The Los Angeles Review of Books

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Making It Sing: A Conversation with Ilona Yazhbin Chavasse, Translator of Yuri Rytkheu’s “When the Whales Leave”

THE FIRST TIME I read Ilona Yazhbin Chavasse’s translation, from the Russian, of Chukchi author Yuri Rytkheu’s When the Whales Leave, it was like falling into a trance. Its language induces a type of hypnosis that compels the reader to read straight through to the end. In the readings that followed, I was able to slow myself down, but the text kept...

Two Questions for Rudolfo Anaya

On June 28, Rudolfo Anaya died in his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The man commonly referred to as the Father of Chicano literature had been suffering from ill health for a while. For many of us who shared in some or all of his cultural touchstones—and who therefore embraced his literature—it felt as though a family member had passed. Two generations...

True Southern Heritage: An Interview with S. A. Cosby

WITH SMOKING TIRES, loud exhaust, and blue lights flashing, S. A. Cosby’s Blacktop Wasteland roars to life in a street race fever pitch equal parts breakneck thriller and rural noir. But let this be certain: this novel is more than just a high-octane page-turner. Its propulsion is matched and even exceeded by a full cast of fleshed-out characters and...

Cringe and Catastrophe: Madeleine Watts’s Climate Fiction

MIDWAY THROUGH Madeleine Watts’s debut novel, The Inland Sea, the narrator proclaims her love for the 1945 drama Brief Encounter. She likes the film because it’s “so cautious, so small,” and because every scene seems to occur “in a railway station, a drawing room, a cinema, a tearoom, as though all of England were nothing more than cramped spaces where...

Letter from Marseille

ON A GRAY DAY in Paris in late November, I was walking with A. in the Buttes Chaumont, complaining about a translation of mine that was going so poorly that I’d started having preemptive headaches whenever I opened my laptop. It had rained all morning, I remember, and the lawn and patches of woods we crossed were still wet. When we’d climbed halfway...

What Was Christendom?

NOT FAR FROM the headquarters of the Bank of England and the Mayor of London’s official Mansion House, on a side street named Walbrook, situated between Cannon Street and Bank Junction, a group of construction workers in 1954 accidentally broke into a subterranean room buried for centuries. While excavating what was to be the foundations for a skyscraper...

Against Inertia

May 2020 I’VE HAD TROUBLE distinguishing dreams from waking life from my screens lately. In Palermo Palermo, Pina’s dancer slips a ring off her finger and puts it in her mouth, proceeding to drink from her coffee cup. She takes another ring off and sips again, swallowing her coffee with iron as aftertaste. Video footage of the premiere performance...

In Search of a Lost Relation

DESPITE THE IMMENSE IMPORTANCE of André du Bouchet in French letters, he remains an obscure figure to English readers. A major poet, translator, and art critic, friend of René Char and Yves Bonnefoy, du Bouchet (1924–2001) follows a rich tradition of avant-garde French writers whose work eludes being placed into any single school of thought. One could...

French Connections: Hirokazu Kore-eda on The Truth; Joyce Zonana on Henri Bosco’s Malicroix

This week, Medaya speaks with acclaimed filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda about his new film, The Truth (La Vérité), starring French film screen legends Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche. Kore-eda discusses complicated family dynamics, the relationship between art and truth-telling and what brought him to France. In our second interview, Kate and Medaya...

The Art of Dissent

A MEMBER OF the “Duck and Cover Generation” of the 1960s and ’70s, I have always been fascinated by Eastern and Central European dissidents. The stories of brave rebels on the other side of the Iron Curtain not only beguiled my young mind but also stood in stark contrast to my own feelings of helplessness as my classmates and I scrambled under our desks,...

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