Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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In Crossing Borders, Lynne Sharon Schwartz has assembled sixteen stories and essays by prominent fiction writers and translators about the way in which translation operates in our lives. We come to see that translation lends itself to a wide variety of metaphorical uses, among them misunderstandings in love, war, and other major life events. In Joyce Carol Oates's story "The Translator," a traveler to an Eastern European country falls in love with a woman he gets to know through an interpreter, but when he gets a new interpreter, the woman becomes a stranger and his love for her evaporates. In Lydia Davis's playful "French Lesson I: Le Meurtre," what begins as an innocuous lesson in beginner's French soon hints at something more sinister. And in the essay "On Translating and Being Translated," Primo Levi addresses the dangers and difficulties awaiting the translator, concluding that each translation invariably loses something of the original, but it is worth doing anyway. Ultimately the stories and essays in this collection are about no less than communication itself: its limitations, its rewards, and above all its importance in today's rapidly shrinking world.

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“What an astonishing collection, it seemed as if I could drink it—these pieces exude such humanness, refer effortlessly to the tender place that exists in between languages, and somehow leave you with both everything and nothing to say.”

“Some of the best translation stories of our time.”

“A superb translator herself, Lynne Sharon Schwartz has a nuanced grasp of the deeper metaphysics of this transfer of energies, this crossing of psychological thresholds. Her selections are beautiful interrogations from fictional and essayistic vantages, and taken together they rejuvenate the age-old questions surrounding the translator's art.”

“By turns humorous, grave, chilling, and caustic, the stories and essays gathered in this volume reveal all the splendors and all the miseries of the translator's task. Some of the most distinguished translators and writers of our times offer reflections that deepen our understanding of the delicate and sometimes dangerous balancing act that translators must perform. Translators are often inconspicuous or unnoticed; here we have a chance to peer into the realities and the fantasies of those who live in two languages, and the result is altogether thrilling and instructive.”

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Lynne Sharon Schwartz is the author of nearly two-dozen works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and memoir. She has been nominated for the National Book Award, the PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Novel, and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. She won the PEN Renato Poggiolo Award for Translation in 1991. Schwartz lives in New York City.