Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction are some of my Literary Interests





Tuesday, August 22, 2017

"Spiderweb" - A Short Story by Mariana (from The New Yorker, 2016, translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell)



The New Yorker, December 29, 2016


Information on Women in Translation Month - August, 2017


Short stories I have read so far for Women In Translation Month - August, 2017

  1. "Happy New Year" by Ajaat Cour - Translated from Punjabi
  2. "The Floating Forest" by Natsuo Kirino- Translated from Japanese
  3. " A Home Near the Sea" by Kamala Das - Translated from Malayalam
  4. "Maria" by Dacia Maraini- Translated from Italian
  5. "Zletka" by Maja Hrgovic - Translated from Croatian
  6. "Arshingar" by Jharna Raham - Translated from Bengali
  7. "Tsipke" by Salomea Perl - Translated from Yiddish
  8. "Mother" by Urmilaw Pawar - Translated from Marathi
  9. "My Creator, My Creation" by Tiina Raevaara - Translated from Finnish
  10. "Cast Offs" by Wajida Tabassum - Translated from Urdu
  11. It's All Up to You" by Slywia Chutnik - Translated from Polish
  12. "Covert Joy" by Clarice Lispector- Translated from Portuguese 
  13. "The Daughter, The Wife, and the Mother" by Arupa Kilita - Translated from Assam
  14. "Red Glow of the New Moon" by Kundanika Kapadia - translated from Gujarati
  15. "Breaking Point" by Usha Mahajan- translated from Hindu
  16. "The Gentleman Thief" by Goli Taraghi - translated from Persian
  17. "Spider Web" by Mariana Enriguez- translated from Spanish

Mariana Enriquez, from Buenos Aires, is a leading Argentinian short story writer.  Today's story "Spiderweb" was published, in translation in the December 19, 2016 of The New Yorker (for now you can read it for free on their website, link above).  Publication in The New Yorker has sustained and started many literary careers.

The narrator of "Spiderweb" is a young recently married woman, living in Buenos Aires.  Her aunt and uncle have never met her husband and they have asked her to bring her husband to their house, up near the northern border close to Paraguay and Brazil, a very rugged place for a young woman from a very sophisticated city like Buenos Aires.

Enriquez does a wonderful job of setting the stage in these opening line:

"In February I went to visit my aunt and uncle in Corrientes, because I was tired of their reproaches: “You got married and we haven’t even met your husband! How is that possible? You’re hiding him from us.”
“No,” I’d say, laughing, over the phone. “How could I be hiding him? I’d love for you to meet him—we’ll come soon.”
But they were right: I was hiding him.
My aunt and my uncle were the custodians of the memory of my mother, their favorite sister, who was killed in a stupid accident when I was seventeen. During the first months of mourning, they offered to have me come live with them in the north; I said no. They came to visit me often. They gave me money, called me every day. My cousins stayed to keep me company on weekends. But I still felt abandoned, and because of that solitude I fell in love too quickly, I got married impetuously, and now I was living with Juan Martín, who irritated and bored me."

Her husband boasts to her relatives about his business success and denigrates the province in which they live as underdeveloped.  In a private conversation she tells her aunt that her husband repulses her.  She hates having sex with him.  Her cousin Natalie joins them, she is single but has a wealthy boyfriend.  Her husband doesn't like Natalie. The narrator thinks she is very beautiful.  Natalie proposes a three hundred kilometer road trip to a market town in Paraguay where she buys exquisite lace for resale back home.  The road trip is very exciting, it has a Wild West kind of feel, Paraguay feels edgy and dangerous.  Seeing the interaction of the two cousins was wonderful, great dialogue.


There are exciting developments on the Way Home that I will leave untold.   Enriquez made me feel I was along for the ride.

I greatly enjoyed this story and hope to read more stories by Mariana Enriquez.

Mariana Enriquez is a writer and editor based in Buenos Aires, where she contributes to a number of newspapers and literary journals, both fiction and nonfiction- from the website of Penguin Random House Books.

