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Leaves Sprouting on her Body

Adam Mars-Jones: Han Kang, 5 April 2018

The Vegetarian 
by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith.
Portobello, 160 pp., £8.99, November 2015, 978 1 84627 603 3
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Human Acts 
by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith.
Portobello, 224 pp., £8.99, November 2016, 978 1 84627 597 5
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The White Book 
by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith.
Portobello, 128 pp., £10, November 2017, 978 1 84627 629 3
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... only touch of reverence provided by candles stuck into empty Fanta bottles. In an introduction, Deborah Smith, the book’s translator, sketches the historical context and suggests reasons for the subject’s particular timeliness at the moment of its composition. After Park Chung-hee, who had ruled the country since 1961, was assassinated by his own ...

His Eyes, Her Voice

Ange Mlinko: ‘Greek Lessons’, 10 August 2023

Greek Lessons 
by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith and Emily Yae Won.
Hamish Hamilton, 146 pp., £16.99, April, 978 0 241 60027 6
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... An unnamed​ man and woman come together, slowly and arduously, over the course of a novel. She is a poet who has turned mute; he is a language teacher going blind. Her first bout of muteness, which struck when she was a teenager, was cured suddenly in French class by a single word: ‘bibliothèque’. Now she is attending classes in Ancient Greek to see if something in the language can dislodge her mysterious impediment ...

Guess what? It’s raining

Deborah Friedell: Murder in Florida, 5 July 2012

Injustice: Life and Death in the Courtrooms of America 
by Clive Stafford Smith.
Harvill Secker, 376 pp., £18.99, July 2012, 978 1 84655 625 8
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... weapon was never discovered, but a ballistics expert testified that it had most likely been a 9mm Smith & Wesson. Maharaj’s gun collection had included a 9mm Smith & Wesson though he claimed it had been stolen from him shortly before the murders. The star witness for the prosecution was Neville Butler, a reporter on the ...

The Politics of Translation

Marina Warner: Translate this!, 11 October 2018

This Little Art 
by Kate Briggs.
Fitzcarraldo, 365 pp., £12.99, September 2017, 978 1 910695 45 6
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Translation as Transhumance 
by Mireille Gansel, translated by Ros Schwartz.
Les Fugitives, 150 pp., £10, November 2017, 978 0 9930093 3 4
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Sympathy for the Traitor: A Translation Manifesto 
by Mark Polizzotti.
MIT, 168 pp., £17.99, May 2018, 978 0 262 03799 0
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The 100 Best Novels in Translation 
by Boyd Tonkin.
Galileo, 304 pp., £14.99, June 2018, 978 1 903385 67 8
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The Work of Literary Translation 
by Clive Scott.
Cambridge, 285 pp., £75, June 2018, 978 1 108 42682 4
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... The Vegetarian and Human Acts have won startling numbers of readers in the translations by Deborah Smith, in which the underspecification, repetition and starkness of Korean have been, by Smith’s own account and with Han’s full approval, enhanced by ‘occasional interpolations’ after she listened ‘more ...

Short Cuts

Jenny Diski: The Future of Publishing, 5 January 2012

... a novel that wasn’t accepted by one publisher after the manuscript was first submitted to W.H. Smith, who said that it wouldn’t sell enough. Deborah Levy has recently had a new novel out, good enough to make you want to read it again as soon as you’ve finished it. Numerous mainstream publishers decided not to take it ...

Desk Job

Deborah Friedell: Bernard Malamud, 15 November 2007

Bernard Malamud: A Writer’s Life 
by Philip Davis.
Oxford, 377 pp., £18.99, September 2007, 978 0 19 927009 5
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... would find things they’d said or written to Malamud tucked into his next novel. Janna Malamud Smith, Malamud’s daughter, said in her memoir My Father Is a Book that she was ‘inclined to think what was damaged by Bertha’s psychosis and despair’ was her father’s ‘ability to live easily, openly, casually in the everyday world’. Anyway, Malamud ...

Suicide by Mouth

Deborah Friedell: Richard Price, 17 July 2008

Lush Life 
by Richard Price.
Bloomsbury, 455 pp., £12.99, August 2008, 978 0 7475 9601 1
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... give you the shooter of that white boy?’ Freedomland, based on the case of a white woman, Susan Smith, who killed her children and blamed a black carjacker, is really a novel about race in America: ‘A black man did it, a black man did it. She knew her product and she knew her customers.’ But the thriller-ness, the cops and the chases, defused ...

