Apr 16, 2013 1
There was a crowd of lushes at the bar of the Hotel Rex, so I was a few minutes late to the reading in the Salon. One of the most respected writers in Russia, Mikhail Shishkin, was reading passages in Russian from his novel Maidenhair. They were then read in English by his translator, Marian Schwartz. The Salon was full – it seats 75 and there are sketches of some “ink-stained wretches” on the wall. Poe was staring over the Russian writer’s shoulder while he read.
The event was put on by the Center for the Art of Translation. After 20 minutes of hearing from the book, the moderator, Scott Esposito, asked the author and translator questions. He began by referring to the novel as a success, but Shishkin questioned the premise, asking if he meant the American way of success — in other words, numbers of books sold. That would put him on the level of a supermarket romance novel. He noted that crime stories sold better in Russia, and that a certain critic said he would “eat his underpants in public” if the book sold more than 50,000 copies in one year. It did, but he didn’t. Read the rest of this entry »