RaveAsymptoteWords weaponize, the world marches on, but Abu Al-Hayyat rests between breaths, demonstrating through a brilliant puzzle of verbal turns the ways in which trauma has distorted our time...This collection brings together verses from multiple times and tomes, holding them in conversation, exchanging the writer’s lexicons and books through the years, and digesting the whole in the face of an indifferent universe...Abu Al-Hayyat’s verse is a camera, and what it captures, what it turns toward, is not only the violence but also the aftermath, the void left by time cut short.
Corinne Hoex, tr. Caitlin O’Neil
RaveAsymptote... a truly astonishing outlier. While French literature enjoys a fairly prolific publication rate in English, the kinds of literature chosen for publication are often cerebral, philosophical, and introspective. Hoex’s series of vignettes, too, are interiorized, in that they are dreamworlds, but they are also fleshy, sensuous, and gilded with a teasing tone firmly rooted (pun intended) in sexual exploration and fulfillment ... for the contemporary reader, this play between canon and contemporary, oblique allusion and overt description, makes for a positively hilarious and pleasurable reading experience, one which excites the imagination and, yes, the body, in all sorts of ways. Reading most of Gentlemen Callers on my train commute, I found myself stifling laughter, blushing fiercely, delighting in punnery, and desperately hoping no one was reading over my shoulder. That the sensuous language comes in the form of a translation made my delight in its lush, teasing tone all the more pleasurable. O’Neil has truly pulled out all the stops here to be as playful in her translation as Hoex is in her style and construction ... While Gentlman Callers is an extremely playful book, it’s not without its darker moments, points where the harsh edges of contemporary sexual realties are thrown in sharp relief against the lighter sensuality of the surrounding texts ... Hoex’s playful romp through the transformative powers of female sensuality, rendered just as humorously in the English through O’Neil’s winking translation, toes the line of taste and teases the reader with allusions to the sex that saturates our culture, but which so often is treated with two polar opposite approaches.
María Gainza, tr. Thomas Bunstead
PositiveAsymptoteThis tight, eccentric romp through the last sixty years of Argentina’s art scene asks pressing questions about the value of art, the nature of reality, and what constitutes an individual after they’re gone. And it does so through a translation—arguably the closest textual critique—of a novel about art criticism, written by an art critic ... In reading Portrait, I couldn’t help but wonder if Bunstead, as he was translating, was as delighted as I was by the text’s assertions and demonstrations that the line between original and iteration is an imaginary one, maintained less by quality than by systems complex and fragile—so precarious that a single weakness can bring the whole thing crashing down ... The objective realities of Reneé’s existence, a translation’s fidelity, a painting’s authenticity: these are beside the point. In the world of Portrait, objective reality isn’t what matters. The only thing that matters is whether something felt real, felt true, felt genuine.
Carl de Souza trans. by Jeffrey Zuckerman
PositiveAsymptote JournalDe Souza’s densely packed novel is a disorienting one, purposefully so. He jars his readers again and again through sudden shifts in character narration, transmogrifying objects and people, and juxtapositions of violence and jubilation ... The words tumble, churn, and burn like the refuse on the streets after the riots. ... The very indefinability of the violence of this book collapses time, collapses meaning, collapses self. Translating such a dense book is no easy feat, but Zuckerman handles it admirably, allowing the sprawl of de Souza’s prose to linger and spill where other translators might be tempted to neaten or punctuate.