Mel u 






Monday, August 21, 2017

"The Gentleman Thief" - A Short Story by Goli Taraghi (translated from Persian, 2013)

Information on Women in Translation Month - August, 2017



Short stories I have read so far for Women In Translation Month - August, 2017

  1. "Happy New Year" by Ajaat Cour - Translated from Punjabi
  2. "The Floating Forest" by Natsuo Kirino- Translated from Japanese
  3. " A Home Near the Sea" by Kamala Das - Translated from Malayalam
  4. "Maria" by Dacia Maraini- Translated from Italian
  5. "Zletka" by Maja Hrgovic - Translated from Croatian
  6. "Arshingar" by Jharna Raham - Translated from Bengali
  7. "Tsipke" by Salomea Perl - Translated from Yiddish
  8. "Mother" by Urmilaw Pawar - Translated from Marathi
  9. "My Creator, My Creation" by Tiina Raevaara - Translated from Finnish
  10. "Cast Offs" by Wajida Tabassum - Translated from Urdu
  11. It's All Up to You" by Slywia Chutnik - Translated from Polish
  12. "Covert Joy" by Clarice Lispector- Translated from Portuguese 
  13. "The Daughter, The Wife, and the Mother" by Arupa Kilita - Translated from Assam
  14. "Red Glow of the New Moon" by Kundanika Kapadia - translated from Gujarati
  15. "Breaking Point" by Usha Mahajan- translated from Hindu
  16. "The Gentleman Thief" by Goli Taragri - translated from Persian

Participating in Women in Translation Month has been a great experience for me, discovering wonderful new to me writers.  

Goli Taragri is a leading Persian writer of short stories, born in Tehran into a distinguished family, she moved to Paris in 1980 after the Iranian Revolution, she never returned to live in Iran but in the 1980s she would occasionally visit.  Much of her work deals with the social and emotional consequences of the revolution.  

"The Gentleman Thief" is the lead story in her 2013 collection, The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons, translated from Persian by Sara Khalili.  It centers on a once affluent family in Tehran, a daughter, working on a degree in philosophy, her nervous mother, her father is dead, and her very eccentric grandmother.  The keep to themselves in fear of The Revolutionary Guard, they have lots of valuable antiquities but the government is now claiming ownership nationwide of all such items.  One days three young men from The Revolutionary Guard enter their house and advise them they must move out as it has been declared government property.  They are given just a few days to leave a house they have occupied since before the daughter was born.  They are all in great emotional turmoil, especially the grandmother who points an antique riffle at the guards.  After some very emotional days, they wind up in an uncle's house.  He has spent years in India, absorbing spiritual teachings.  He has a servant and a dog. 

One night a thief enters their house.  This sets in motion a plot a series of events so strange and beautiful I just must leave it untold.   I almost exclaimed for joy as the story continued.  I will say the daughter left Tehran and came back fifteen years later to an amazing discovery.  

There are two of her translated stories online online at Words Without Borders.  I hope to get to them soon.

Persian (also called Fersi) is the official language of Iran, with about 110,000,000 million speakers.  It also an official language of Afghanistan.  



GOLI TARAGHI (b. 1939 in Tehran) has been honored as a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in France and won the Bita Prize for Literature and Freedon given by Stanford University in 2009. She earned an undergraduate degree in philosophy in the United States and returned to Tehran to study and work in international relations and, later, to teach philosophy. Most of her work has been published in France and, though frequently censored in Iran, circulates widely there and internationally. Her stories have been included in various anthologies, including including Reza Aslan’s Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East (Norton, 2011); Words without Borders: The World through the Eyes of Writers (Anchor: 2007); and Nahid Mozaffari’s Strange Times, My Dear: The PEN Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature (Arcade, 2005). She lives in Paris

SARA KHALILI’s translations include Censoring an Iranian Love Story by Shahriar Mandanipour, The Book of Fate by Parinoush Saniee, and Kissing the Sword: A Prison Memoir by Shahrnush Parsipur. She has also translated several volumes of poetry by Forough Farrokhzad, Simin Behbahani, Siavash Kasraii, and Fereydoon Moshiri. She lives in New York.  - from the publisher.

