David Bellos, Is That a Fish In Your Ear? Thursday,10/13

David Bellos

translator of

Georges Perec’s Life: A User’s Manual (1987)
& The Art and Craft of Approaching Your Head of Department
to Submit a Request for a Raise (2011);
and Ismail Kadare’s The File on H (1996) & The Siege (2008)

will present & discuss his new book

Is That a Fish in Your Ear?
Translation and the Meaning of Everything
(Faber & Faber 2011)

Thursday, October 15th, 2011, 7:00 PM

McNally Jackson Books

52 Prince Street
 (between Lafayette & Mulberry)
New York, NY 10012

“Forget the fish—it’s David Bellos you want in your ear when the talk is about translation. Bellos dispels many of the gloomy truisms of the trade and reminds us what an infinitely flexible instrument the English language (or any language) is. Sparkling, independent-minded analysis of everything from Nabokov’s insecurities to Google Translate’s felicities fuels a tender—even romantic—account of our relationship with words.” Natasha Wimmer, translator of Roberto Bolaño’s Savage Detectives and 2666

 “In the guise of a book about translation this is a richly original cultural history . . . A book for anyone interested in words, language and cultural anthropology. Mr Bellos’s fascination with his subject is itself endlessly fascinating.” The Economist

Funny and surprising on every page, Is That a Fish in Your Ear? offers readers new insight into the mystery of how we come to know what someone else means—whether we wish to understand Astérix cartoons or a foreign head of state. Using translation as his lens, David Bellos shows how much we can learn about ourselves by exploring the ways we use translation, from the historical roots of written language to the stylistic choices of Ingmar Bergman, from the United Nations General Assembly to the significance of James Cameron’s Avatar. Is That a Fish in Your Ear? ranges across human experience to describe why translation sits deep within us all, and why we need it in so many situations, from the spread of religion to our appreciation of literature; indeed, Bellos claims that all writers are by definition translators. Written with joie de vivre, reveling both in misunderstanding and communication, littered with wonderful asides, it promises any reader new eyes through which to understand the world.

Publisher’s page: http://us.macmillan.com/isthatafishinyourear/DavidBellos

Watch the video

Salon‘s Thomas Rogers talks with David Bellos about Is That a Fish In Your Ear? and translation.


David Bellos is the director of the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication at Princeton University, where he is also a professor of French and comparative literature. He has won many awards for his translations of Georges Perec, Ismail Kadare, and others, including the Man Booker International Translator’s Award. He also received the Prix Goncourt for George Perec: A Life in Words.

The Bridge is the first independent reading and discussion series in New York City devoted to literary translation. It aims to promote public awareness about the art of translation by serving as a regular venue for readings, by both well-established and emerging translators and authors, and discussions on a range of issues related to this important literary art and practice. For more information on the series and our upcoming events, please visit our website, http://thebridgeseries.org, or our Facebook page, and receive regular updates by emailing “subscribe” to: thebridgeseries@gmail.com.


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1 Response to David Bellos, Is That a Fish In Your Ear? Thursday,10/13

  1. Pingback: PEN.org » Blog Archive » David Bellos to speak at McNally Jackson » PEN.org

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