Literature In Translation Book Discussions

In partnership with Clevo Books, the Ohio Center for the Book will be celebrating authors from around the world this winter with a “Literature in Translation” book discussion series.

The series will be held 6:00 to 7:00 pm at Clevo Books in downtown Cleveland in the historic Arcades at 530 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland OH 44115. (Google Map)

Thursday, December 7, 6-7 PM

Fernanda Melchor’s Paradais

Inside a luxury housing complex, two misfit teenagers sneak around and get drunk. Franco Andrade, lonely, overweight, and addicted to porn, obsessively fantasizes about seducing his neighbor–an attractive married woman and mother–while Polo dreams about quitting his grueling job as a gardener within the gated community and fleeing his overbearing mother and their narco-controlled village. Each facing the impossibility of getting what he thinks he deserves, Franco and Polo hatch a mindless and macabre scheme.

Fernanda Melchor, born in Veracruz, Mexico, in 1982, has been hailed as one of Mexico’s most exciting new voices” (The Guardian)

Thursday, January 4, 6-7 PM

Yoko Tawada’s Memoirs of a Polar Bear

The Memoirs of a Polar Bear has in spades what Rivka Galchen hailed in the New Yorker as “Yoko Tawada’s magnificent strangeness”–Tawada is an author like no other. Three generations (grandmother, mother, son) of polar bears are famous as both circus performers and writers in East Germany: they are polar bears who move in human society, stars of the ring and of the literary world. In chapter one, the grandmother matriarch in the Soviet Union accidentally writes a bestselling autobiography. In chapter two, Tosca, her daughter (born in Canada, where her mother had emigrated) moves to the DDR and takes a job in the circus. Her son–the last of their line–is Knut, born in chapter three in a Leipzig zoo but raised by a human keeper in relatively happy circumstances in the Berlin zoo, until his keeper, Matthias, is taken away.

Yoko Tawada was born in Tokyo in 1960, moved to Hamburg when she was twenty-two, and then to Berlin in 2006. She writes in both Japanese and German, and has published dozens of books – stories, novels, poems, plays, essays – in each language.

Thursday, February 1, 6-7 PM

Maryse Condé’s The Gospel According to the New World

One Easter Sunday, Madame Ballandra puts her hands together and exclaims: “A miracle!” Baby Pascal is strikingly beautiful, brown in complexion, with gray-green eyes like the sea. But where does he come from? Is he really the child of God? So goes the rumor, and many signs throughout his life will cause this theory to gain ground. From journey to journey and from one community to another, Pascal sets off in search of his origins, trying to understand the meaning of his mission. Will he be able to change the fate of humanity? And what will the New World Gospel reveal? For all its beauty, vivacity, humor, and power, Maryse Condé’s latest novel is above all a work of combat. Lucid and full of conviction, Condé attests that solidarity and love remain our most extraordinary and lifesaving forces. SHORTLISTED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE 2023.

Maryse Condé is the Grande Dame of Caribbean Literature. She was born in Guadeloupe in 1934 as the youngest of eight siblings. She taught Francophone Literature at Colombia University in New York, and lived there for many years. She has also lived in various West African countries, most notably in Mali, where she gained inspiration for her worldwide bestseller Segu, for which she was awarded the African Literature Prize and several other respected French awards. Richard Philcox is Maryse Condé’s husband and translator.