Asymptote in Philadelphia

On March 29, I hosted the first-ever Asymptote event in Philadelphia. It was part of the journal’s worldwide celebration for its third anniversary and a large and enthusiastic crowd braved the rain on a Saturday night, making for a wonderful time at the Asian Arts Initiative.

Thanks to everyone who attended, and the four readers and musical guest who donated their time! Special thanks to Ann Tetreault of The Spiral Bookcase who did a superb job organizing books sales at the event.

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Author Hilary Plum (They Dragged Them Through the Streets) read a poem by Kym Hyesoon, “My Free Market” (trans. Don Mee Choi), and a new piece of her own fiction, “Cage.”

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Author Ken Kalfus (Equilateral, Pu-239 and Other Russian Fantasies) read in Russian and English a poem by Aleksey Porvin, “A Dark House is Quietly Collapsing” (trans. J. Kates), and from his short story, “Coup de Foudre,” which appears in the April issue of Harper’s.

Seven members of The Philadelphia Women’s Slavic Ensemble sang three songs from Bulgaria and one from Croatia. It was stunning!

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Author Katherine Hill read an excerpt from Clarice Lispector’s Agua Viva (trans. Stefan Tobler), and from her novel, The Violet Hour.

Translator Vincent Kling read a series of excerpts from his 2013 Schlegel-Tieck Prize-winning translation of the late Swiss author Aglaja Veteranyi’s novel, Why the Child is Cooking in the Polenta. (Kling’s translation of Heimito von Doderer’s Die Strudlhofstiege is forthcoming from New York Review Books.)

Ann Tetreault, right, of The Spiral Bookcase provided books by all four authors who appeared at the event.

A focus for 2014: My reading resolution

This is my first post. New year, new things! And to start things off I’m actually going to repeat myself: My reading resolution for 2014 is to read only books by women.

I wrote about this on Dec. 30, 2013, at Asymptote’s blog. A snippet:

A couple of weeks ago I was looking for a book at home and my eyes kept being drawn to big books: 2666, The Emperor of Lies, Ulysses, The Satanic Verses, Stone Upon Stone. Thick books with titles and author names in large font—and I noticed all by men. And what about women? I’d studied literature, helped judge the Best Translated Book Award a couple times, and I review books, so I assumed I had lots of big books, a good balance of literary work by everyone from everywhere. In a few minutes’ time though I counted eighteen big, 500-plus-page books by men and just one by a woman: Simone De Beauvoir’s The Second Sex.

The post at Asymptote links to similar writing projects and since it was published Joanna Walsh created the #readwomen2014 hashtag. Read her essay about it here.

Welcome to the blog! Curious to see where this goes.