Conversations Between Friends: Nancy Au and Olga Zilberbourg

At the beginning of October, 2019, Nancy Au and Olga Zilberbourg celebrated the publication of their books Spider Love Song and Other Stories and Like Water and Other Stories. The E.M. Wolfman General Interest Small Bookstore of Oakland, CA, generously hosted their conversation. Nancy grew up in San Francisco and writes about three generations of Chinese-American families. Olga grew up in the Soviet Union and Russia and immigrated to the United States, where she landed in San Francisco. Each of their story collections center on immigrant relationships and complex family dynamics. Following up on their in-person conversation, the authors unpacked their lived experiences and approaches to craft in the email exchange documented here.

Read this conversation in CRAFT magazine.

Webinar on Flash Fiction

Coming up tomorrow, April 7th at 3 pm Pacific and 6 pm Eastern, on Zoom. As a part of Rochester Institute of Technology’s Alumni Actor, Artist & Author Series, I’ll be doing a talk on Everyone’s a Writer: Reading and Writing Flash Fiction. The talk is aimed at a general audience, and will be of particular interest to people who have always dreamed of writing but have been intimidated by it or simply have never made time for it. I came to writing after a stint in market research, and I will make the case for Flash as the perfect genre for beginning writers with a lot of experience of the world, that it allows us to share our tales with a wide audience. (And for people who don’t even know what Flash is, I promise to lay out a definition.)  Please, preregister for this Zoom webinar!

Review: Three Apples Fell From the Sky

Thanks to The Common, a magazine dedicated to literature of place, and editor Nina Sudhakar for working with me and publishing my review of Narine Abgaryan’s novel in Lisa C. Hayden’s translation. I highly recommend this book, and if anyone interested, I know of a Twitter read-together group that’s planning to dig into this novel in March 2021.

A brave writer begins her novel with the deathbed. Instead of hooking a reader the way the proverbial gun on the wall might, opening with a death scene threatens her with the inevitable backstory.

Luckily, Narine Abgaryan is both a brave and an experienced writer. Three Apples Fell from the Sky is her fifth full-length novel, which won Russia’s prestigious Yasnaya Polyana Literary Award in 2016. Maine-based Lisa C. Hayden translated this novel for Oneworld, and after a COVID19-based delay, the book was released in the UK in August 2020. The novel opens with Anatolia Sevoyants, the protagonist, as she lies down “to breathe her last.” Soon, though, we learn that while Anatolia fully intends to die, life is far from finished with her.

https://www.thecommononline.org/three-apples-fell-from-the-sky/

I Give Up in Mumber Mag

My flash “I Give Up” is now available in the second issue of Mumber Mag! I’m grateful to the editor Harry Leeds for his thoughtful comments on this piece, helping to make it less wordy and amplifying the sense of movement and breathlessness with which its overwhelmed speaker addresses the world.

The next crayon hit him right between the eyes. The next two hit the windshield and the car swerved, coming dangerously close to a refrigerator truck. My husband screamed.

In response, the two-year old started screaming.

https://www.mumbermag.me/2020/12/28/i-give-up/

The Mumber Two (OMG that title) is a delightful issue all around, worth reading cover-to-cover!

No Horse Required published in CALYX

So proud to have a story in the current issue of CALYX. I wrote the first draft of “No Horse Required” in August 2008, that’s 12 years ago! Two years ago, the editors of this magazine requested edits, and one year ago, they accepted it for publication. A version of this story appeared in my 2010 Russian-language collection. For context, the story opens in 1992, and altogether it’s been quite a journey!

When I was thirteen years old, I yearned for a passionate and committed friendship modeled after the books I was reading. Never mind that I was a girl and that, in these books, friendship was reserved for a particular relationship between boys and men. These books were standard fodder for earnest Soviet children, complemented by selections from the international library: The Three Musketeers, Ivanhoe, The Pathfinder. I searched for blood friends, for true soul mates among my classmates, but the boys preferred computer games and the girls wanted to watch American movies.

https://www.calyxpress.org/shop/vol-321/

The issues are available on sale through the mag’s website. I have a few copies, DM me if you want one.

