon in 1961 to interview the acclaimed Malamud. At first sight, and for someone who, like Roth, had grown up among insurance brokers, this writer had all the signs of belonging to this profession: ‘He could have passed for one of my father’s colleagues at the district office of Metropolitan Life.’ The life-altering journey to Oregon is loaded with evident connections to The Ghost Writer, Roth’s novel in which Nathan Zuckerman, a young writer just setting out, makes his way in the winter of 1956 to the rural retreat of an author he considers his mentor, E. L. Lonoff, a carbon copy of Malamud himself and a character who has recently reappeared in Exit Ghost, in which Zuckerman is now 71 years old and has also begun to think of damp graves. After a decade of isolation, Zuckerman has returned to New York and there, among other things, has discovered that Lonoff has been forgotten, which remains a truism, for Malamud is an author who, twenty years after his death, seems to have fallen somewhat into oblivion.
Around this time, the beginning of 1961, Malamud had already published, among other novels, The Assistant, the memorable story of Frank Alpine, a petty criminal who works in a Jewish store in Brooklyn and who at the end of the book, ‘because of something in himself – something [he] couldn’t define, a memory perhaps, an ideal he might have forgotten and then remembered,’ we see transformed into a better person. The truth is that I’m just as drawn to the Malamud who prowls stubbornly around the capacity of improving the human as to the one who creates all sorts of grey beings, creatures with the air of insurance brokers and, because of this something inside themselves, attempt to explore things more deeply and, as in the case of the sorrowful, sombre Russian in The Fixer – one of his best books – become great and obstinate men, always struggling to go further in everything they do.
There is in Malamud a combination of an anxious temperament, a very particular sense of humour and the instinct of an honest, earnest man, always committed to his own demand for high quality; tenacious, in short, in going further in everything, as well as in his literature.
There are a few beautiful words of Bukowski’s that are well-suited to this persistent tenacity, words I sometimes think are Bolaño’s and which recall the supreme gift hidden in every authentic literary vocation: ‘If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.’
Twenty-four years after the young Roth had gone to Oregon to interview Malamud, the final encounter between the two writers took place; Roth had by then become the giant of American letters and Malamud had sunk into a certain decadence after having ridden life straight to perfect laughter. It was in the summer of 1985, in the Malamuds’ Vermont residence. Roth says that over the years the two men had talked a great deal about books and writing, but had very rarely mentioned the other’s fiction, thus respecting an unwritten rule of propriety we writers know very well and generally stick to: it’s not worth getting into a jam by commenting on another writer’s book, a book by your friend or fellow writer; the more you avoid it, the fewer conflicts you will endure, as there coexist dangerously in the other – and in yourself, why deny it – a huge pride along with a barely contained sensitivity, always ready to come together in an explosive mixture. That day in 1985 in Oregon, an aged Malamud, whose hands trembled and who was showing all the signs of literary and vital decline, persisted – and never has it been better said of someone who spent his life persisting – in reading to the Roths the opening section of the novel he was working on.
This opening, Roth tells us, was entirely lacking in any interest, it was nothing. And hearing what his friend read was ‘like being led into a dark hole to see by torchlight the first Malamud story scratched upon a cave wall.’ Roth would have liked to say something stimulating about the text, but felt he could not be insincere and asked him what came next.
‘What’s next isn’t the point,’ Malamud replied grumpily.
And yet he retained the dignity of a vocational writer who, in full decline, is deep down still waiting to improve, still wanting to think that, despite the obstacles, he can still take a step forwards in the work he has given his life to. ‘If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start…’ We now know that, even at the end of his days, in nights that flamed with fires, Malamud was among those who stubbornly looked for something else. But it’s also true that the old master, in his stubborn shadowy trade, was already headed for the grave he had seen silhouetted suddenly on his horizon. Indeed, when, months after that final visit, Roth sent him a note proposing he come to Connecticut the following summer so they could see each other again, the reply he received from Malamud was laconic, hard as coffin wood. He would love to go, he tells Roth, but he also wishes to remind him that ‘next summer is next summer.’ 18 March, 1986 was the last of his long trajectory of obstinate days. He died three nights before spring came, and only a year after having published in Esquire that story about a lost grave, but also about the advantages of that final, perfect laughter.