Mighty Merry

E.S. Turner, 25 May 1995

The Diary of Samuel Pepys. Eleven Volumes, including Companion and Index 
edited by R.C. Latham and W. Matthews.
HarperCollins, 267 pp., £8.99, February 1995, 0 00 499021 8
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... a Boat in the same form, will have a mild idea of the task which faced the Cambridge graduate John Smith (a sizar, married with one child) when in 1819 he was hired to decipher the six volumes of Samuel Pepys’s diary on which Magdalene College had sat for over a century. Smith did not know the system of shorthand the ...

In America’s Blood

Deborah Friedell, 24 September 2020

The NRA: The Unauthorised History 
by Frank Smyth.
Flatiron, 295 pp., $28.99, March 2020, 978 1 250 21028 9
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... it went up to 176,000 a day. When George Floyd was killed at the end of May, sales went up again. Smith & Wesson had its best quarter of all time; gun store owners say they’re having trouble keeping ammunition in stock. The NRA isn’t wrong to take some of the credit: they successfully lobbied governors – and, when lobbying failed, filed lawsuits – to ...

‘Not I’

Adam Mars-Jones, 6 March 2014

... sort of ordeal for the actress and a new challenge for the Beckett estate. A request from Deborah Warner to stage an all-female Waiting for Godot (the intended casting was Fiona Shaw and Maggie Smith) was refused in the early 1990s, and her 1994 production of Footfalls with Shaw came up against the estate’s ...

At the Barbican

John-Paul Stonard: ‘Postwar Modern’, 23 June 2022

... became her second husband, John McHale, she was largely forgotten in Britain. The sculptor Richard Smith, and McHale himself, suffered similar neglect after leaving the UK.By the time I visited her, Cordell’s memories of the 1950s were patchy. For long stretches we said little. She smoked Carlton 100s and showed me a few collages by McHale that she kept in a ...

77 Barton Street

Dave Haslam: Joy Division, 3 January 2008

Juvenes: The Joy Division Photographs of Kevin Cummins 
To Hell with Publishing, 189 pp., £200, December 2007Show More
Joy Division: Piece by Piece 
by Paul Morley.
Plexus, 384 pp., £14.99, December 2007, 978 0 85965 404 3
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directed by Anton Corbijn.
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... Fall. They flicked through my record collection and asked me about the band’s frontman, Mark E. Smith, and his lyrics. ‘What is “mithering”?’ they wanted to know. ‘And what is “cash and carry”?’ Smith, Curtis and Morrissey created a version of Manchester that journalists and photographers began to define ...

Gen Z and Me

Joe Moran, 16 February 2023

... and authentic – seems to me more of a period effect. In her book Family Secrets, the historian Deborah Cohen argues that a ‘modern age of confession’ has been emerging in Britain since the 1930s, as attitudes towards divorce, illegitimacy, homosexuality, infidelity and mental distress have changed. Self-narration is now seen as key to psychological ...

Who Knows?

Meehan Crist: The Voynich Manuscript, 27 July 2017

The Voynich Manuscript 
edited by Raymond Clemens.
Yale, 336 pp., £35, November 2016, 978 0 300 21723 0
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... deciphered the Japanese Code Purple during the Second World War, along with his wife, Elizebeth Smith, spent almost forty years studying the manuscript. The couple met at Riverbank Laboratories just outside Chicago (a private research facility that housed an acoustic testing laboratory, set up by a textile magnate who was convinced that Francis Bacon had ...

Had I been born a hero

Helen Deutsch: Female poets of the eighteenth century, 21 September 2006

Eighteenth-Century Women Poets and Their Poetry: Inventing Agency, Inventing Genre 
by Paula Backscheider.
Johns Hopkins, 514 pp., £43.50, January 2006, 0 8018 8169 2
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... elegies of Mary Darwall and Anna Seward, the sonnet sequences of Mary Robinson and Charlotte Smith are only a few examples. The woman poet herself thus becomes a complex character, contemplating her public image with the pleasure of Mary Jones at mid-century: ‘Well, but the joy to see my works in print!/Myself too pictur’d in a mezzo-tint!’ Take ...

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