New York State Writers Institute

October 19, 2006
(Thursday)

4:15 p.m. Translation Seminar
with Lydia Davis & Gregory Rabassa
Campus Center 375

8:00 p.m. Reading
Recital Hall, PAC

Both UAlbany Uptown Campus
Translator & Memoirist
Gregory Rabassa
Gregory Rabassa

Gregory Rabassa's well-loved translations of Gabriel García Márquez, Julio Cortázar, Mario Vargas Llosa, Clarice Lispector, Miguel Ángel Asturias, and Jorge Amado have brought about nothing less than a revolution in the literary sensibilities of English readers in the United States, Europe, and the former British Commonwealth. Rabassa is perhaps best-known for his renowned translation of García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude (1970), a National Book Award finalist that has been a perennial bestseller, a revelation to fiction readers and writers of all generations, and a mandatory text of literature courses at high schools and universities throughout the world.

Novelist García Márquez has called the Yonkers-born translator, "The Best Latin American writer in the English language," and has even declared that Rabassa's translation of One Hundred Years of Solitude "improved the original." The New York Times has called Rabassa the "anonymous superhero" of contemporary literature.

The 84-year-old translator's new memoir is If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents (2005). He opens his book with the assertion that translation, because it is impossible, is a betrayal of the original--though this has never stopped him from trying.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, Michael Henry Heim said that the new memoir, "represents an insider's view that is available nowhere else, and everyone, neophytes as well as past or present Spanish majors, can profit from it."

The son of an expatriate Cuban sugar broker who "didn't speak much Spanish around the house," Rabassa has translated nearly 60 works, by some 30 writers, from a dozen countries, in two languages (Spanish and Portuguese). He received the National Book Award for his translation of Julio Cortázar's Hopscotch (1966), and the American PEN translation prize for García Márquez's The Autumn of the Patriarch (1976).

Recent translations include Jorge Franco's Rosario Tijeras (2004), Jesús Zárate's Jail (2003), António Lobo Antunes' The Return of the Caravels (2002), Ana Teresa Torres's Doña Inés vs. Oblivion (1999), and Irene Vilar's A Message from God in the Atomic Age (1996). Other notable translations include Jorge Amado's Sea of Death (1984), Luisa Valenzuela's The Lizard's Tail (1983), Demetrio Aguilera-Malta's Seven Serpents and Seven Moons (1979), Miguel Asturias's Mulata (1967), and Clarice Lispector's The Apple in the Dark (1967).