* The book Kafka Goes To The Movies, by Hanns Zischler, ends up creating an unexpected urgency. After reading it, one must go to Verona, not to look at Romeo and Juliet’s happy balcony, but to visit the church of Santa Anastasia, and the sculpture of a dwarf holding a bowl of holy water that made such an impression on Kafka. The book is an elegant investigation of Kafka’s relationship with the cinema. This material by Zischler (a surprising German writer who is also a publisher, film critic, philosopher, theatre director and a well-known actor in the films of Godard, Wenders and Spielberg) is full of multiple corners that recall the geography of long ago and the time when one could lose oneself down side streets and open mysterious doors that led to hidden passageways in the labyrinthine city of the Golem, the much-abused Prague.
Each passage in Zischler’s book subtly weaves together cinematic factors with Kafkaesque touches. I remember the dedication to Prague’s ‘explainers’ (versteller in Yiddish), those men who in the cinemas of that city acted as expert narrators or reciters, and not only arbitrarily added text to the film but became extra actors in the spectacle being watched on the screen. These narrators soon entered Kafka’s orbit, just as years later the joyous dwarf of Verona would too. Yesterday I spoke of this marble character, ‘with an expression of happiness on his face,’ to Emilio Manzano, Marina Espasa and Enric Juste. Afterwards, the four of us were left with the sensation that, sooner or later, we would have to return to Verona, because on our previous visits we missed the best of the city: the life-sized dwarf with which Kafka identified.
The writer turned up in this city feeling melancholy, paralysed by his inability to make a decision about his relationship with Felice Bauer. ‘I’m in the church of Santa Anastasia in Verona, tired, sitting on a pew in front of a life-sized marble dwarf who, with a happy look on his face, is carrying a bowl of holy water,’ Kafka writers on a postcard to Bauer herself.
It’s a charming fragment in which Hanns Zischler related the marble dwarf to Kafka’s relationship to the cinema and tells us that the writer was drawn to the intensity transmitted to the spectator by the photographed ‘sculptures’ and, at the same time, was frightened by the rapid images on a screen, impossible to stop and which placed an overwhelming demand on his visual and literary capacities. It seems it was ever thus. Kafka liked solid, compact sculptures that allow one to focus on them, and was not so keen on cinematographic sequences, which pass by swiftly and cannot be fixed and do not allow one to think them.
* Kafka enjoyed everything ultramodern and as such he enjoyed the cinema, as almost everyone does, but in actual fact his fascination with this new invention, silent movies, came straight from Yiddish theatre, which he had seen so much of in the squalid Café Savoy and other venues in Prague and which was always an important influence on his poetics. He placed great importance on the body language found in this form of Jewish theatre – the great secret of Charlot’s success derives from this tradition – and believed it was necessary for his literature to find an expressive equivalent. He was clear that in this Yiddish theatre body language was much more important than dialogue: presence was essential, and what was interesting about the artless art of this theatre was the form of interpreting it. It was this aspect that, as Reiner Stach explains in Kafka: The Decisive Years – was the one that seduced the writer, who was seeking to achieve in his literature a way of communicating with the public: ‘Some of the gestures and characters that turn out to particularly Kafkaesque come from the Yiddish scene and the back room of the Savoy.’
And so a melancholy Kafka in Verona enters the Church of Santa Anastasia and comes across a dwarf: a sculpture that, as far as I have been able to verify, is attributed to Alessandrino Rossi, called il gobbino, and now all I’ve got to find out is who this Rossi character was. This dwarf was the actual size of Kafka the bachelor’s worries. And it’s curious to note how years later, as he calls to mind this very same dwarf, his size has gone from ‘life-sized’ to ‘larger than life’, while the expression of happiness on his face has disappeared beneath the weight of memory: ‘In a church in Verona which, all alone, I begrudgingly entered, urged on by the obligations of a tourist and severely urged on by the sense of uselessness of a person in decline, I recall that I saw a larger-than-life dwarf bent beneath a bowl of holy water.’ As is clear here, the Kafka the bachelor’s leaden memory had grown heavier over the years, and was now becoming receptive to passages yet to be discovered: unusual passages, larger than life ones, crouched behind the now forever troubled gaze of the ecstatic dwarf.
* I look for some pages by Doctorow on W. G. Sebald and can’t find them anywhere. Here he speaks of the surprising ‘effect of truth’ and the negation of or slight decline in authorship – in the tradition of the manuscript of Don Quixote discovered in Toledo – that Sebald achieved in his very real fictions.
I can’t find the pages by Doctorow, but I decide to look in Vertigo, one of Sebald’s first books, for fragments of prose that might corroborate the theory – unfound – of Doctorow about this author. I have always admired Sebald for his courage in displaying in his disjointed prose an absolute lack of joy, light and vividness. To a dead man, he seems forever to be telling me, the whole world is a funeral. Now, thanks to the pages I haven’t found of Doctorow’s, I also admire him for his skill at updating his technique for the ambiguous ‘effect of truth’.
