Wimmer interview/profile in CS Monitor

There is a long interview with and profile of Natasha Wimmer in the Christian Science Monitor.

In the spring of 2006, Natasha Wimmer left her job at a Manhattan trade publication and moved with her husband to Cuauhtemoc, a bustling neighborhood in the northwest of Mexico City. Their flat overlooked Calle Abraham Gonzalez, not far from a cafe called La Habana, and Ms. Wimmer spent many afternoons there, reading and chatting with Mexican friends.

At the time, she was working on the first English translation of “The Savage Detectives,” by the novelist Roberto Bolano, who died in 2003. Bolano was Chilean, but had drifted in and out of Mexico City throughout his life, first as an adolescent, then as a revolutionary and litterateur.

“He was a geographically obsessed writer, especially when it came to Mexico City. He always told you exactly where he was going —down to the street, the intersection, the building,” Wimmer remembers. “Cafe La Habana, for instance, was the basis for Cafe Quito,” an important set piece in “The Savage Detectives.” (The book, which traces the literary and political adventures of two ambitious poets, is partly autobiographical.)

“Being in the middle of that was very clarifying, and very useful,” Wimmer says. “I found I understood the cultural references better, and had a closer sense of the vibrancy of the place. And that’s what I wanted to capture. The book has such a quality of urgency and ease. So many other books I’d read felt willed, and this one didn’t. It seemed essential.”

These days, Wimmer lives on the third floor of a carefully restored brownstone in Harlem, far from the noise and traffic of Mexico City. On a snowy Saturday this month, while her husband watched their young daughter, Wimmer recounted the years—more than three in all—she’d spent translating “Detectives,” and then “2666,” Bolano’s 992-page posthumous masterpiece, released by Farrar, Straus and Giroux last December.

Just imagine all the publicity Bolano would be getting were he alive. He would be a true literary superstar, contending for the Nobel, worldwide audience awaiting his next book, etc. Only the good die young.

Powells Interviews Wimmer

Bolaño translator and surrogate publicity figure Natasha Wimmer was asked the same questions again, this time by Powells.com.

Jeremy: Do you initially query a publisher about translating a specific author, or an author’s work, or do publishing houses employ staff translators?

Wimmer: The way it happened for me was that I was working editorial at FSG [Farrar, Straus and Giroux], and FSG does a lot of books in translation. Because my background was in Spanish literature, I did a lot of work looking at sample translations and working with translated manuscripts.

At a certain point, a book came in, Dirty Havana Trilogy by Pedro Juan Gutierrez, and we were having a hard time finding someone to translate it. I thought, Maybe I’ll give it a try. That’s how I got started. I got in through the back door, and I was grateful to FSG for giving me the chance.

Another Wimmer Interview

Despite its condescending opening (“It’s part of the rhythm of our self-absorbed American culture that we seem able to process only one foreign language writer at time. But when we do, we do it with a vengeance.”), this Fresh Air story about Bolano and 2666 extols his writing and adds to the acclaim of the novel.
This time at Flavorwire/Flavorpill:

FW: Who are your favorite authors, and who are your favorite authors to translate?

NW: A few recent favorites: Horacio Castellanos Moya’s Senselessness and Francisco Goldman’s The Art of Political Murder (try reading these back to back; two very different treatments of the same Central American tragedy). Also, in no particular order: V. S. Naipaul, Norman Rush, David Foster Wallace, John Updike, Geoff Dyer, Ann Beattie, Alice Munro, George Saunders. Among others. I don’t really have a favorite author to translate: some styles come more naturally than others, but by the time I’ve worked through a book it’s so familiar that it’s hard for me to judge it objectively.

Event at Idlewild Books

Sarah Kerr reviews 2666 and The Romantic Dogs in the most recent issue of the New York Review of Books.

Bolano’s vision is fierce, not total. Technology, various kinds of intimacy, and levity as opposed to satire don’t have much of a place here. Bolano’s sexual staging can feel like a lecture; his women can seem larger or smaller than life.

I disagree with that second sentence. Just in the first part of 2666 you see lots of emailing (technology), Norton’s multiple and endearing romances {not to mention the unusual friendship of Pelletier and Espinoza} (various kinds of intimacy), and El Cerdo (levity).

New York Times by Jonathan Lethem

Boston Phoenix by Peter Keough

TIME by Lev Grossman

Newsweek by Malcolm Jones

The Buffalo News by Jeff Simon

The Oregonian by Richard Melo

Powells.com by Jeremy Garber

St. Petersburg Times by Vikas Turakhia

San Francisco Chronicle by Alexander Cuadros

Toronto Globe and Mail by J.S. Goldbach

Toronto Star by Derek Weiler


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Thursday, December 4, 7:00 p.m. at Idlewild Books (19th St. & 5th Ave.), Natasha Wimmer and Francisco Goldman will discuss 2666.

Anyone going? Leave a report in the comments.

Village Voice Interviews Natasha Wimmer

This is a longer version of an interview that appeared in the Voice’s new column Lit Seen.

Wimmer: 2666 is interesting, character-wise. Its characters tend to be more mask-like and less human than the characters of The Savage Detectives. But the major exception is Amalfitano,  who also happens to be my favorite. I have a special fondness for the whole Part About Amalfitano, in which Bolano is at his most tender. And Lola, Amalfitano’s deluded wife, is a great creation.

Interview with Natasha Wimmer

From New York Magazine:

The young Archimboldi’s dialect, which is based on puns —how did you go about transferring Spanish puns (spoken by a German character) into English?
Is it really puns? I just looked back over the dialogue, and I’m not sure what you mean. You strike fear into me! Missing things like that is the translator’s great dread, but it’s probably inevitable occasionally, especially with Bolaño.

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