Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Sergio Chercfec, Argentine author

8 May 2012.  Today's guest speaker at the Center for the Art of Translation program was not the translator of a book, but the original author who has been translated, Sergio Chejfec (who mentions that he is Jewish but that he does not distinguish between that and his identity as an Argentine).  To quote from their leaflet, "MY TWO WORLDS, Chejfec's first English-language book, was translated in 2011 by Margaret B. Carson...lauded near and far...with the Bay Area's ZYZZYVA raving, 'MY TWO WORLDS leaps into your hands like a living artifact, a refugee.'  No more than the story of a writer at a conference in Brazil who decides to go for a walk in an urban park, it conjures up images of the Holocaust, Freud's notion of the uncanny, and the artist William Kentridge, while delving deeply into questions of time, narrative, memory, and identity."  On his mind, too, is that he is about to turn 50.
Affected, of course, by The Dirty War (Guerra Sucia), the period of state terrorism in Argentina from 1976 until 1983, his second book in English, THE PLANETS, translated by Heather Cleary, is narrated by a man recalling the disappearance of his friend during that period when victims of the violence included several thousand left-wing activists and militants, including trade unionists, students, journalists, Marxists, Peronist guerrillas, and other alleged sympathizers.   Estimates for the number of people who were killed or "disappeared" range from 9,000 to 30,000.
An audio or video of his presence should appear on the CAT (Center for the Art of Translation) website soon (http://www.catranslation.org/), while his accent and that of a woman who read a translation of some of his writing, along with the ever-present echoing room at CAT presentations, make it difficult to understand -- but for those who know Spanish he reads a very long selection in Spanish.  I took these photos, as usual, without flash and from quite a distance. 

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