Mel u




Sunday, August 20, 2017

"Breaking Point" - A Short Story by Usha Mahajan (Translated from Hindi)



A Very Interesting Article on Usha Mahajan - from The Hindu Times


Information on Women in Translation Month - August, 2017


Short stories I have read so far for Women In Translation Month - August, 2017

  1. "Happy New Year" by Ajaat Cour - Translated from Punjabi
  2. "The Floating Forest" by Natsuo Kirino- Translated from Japanese
  3. " A Home Near the Sea" by Kamala Das - Translated from Malayalam
  4. "Maria" by Dacia Maraini- Translated from Italian
  5. "Zletka" by Maja Hrgovic - Translated from Croatian
  6. "Arshingar" by Jharna Raham - Translated from Bengali
  7. "Tsipke" by Salomea Perl - Translated from Yiddish
  8. "Mother" by Urmilaw Pawar - Translated from Marathi
  9. "My Creator, My Creation" by Tiina Raevaara - Translated from Finnish
  10. "Cast Offs" by Wajida Tabassum - Translated from Urdu
  11. It's All Up to You" by Slywia Chutnik - Translated from Polish
  12. "Covert Joy" by Clarice Lispector- Translated from Portuguese 
  13. "The Daughter, The Wife, and the Mother" by Arupa Kilita - Translated from Assam
  14. "Red Glow of the New Moon" by Kundanika Kapadia - translated from Gujarati
  15. "Breaking Point" by Usha Mahajan- translated from Hindu


"Breaking Point" by Usha Mahajan stands as a poignant warning to women all over the world who are mistresses of wealthy married men, living from gifts and bribes, trying to hide from themselves what their place really is in the man's life.  The woman in this story, set in Calcutta, is at a fancy restaurant with the man.  He is a wealthy doctor, they met when he was taking care of her very ill husband.  She demands to know if he loves her, his response is to say, "Sorry I have emergency appointment and must go".  She asks her self why cannot I just accept many kindnesses, including a condo, and be content.  Her husband knows of the affair and has had his own self respect greatly diminished by living from the gifts to his wife.  One day he tells her to leave him and marry the man, not understanding the man does not love her enough to leave his wife, he wants no fuss.  These powerful lines go deep into things:


"'Neera, will you agree to do what I ask of you?' Before she could reply he said, 'Get Anjul to come back home. Let him stay with you.' Then after a pause he said in a flat monotone, 'Neera, why don't you marry Madhukar? He loves you. You can forget all about me.' She felt the earth slip away from under her feet. She did not dare to raise her eyes to meet his. 'I'll get your paper,' she said and went to the kitchen. Marry? What on earth for? Is marriage the ultimate of all man-women relationships? Is marriage all that holds them together? If there is more to it, what is it? Despite being married, Madhukar had come to her to steal a few moments of happiness. Was the bright vermilion she wore in the parting of her hair just a symbol of her belonging to her disabled husband? What was it that Madhukar had not done for her? He came to see her because he preferred her company to that of his wife. Would not asking for more amount to asking for too much? An admission of pettiness and greed? Of wanting to displace his wife and children to make room for herself? Shame on her! How could she ever think of doing such a thing! Admittedly she had often dreamt of appearing openly in society with Madhukar's hand in hers; but dreaming it was and no more. Wasn't she paying the price for being 'the other woman'? Another name for love is sacrifice."

The remainder of the story deals with Nedra's emotional unraveling and the disastrous consequences when she call the man's house and speaks with his wife, who knows what she is to her husband.

This story was originally written in Hindi, spoken by about 400,000,000 million.
.
I read this work in an anthology of Indian Short Stories, Our Favorite Indian Short Stories.

USHA MAHAJAN Usha Mahajan (1948—) represents the New Short story style in Hindi. A prolific writer, she is also a freelance journalist. Important among her works are Savitri Ne Kaha (story collection); Samay Ke Sakshi (interviews with journalists); Chatur Charvaha (childrens' stories); Utho Annapurna Saath Chalen (research) as well as translations of several books by Khushwant Singh.


