Born Translated


Born Translated

The Contemporary Novel in an Age of World Literature

Rebecca L. Walkowitz 2015

E-Book: 337 pages

Publisher: Columbia University Press

Price: 1000 Toman

Download: Born Translated: The Contemporary Novel in an Age of World Literature (Walkowitz 2015).

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As a growing number of contemporary novelists write for publication in multiple languages, the genre’s form and aims are shifting. Born-translated novels include passages that appear to be written in different tongues, narrators who speak to foreign audiences, and other visual and formal techniques that treat translation as a medium rather than as an afterthought. These strategies challenge the global dominance of English, complicate “native” readership, and protect creative works against misinterpretation as they circulate. They have also given rise to a new form of writing that confounds traditional models of literary history and political community.

Born Translated builds a much-needed framework for understanding translation’s effect on fictional works, as well as digital art, avant-garde magazines, literary anthologies, and visual media. Artists and novelists discussed include J. M. Coetzee, Junot Díaz, Jonathan Safran Foer, Mohsin Hamid, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jamaica Kincaid, Ben Lerner, China Miéville, David Mitchell, Walter Mosley, Caryl Phillips, Adam Thirlwell, Amy Waldman, and Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries. The book understands that contemporary literature begins at once in many places, engaging in a new type of social embeddedness and political solidarity. It recasts literary history as a series of convergences and departures and, by elevating the status of “born-translated” works, redefines common conceptions of author, reader, and nation.


A work of resounding insight and unremitting freshness, Born Translated matter-of-factly deconstructs the assumption that national belonging is natural to literature, showing how this assumption structures the sense we make of contemporary world fiction and how much more sense that fiction makes without it.

(Bruce Robbins, Columbia University)

Erudite and meticulous, with a comfort zone extending from Cervantes to Roberto Bolaño, Orhan Pamuk, and Haruki Murakami, Rebecca L. Walkowitz gives us a theory of world literature based on works that are ‘born translated,’ incorporating cross-lingual circulation as part of their compositional processes. Eye-opening and field-defining.

(Wai Chee Dimock, Yale University)

Walkowitz transforms our understanding of the contemporary novel by demonstrating how far translation has become its engine rather than its afterthought. We cannot think of the history of the novel any more without considering its intimate and dynamic relation to translation. A remarkable tour de force.

(Robert J. C. Young, Julius Silver Professor of English and Comparative Literature, New York University)

An excellent proposition for literary history.

(Will H. Corral World Literature Today)

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