‘I didn’t realise I was becoming untranslatable,’ Marcelo Cohen confessed after the publication of his eleventh novel, in an interview with Argentine newspaper Clarín. ‘And when I did realise, it was already too late.’ Given that Cohen is himself a renowned translator – the list of authors he has translated into Spanish reads like an index of literary influences: J.G. Ballard, T.S. Eliot, William S. Burroughs, Clarice Lispector – the fact that his writing is considered ‘untranslatable’ seems, in the words of his interviewer, like something of a ‘Karmic paradox’. And the badge of untranslatability casts a powerful spell: Cohen boasts a decades-long career and more than a dozen critically acclaimed works of fiction, yet Melodrome is the first of his novels to be published in English.
Alice Whitmore reviews 'Melodrome' by Marcelo Cohen, translated by Chris Andrews
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Alice Whitmore is the Pushcart Prize-nominated translator of Mariana Dimópulos's All My Goodbyes and Guillermo Fadanelli's See You at Breakfast?, as well as a number of poetry, short fiction and essay selections. She is the translations editor for Cordite Poetry Review and an assistant editor for The AALITRA Review, and lectures in Spanish and Literary Studies at Monash University. Her translation of Mariana Dimópulos’s Imminence is forthcoming in 2019.
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