Mel u

Saturday, August 19, 2017

"Red Glow of the New Moon" - A Short Story by Kundanika Kapadia (translated from Gujarati by Sarla Jag Mohan)















Shortstories I have read so far for Women In Translation Month - August, 2017

  1. "Happy New Year" by Ajaat Cour - Translated from Punjabi
  2. "The Floating Forest" by Natsuo Kirino- Translated from Japanese
  3. " A Home Near the Sea" by Kamala Das - Translated from Malayalam
  4. "Maria" by Dacia Maraini- Translated from Italian
  5. "Zletka" by Maja Hrgovic - Translated from Croatian
  6. "Arshingar" by Jharna Raham - Translated from Bengali
  7. "Tsipke" by Salomea Perl - Translated from Yiddish
  8. "Mother" by Urmilaw Pawar - Translated from Marathi
  9. "My Creator, My Creation" by Tiina Raevaara - Translated from Finnish
  10. "Cast Offs" by Wajida Tabassum - Translated from Urdu
  11. It's All Up to You" by Slywia Chutnik - Translated from Polish
  12. "Covert Joy" by Clarice Lispector- Translated from Portuguese 
  13. "The Daughter, The Wife, and the Mother" by Arupa Kilita - Translated from Assam
  14. "Red Glow of the New Moon" by Kundanika Kapadia - translated from Gujarati

Today's story, "Red Glow of the New Moon" by Kundhanika Kapadia, translated from Gujarati is a beautiful story about the joys a reading life can bring.  I am so glad I read this classic reading life story, I might never have discovered it but for my participation in Women in Translation Month.

The central character of this story is a quite elderly woman, living in Gujarati, India with her extended family.  She has always been a deep reader of literature and philosophy and spiritual teachings.  She especially loves the poetry of Tagore, Yeats, Rilke, and Blake.  She has much of their work and spirit fully internalized.  She lives with her two sons and their wives.  She has another son who moved to America long ago and has married an American woman.  He and his wife are on the Way Home, having been advised Mother is very ill.

No one in her family understands her relationship to the beauty she finds in literature.  She is worried how her American daughter in law will fit in, she remembers long ago, she has never met her, she sent her a collection of the poetry of Tagore as a wedding gift.


"She glanced at the sky from the window. She had so arranged her bed that through the window she could have a good view of the neem tree in the courtyard. Very often, the boughs of the neem tree swung violently in the wind and seemed to be trying to touch the window. Through the gaps between the boughs she could get a glimpse of the blue sky and bits of clouds occasionally floating across the sky. At times a noisy bird would come and perch on the boughs. The bird with a long tail, may be doodhraj. Normally that bird lives amidst dense foliage of
trees and is not easily seen. But the bird came and sat in such a way as though it had come to visit her. There was much excitement in the house. Deepankar and Maria were to arrive by the afternoon flight. Deepankar was her youngest son. He had gone to the States seven years ago. He had married an American girl. He had often written to say that he wanted to come home, but had not. But now that the mother was on her deathbed, he was coming with his wife. An American girl. She wondered what she would be like. She smiled faintly to herself. It was a song by Tagore, rendered into Gujarati by the poet Meghani —'I wonder what she would have been, my mother. I don't remember in the least.' In her own time she had pored over Tagore's writing. Tagore and Yeats and Ibsen. On Sundays, she would go with friends to the riverbank or to the forest. They would eat and drink, rest under
the trees, sing songs and then they would recite some poems aloud... Tagore's 'I shall not let you go...' and William Blake's 'To see the world in a grain of sand...' And 'I will arise and go now.... to see where night and day the waters of the lake pat the bank —that poem of Yeats they had almost learnt by heart. And the poems of Masefield —'Give me a pathway and sky overhead... a bonfire by the roadside when it's cold... again the dawn and travel once more....' She had lived in the midst of beauty in myriad forms. She had found life always worth living. And now the present generation... her elder son and his wife Maya, her middle son and his wife Chhaya... she wondered if they ever read Tagore, Kalidas, Shakespeare? As for Nietzsche and Bergson, they had probably not even heard their names! She had kept her favourite books in the bookcase in her room. Right from Creative Evolution to
Fourth Way, Ekottoarashari and Rabindra Veena..... and the combined anthology of John Donne and Blake... there were many books. But her daughter-in-laws had never touched her bookcase. They had shown no curiosity about those books. They read books by Alistair Maclean, James Hadley Chase, Ian Fleming, Gulshan Nanda. 'We are feeling bored" —that was their constant refrain. The word boredom constantly figured in their talks. She had not particularly experienced boredom in her life. "

The remarks on boredom really struck me.  Her reading has kept her from every experiencing boredom.  She has found a transcendent beauty.

