In Translation

The War on Life:
Animalia

‘Despite the fact that we, along with the horse, the wood swallow, the bulbine lily or the most invasive of weeds, cannot be excised from a broader universal network of being, there is still no possible escape from our stories being precisely that, our particular stories, endemic, to us. It is through the inexorably networked mechanisms of a French farm, a pig farm in the Tarn et Garonne of central-southern France, to be more precise, that novelist Jean-Baptiste Del Amo attempts to dramatise these distinctions within the context of ‘animalia’, the over arching super-category of inspirited materiality, and survivalism, that unites all animals.’

Iron

The Day the Sun Died by Yan Lianke

Waking Up: Yan Lianke’s The Day The Sun Died

'Although the year in which the novel is set is not specified, it is tempting to view the work’s thematization of dreams in the context of the popular political slogan, ‘the Chinese Dream,’ which Chinese President Xi Jinping first proposed in late 2012, declaring that ‘everybody has their own ideal, pursuit, and dream. Today everybody is talking about the Chinese Dream. I believe the greatest dream of the Chinese nation in modern history is the great renewal of the Chinese nation.’ In The Day the Sun Died, Yan Lianke focuses on what may be seen as the nightmarish underbelly of this emphasis on progress. In his novel, dreams are not equated with an optimistic faith in future development, but rather symbolize the way the individual and collective past continues to haunt the present.'

Writing in Dark Times: Imre Kertész’s Difficult Legacy

Imre Kertész is Hungary’s sole winner of the Nobel Prize for literature

Lianke-years-months-days-cover crop

Talking to the Dog: The Years, Months, Days by Yan Lianke

'We may approach Yan Lianke’s 1997 novella The Years, Months, Days through another, perhaps rather unexpected, work — Richard Matheson’s iconic 1954 novel, I Am Legend. The protagonist of the latter work, Robert Neville, finds himself in a post-apocalyptic world in which humanity has been ravaged by a virulent bacillus.  Lianke’s novella is set against a similarly apocalyptic landscape. Following a devastating drought, the entire population of a remote Henan village flees, leaving behind only an old man and a stray dog.' 

The 7th Function of Language by Laurent Binet

Semiologists Beware:
The 7th Function of Language

'It would be wrong to regard Binet’s novel as not much more than a sophisticated and hugely entertaining send-up. He sees, certainly, the absurd aspects of semiotics and the other ‘sciences’ his characters profess. But he also registers their allure and fascination. The clue to discovering what that allure and fascination might be has to do with the particular source of his preoccupations. When Theory crossed the English Channel, the Atlantic and then travelled to the Antipodes, it left behind its French playfulness.'