As I read more of Vertigo, I see that I had forgotten about two stories in the book (‘All’estero’ and ‘Doctor K. Takes the Waters at Riva’) whose settings and literary references are the places Kafka made pilgrimages to in Italy, in September 1913. As such, the most likely thing is that Sebald is talking about Verona, this city which, after reading the book Kafka Goes to the Movies, I proposed last week to visit once again, just to go to the font in the Church of Santa Anastasia and see the life-sized marble dwarf, before which, one fine day in 1913, a broken Franz Kafka sat down.
I am distracted from my initial intentions as I read more of Vertigo, and start to wonder if on his trip to Italy Sebald remembered the marble dwarf that fell under Kafka’s unforgiving gaze. It takes me no time at all to find the word Verona in the text ‘All’estero’, and immediately afterwards the Church of Santa Anastasia. Sebald says that he went into this church planning to look at a fresco of Saint George that Pisanello had painted at the entrance to the chapel of the Pellegrini, in around 1435. But at no point does he mention the dwarf. I say to myself that Pisanello’s great frescos, peopled with many small figures characterised by a precision of line, look like Sebald’s textual tapestries, so peopled with characters sought and found in meticulously described surroundings.
The Church of Santa Anastasia seems very dark to Sebald and he says that ‘even on the brightest of afternoons, the profoundest gloom prevails.’ He soon leaves, without any sign of having been interested in the dwarf. Three days later, he goes into a grotty pizzeria on the Via Roma which ‘even from the outside made a disreputable impression,’ and there discovers that he is the only customer for the only waiter and, seeing a seascape hanging in a picture frame painted golden bronze and depicting a great disaster, his brow runs cold with a sudden fear. Leaving his half-finished plate of food he goes out into the street and, that very night, overcome by immeasurable panic, abandons the city in a train headed for Innsbruck.
* I don’t lose heart in my search for the dwarf and continue to read Vertigo, and in the story ‘Doctor K. Takes the Waters at Riva’ I discover that, seven years later, Sebald returned to Italy, he went back to Verona. In his first walk around the city, he took shelter in a doorway with a metal plaque announcing the consulting rooms of a dentist, ‘dottore Pesavento, whose practice was in La Via Stella, not far from the Biblioteca Civica, where he carried out his painless extractions.’ I freeze as I see that Verona is mysteriously leading me to reencounter the dottore, the old dentist of the painless extractions, and with myself. Am I in this book too? What about the dwarf? Why does Sebald say nothing of him?
In Verona, Sebald returns to La Via Roma and looks for the pizzeria, where seven years earlier he was beset by a glacial panic. The pizzeria has been closed for some time, perhaps since the day he himself fled there in terror. He takes a photograph of the door to the defunct restaurant and then turns his steps once more to Santa Anastasia, to engage again with Pisanello’s fresco. As he heads for the church, he remembers that Kafka, on the September afternoon in 1913 when he arrived in Verona, walked through the side streets until he was worn out, and decided to go into Santa Anastasia to rest and, after reposing in that cool space, in the darkness, ‘began walking once again and even as he was leaving, ran his fingers, as one might do to a son or a younger brother, over the marble curls of the dwarf who for hundreds of years had stood bearing the heavy weight of a bowl of holy water at the foot of one of the imposing columns…’
I couldn’t even imagine, the previous week, reading Kafka Goes To The Movies, that it wouldn’t me take long to find the dwarf in another book. But finally, even if only in fleeting fashion, the dwarf is named there – seen like a son or a younger brother – in Sebald’s story. A cool end-of-December breeze blows in through the half-open window and for a moment I imagine that the air is white and I find myself in the centre of a sea of mist, in Santa Anastasia. The dwarf, tired of not being left in peace recently, puts up a timid protest. But there is no indication, I hear Sebald say, that Doctor K. might have gazed at Pisanello’s fresco. It could be said that Sebald ignores the dwarf just as Kafka ignored Pisanello.
This piece was selected for inclusion in the January 2015 Translation Issue by Daniel Medin, a contributing editor of The White Review. He helps direct the Center for Writers and Translators at the American University of Paris, and is an editor of The Cahiers Series and Music & Literature.
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR
Rosalind Harvey’s translation of Juan Pablo Villalobos's debut novel Down the Rabbit Hole was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Oxford-Weidenfeld prize. Her co-translation of Enrique Vila-Matas's Dublinesque was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction prize and has been longlisted for the Dublin IMPAC award. Her latest translation is Villalobos’s Quesadillas, with And Other Stories and FSG.