Ishiguro Before and After: On Translating a Nobel Laureate into Ukrainian

By Tetiana Savchynska

On October 5 I awoke to the news that Kazuo Ishiguro had received this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature. I was overjoyed. Over the past few months I had been translating his latest novel, The Buried Giant, into Ukrainian, and therefore felt a particular kinship with both the author and his characters. As with all my previous translations, during the translation process I had been worried about the work’s reception in Ukraine. I had often asked myself, “Would the book receive enough publicity? Would The Buried Giant make a splash in Ukrainian or remain largely unnoticed?” Continue reading

Yoo Jae-ha’s K-Pop Masterpiece Because I Love You, 30 Years After His Untimely Death

By Colin Marshall

Thirty years ago this month, a Korean singer-songwriter by the name of Yoo Jae-ha died at the age of 25. Had the car accident that killed him happened a few months earlier, before he released his first and only album Because I Love You, Korean pop music, now better known as “K-pop,” might have taken a different sonic direction entirely. Though he died believing it had failed, his record has not just risen to the status of a beloved pop masterpiece but emanates an influence still clearly heard in hit songs in South Korea today. The posthumously granted title “Father of Korean Ballads,” as well as a music scholarship and yearly song contest, honor his memory, but on some level they also acknowledge that Korean pop music may never see — or more importantly, hear — an innovator like him again. Continue reading

Ta-Nehisi Coates Discusses We Were Eight Years In Power, the Trump Administration, and the Influence of Hip-Hop on His Writing

By Pamela Avila

“You should be scared. You laugh not to cry, but don’t laugh too much, you should be scared,” said author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates to 1,270 people on November 6 during a sold-out event for his latest collection We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre. Coates was in conversation with Elizabeth Hinton, author of From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America. She came with no softball questions, and Coates held no punches. Continue reading

Try to Get Some Distance Between Yourself and Your Moment: Talking to Anthony Reed

By Andy Fitch

This conversation, transcribed by Phoebe Kaufman, focuses on Anthony Reed’s Freedom Time: The Poetics and Politics of Black Experimental Writing, winner of the Modern Language Association’s William Sanders Scarborough Prize. Reed, an Associate Professor of English and African American Studies at Yale, is currently completing a study of how recorded collaborations between black poets and musicians refract historical shifts in the aesthetic and political possibilities available to these artists and to broader cultures. Many related concerns arise amid the dense texualities read closely in Freedom Time, Reed’s first book. Continue reading

Why is Tilda Swinton in Bangladesh? The Dhaka Lit Fest, Of Course.

By C.P. Heiser

The Dhaka Lit Fest is happening this week in the capital of Bangladesh, a touch over 8000 miles away from Los Angeles. It’s hosting over 200 participants from nearly two dozen countries, and will welcome thousands of visitors over the course of its three days. Launching one of the world’s most exciting literary festivals, in the middle of the world’s densest megacity, is accomplishment enough. But managing it year after year, meeting increased expectations, and handling the particular challenges of a place like Bangladesh, make the Dhaka Lit Fest one of the most remarkable literary events in the world. Continue reading

The New Appeal of Blake Shelton

By Erin Coulehan

This week, Blake Shelton was named People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” for 2017. The annual honor reflects the cultural standards and general mood of the country. Past winners include stereotypical Hollywood heartthrobs like Brad Pitt and George Clooney (who’s received the honor not once, but twice) that showcase the values of virility at the particular moment. In light of Shelton’s newly acquired “sexiest man” status, well…welcome to Trump’s America. Continue reading

Asking for a Friend: In Love and In Agony

Dear Olive,

I’m in love with my best friend. We don’t live in the same city, but we text or talk almost every day, sometimes for hours at a stretch. We have a deep honesty in which we talk about sex (more graphically than I do with anyone else), our various crushes/partners when we have them, our families, money, our work, everything. We make each other laugh like crazy people, we’re in the same field, we have more in common than not, and as a rom-com character might say, he’s the person I want to talk to about the book I’ve just read, the people I meet, all my decisions and insecurities and delights. Continue reading

The Grotesque Aesthetic Morality of The Florida Project

By Geoff Nelson

Near the end of director Sean Baker’s recent critically-acclaimed film The Florida Project, the vulgar and precocious seven-year-old Moonee, played by Brooklynn Prince, and her mother Halley, played by Instagram star Bria Vinaite, attempt to clean the motel room they call home. Halley sprays the room’s window with glass cleaner, an allusion to the movie’s opening scene where Moonee and her feral friends spit on, and then are forced to clean, a car windshield. In the world of the film, it matters what’s dirty, what’s clean, who does the dirtying, and who cleans up. The circumstances of this instance of straightening up are bleak — a visit from Child Protective Services visit in which custody of Moonee will be decided looms — but the cleaning subplot reveals many of the embedded questions of Baker’s film. The aesthetic circumstances of child-rearing prove to be decisive in The Florida Project, in which Baker suggests that of all the terrible consequences of late-stage American capitalism, the worst may be how its aesthetic ugliness forces people into moral corruption. Continue reading