"Amiel. Bergson, Tagore... she and her husband talked about them as if they were their friends. They had drunk deep from their writings, their lives and their philosophy. And now the moment of death was not far away. The greatest, most delightful moment—the highest experience of life. She wanted to retain the glow of that moment like the full moon or the new moon, with its reddish light so that it would drench her limbs."

The closing of this story is simply wonderful, I know I am gushing but like the narrator I am so glad I grateful to be able to feel the depth of love in the close of this story.
Her American daughter in law comes to sit with her.  She recalls Years ago she had sent her American daughter in law an edition of the poetry of Tagore.  The daughter in law had memorized and internalized the poems.  A deep immediate love was formed between two very different on the surface Women.  As they look out of the window at the glow of the red moon, they both sense the moon has come to say goodbye.  The woman is now ready to move to another plane of existence, joyous that she has at last truly bonded with another lover of the Reading Life.  

I thought it very interesting that it is noted that she read Tagore in translation.  

This story can be read in a first rate anthology, Our Favorite Indian Short Stories.

Gujarati, spoken primarily in the state of Gujarat, has about 50,000,000 million speakers.

Mel u




Friday, August 18, 2017

"The Daughter, the Wife, and the Mother" - A Short Story by Arupa Kalita (translated from Assam, 2011)




Short stories I have read so far for Women In Translation Month - August, 2017

  1. "Happy New Year" by Ajaat Cour - Translated from Punjabi
  2. "The Floating Forest" by Natsuo Kirino- Translated from Japanese
  3. " A Home Near the Sea" by Kamala Das - Translated from Malayalam
  4. "Maria" by Dacia Maraini- Translated from Italian
  5. "Zletka" by Maja Hrgovic - Translated from Croatian
  6. "Arshingar" by Jharna Raham - Translated from Bengali
  7. "Tsipke" by Salomea Perl - Translated from Yiddish
  8. "Mother" by Urmilaw Pawar - Translated from Marathi
  9. "My Creator, My Creation" by Tiina Raevaara - Translated from Finnish
  10. "Cast Offs" by Wajida Tabassum - Translated from Urdu
  11. It's All Up to You" by Slywia Chutnik - Translated from Polish
  12. "Covert Joy" by Clarice Lispector- Translated from Portuguese 
  13. "The Daughter, The Wife, and the Mother" by Arupa Kilita - Translated from Assam

"The Daughter, the Wife, and the Mother by Arupa Patangia Kalita, translated from Assam by Snigalham Alati is the sixth story by a woman from the Indian Subcontinent upon which I have posted for Women in Translation Month, August, 2017.  Including English, India has twenty three official languages.  I will hopefully post on at least four more.  


I will, hopefully, continue this project and eventually post on a story from every official language.  This also affords me the occasion to expand my knowledge of Indian culture and history. I have five anthologies of Indian Short Stories on my E Reader and lots can be found online.  

Assam is the official language of the Assam Province, an official language of India, located in upper north eastern India. There is a long history of poetry in Assam.

Gauri Pehi is a fifty year old woman, now her life is taken up with fixing breakfast for her family, then sitting under a tree until she works on lunch.  She is clearly mentally disturbed, laughing, then crying or muttering or yelling at others in the household.  She is preoccupied with a small spot on her thigh.  Years ago at maybe thirteen she was sent as a bride.  When the groom saw the spot he thought she was a diseased witch.  Her father in law, dragging her by the hair, returns her to her family, who does not want her back.  Five times she is sent to her groom's family.  The last time at nineteen, sent back after having a child, which is kept. The last time she was returned tied down in a bullock art, screaming for her son,  as time goes on and her sister in laws have children she goes mad.

One wonderful day to Gauri, her son, now a handsome wealthy doctor comes to get his mother.  Here is the terrible closing:


"Pehi’s two younger brothers were standing next to each other. A The picture of a bullock cart floated before her eyes. The cart-driver standing with a pair of white and black bullocks, the shrill cry of the baby, the nineteen-year-old girl tied with a rope and left in the cart. A strong hand held her pinioned to the cart, Pehi making a vain effort to set herself free. The soothing security of the margosa beckoned her. 

