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New Discoveries in Translation

Two Lines' 2002 Issue: Ghosts

I love the uncontainable excitement that comes with reading a well-written story. In fact, I've been know to pass out photocopies of short stories to unsuspecting strangers on MUNI, mail paper-clipped pages of poetry to family across the country and thrust paperbacks on friends at parties.

The translators published in Two Lines have the same enthusiasm for sharing good literature, but amplified. A journal produced by the Center for Art in Translation, each piece is a translation that might not otherwise find an English audience. The translators' passion for their work goes well beyond my own personal "photocopy PR campaigns," as they spend years bringing these writers' works to new audiences.

The 2002 issue, Ghosts, manages to showcase writers from more than 18 countries, writing from four continents, in less than 270 pages. Ghosts authors cover topics ranging from tenants in a Russian apartment building with thin walls to the tribulations of a twelve-year-old on death row in Rwanda. The diversity of the authors creates an extraordinary collection of compelling literature.

The theme of ghosts in this year's issue is found in the retelling of traditional ghost stories, remembrance and mis-remembrance, stories of the past and poems addressing the uncertainty of the future. Translations are printed with the original text on the left page, counterbalancing the translation on the right. This structure focuses on the work of the translators as much as the authors.

If you usually skim introductions, DON'T. Each translation is prefaced with commentary from the translator. The eloquent introductions describing the writer's diction, the beauty of a particular word choice and the struggles innate in translation are as inspiring as the translations.

Two Lines has given me a new admiration for translators and the bridges they create between cultures. But I am a bit jealous, now that I am so keenly aware of my own lingual limitations. While reading Two Lines, I found myself staring longingly at the original text printed on the left side of each page. I wish I were reading the text for the first time, as it was written and as the translators first experienced them.

But until my foreign language skills improve, I will be passing along copies of Ghosts to the guy who works at my coffee shop, the girl down the street and anyone else who will let me share a journal filled with the best of international literature.

Two Lines' 2002 Issue: Ghosts
By the Center for Art in Translation
Softcover: 283 pages, $14.00

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