Video from my reading for BunkerLit

Back in May, I read from my book and answered some questions for a new, Zoom-based reading series called BunkerLit. It was a fun event and the organizers posted the video right away, but things were hectic then (let’s face it, they are still hectic six months later), and I forgot to share this link here. Check it out. I’m hugely grateful to Brendan Isaac Jones and Amy Butcher for inviting me and for everyone who attended!

What’s gained in translation

I really enjoyed talking to Eric Molinsky of Imaginary Worlds podcast about The Magician of Emerald City, the Soviet version of the Wizard of Oz. This podcast episode is about what’s gained in translation, and Eric found me through the essay I wrote last year for Lit Hub.

Translation so often as seen as a reductive process, a process of loss, and that’s really unfortunate. In this episode, Eric makes a good case–and the one that personally I find to have much better backing–that translation is a process of addition, that it really is a huge boon to the readers and writers out there. Please enjoy this episode and subscribe to the series. Eric does such an excellent job.

Feminist and Queer Russophone Poetry

This year, English-speaking readers will be introduced to three books in translation from Russian, each of which is groundbreaking on its own terms; taken together, these books showcase the aesthetic potential of feminism in contemporary Russian-language poetry. The feminist and queer voices in these books are amplified by the group of poet-translators, whose own politics […]

Feminist and Queer Russophone Poetry

Book Release Event: LOOK AT HIM by Anna Starobinets, trans. Katherine E. Young

This event with Anna Starobinets, Katherine E. Young, Muireann Macguire and Yelena Furman is coming up on Saturday. Registration link below!

Punctured Lines

We atPunctured Lines are delighted to host our first public event via Zoom. We recently ran Svetlana Satchkova’s interview with Anna Starobinets about her memoir, and welcome an opportunity to continue this conversation. On September 26, we’ll be moderating a book release celebration for LOOK AT HIM by Anna Starobinets in Katherine E. Young’s translation. This event will begin at 3 pm EST.

About the Event:

In 2012, Russia-based writer and journalist Anna Starobinets was told in her sixteenth week of pregnancy that the baby she was carrying had developed a kidney defect incompatible with life. Following a dehumanizing experience in Moscow clinics, Starobinets traveled to Berlin, Germany, to undergo an abortion. In Berlin, Starobinets also discovered a level of medical support, including emotional support and counseling, that was practically unheard of in Russia at the time.

Starobinets wrote LOOK AT HIM on the heels of those events. Its…

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Belarus

The Russian Reader

— Паслухай, стары,
нам учора абвешчана воля,
і сёння ад рання
народам запоўнены пляцы,
наперадзе – радасць,
якая нас век не пакіне,
і я назаўсёды з табой
развітацца хачу…
— Паслухай, мой хлопча,
учора зіма пачалася,
і белыя вопраткі
чорныя дрэвы надзелі,
і шэранем ранішнім
ледзь прыцярушаны прорвы,
і холад хавае
ўсялякі ці прыпах, ці пах –
і так будзе доўжыцца
аж да вясновае ўлады –
тады на дарогах
адкрыюцца раны старыя,
як сонца сарве перавязкі…
Крывёю і брудам
вам станецца радасць
і доўга чаканая воля.
А тут, пад зямлёй,
пад заброснелай нізкаю столлю,
на змрочнай сцяне,
будуць мілыя блікі блукаць
маленькай, як жменька,
і вечнай – і вечнай! – надзеі…
… У кніжцы без вокладкі
і без апошніх старонак,
дзе вы, адмыслоўцы шалёнага часу,
жылі,
я сёння заместа закладкі
лісток пакладу
ад пекнай герані,
падобнай на кроў і агонь.

Тацяна Сапач (1962-2010)

vadim f lurie-minsk 2019Vadim F. Lurie, Minsk, 2019…

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