The handsome young man looked at the old woman on the rear seat. He frowned. Was it a mistake? Pehi’s father had bought a plot of land in her name right in the middle of Guwahati. The thought brought some sort of solace to his mind. Everything was ready. Only a thumb impression and then a house, a chamber and a nursing home in future. The car started moving.
Pehi was wailing now. In her subconscious, she heard the cry of a baby. “No no no!” The young man looked again. How would Namita put up with her! Even if she did, what will people say? It is alright, something should be done. He had already told his uncle that his mother needed treatment. He would send her to a mental asylum. Who would blame him? Yes, she should be treated!"

Her life was ruined by a small spot on her thigh at age 13.  

Arupa Patangia Kalita was born in 1956 and studied at Golaghat Mission Girls High School and Debraj Roy college she did her MA in Gauhati University. She pursued her Ph.D. from Gauhati University. Besides novel, novella and short stories she writes on issues concerning women and society. Her novels and short stories have been translated to many languages. Her writings have also been included in syllabus of many colleges and universities. She writes in Assam.
































Thursday, August 17, 2017

"COVERT JOY (“ FELICIDADE CLANDESTINA”) - A Short Story by Clarice Lispector (1971, translated from Portuguese)
























The Complete Short Stories of Clarice Lispector, translated from Portuguese by Katrina Dodson (2015) is one of the great translation projects of the 21th century.  I was kindly given a review copy of this work a few months prior to publication. As I read through it in amazement I knew this book would capture the hearts of all lovers of the short story.  Benjamin Moser in his very well done introduction warns us that the work of Clarice Lispector can be like witchcraft craft to those vulnerable to her spell.  I admit to being captivated.  I proudly put her image on my blog sidebar long ago.  Anyone interested in her will surely do a Google search.  They will learn her family, she was very young, left her native Ukraine to move to north eastern Brazil, where many Jews had relocated, to escape vicious anti-Semitic pograms.  They spoke no Portuguese on but Clarice became the greatest of all Brazilian writers.  Sadly as I read this I thought few countries today, including 
America, would welcome a poor family of five from the Ukraine as new citizens.  





I could not let Women in Translation Month pass without including a post upon a short story by Clarice.  I have read all of her stories at least twice, and am slowly reading them  again and hopefully will eventually post on all 85 stories.  I found a short story perfect for the primary theme of my blog, literary works about people who lead reading centered lives.  


"Covert Joy" centers on a young girl living in Recife, where Clarice grew up.  She loves books totally.  There is a rich 
girl, a cruel bully girl, who lords it over her poorer but much better looking fellow students.  The narrator can afford to buy books so the bully girl keeps telling her to come to her house and she will loan her a book.  For days on end she makes the girl come back, always with an excuse why there is no book for her today.   Finally the bully's motherintervenes and give the girl a book.  The girl is overwhelmed with joy.  You have to love the close of the story:

"Hours later I opened it, read a few wondrous lines, closed it again, wandered around the house, stalled even more by eating some bread and butter, pretended not to know where I had put the book, found it, opened it for a few seconds. I kept inventing the most contrived obstacles for that covert thing that was joy. Joy would always be covert for me. I must have already sensed it. Oh how I took my time! I was living in the clouds . . . There was pride and shame inside me. I was a delicate queen. Sometimes I’d sit in the hammock, swinging with the book open on my lap, not touching it, in the purest ecstasy. I was no longer a girl with a book: I was a woman with her lover."


I highly recommend Why This World:A Biography of Clarice Lispector by Benjamin Moser.

Mel u


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"Slight a Rebellion of Madison" - A Short Story by J. D. Salinger (first published, December 21, 1946 in The New Yorker)


Born- New York City - January 1, 1919

Catcher in the Rye Published - 1951 - estimated sales 65,000,000

Died- Concord, New Hampshire- January 27, 2010

"Slight Rebellion of Madison" became the basis for Catcher in the Rye.  A modified version of the story appears as chapter 17.  The central character is, of course, Holden Caulfield, he is out of the prep school he hates and back in New York City, trying to hook up with Sally.  I read Catcher in the Rye about fifty years ago.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much I could recall, especially the unique style of Salinger.

I read this in an anthology I was kindly given by The New Yorker, Wonderful Town: New York Stories from The New Yorker.

Mel u