Pakistan Observer

Literary translation journal launched

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - Islamabad—Asymptote, an online journal of global literature, launched its latest issue yesterday at the Pakistan Academy of Letters.

This was the first of a series of events the journal was organizing in eight cities across the globe including Beijing, Barcelona, Berlin, Taipei, Singapore, Chicago, and New York to celebrate its second anniversary.

Different aspects of the phenomenon of literary translation were explored by a panel of writers and translators including Aamer Hussein, Fahmida Riaz, Ilona Yusuf, and Kishwar Naheed.

Fahmida Riaz, a renowned poetess, read a poem by Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Sur Karyal, which she had translated into English for the journal while Aamer Hussein read its English version.

She also read a paper on how a literary translator should use a dictionary and said that any two languages had exact equivalents for each and every word was not a totally valid assumption and that a translator must use a dictionary in several ingenious ways.

Kishwar Naheed, another renowned poetess, praised the efforts being put in by the journal in promoting translation and foregrounding the role of a translator in literary and cultural production and said that it was enlightening to read literatures from many different cultures and countries. She said that the translations published by the journal mainly address postmodern subjects and themes.

Ilona Yusuf, who had recently guest edited a volume of Pakistani English poetry for the Canadian journal, Vallum said that she was happy to find that Asymptote brings great international works to a wide audience with the help of the best translators, often writers themselves, using modern methods of translation. Some of the works were accompanied by audio recordings in the vernacular, allowing the reader to enjoy their music.

Aamer Hussein, a contributing editor of Asymptote, shared his experiences of working with his Italian translators. He said that one of the pleasures of working with Asymptote had been soliciting essays and translations from such fine practitioners of craft as Marilyn Hacker, Sara Suleri, and Geeta Patel.

He said that being a multi lingual reader he not only enjoyed pieces in original Italian, Spanish, and French but also relished looking at the creativity the translators bring to their task.

Earlier, Mushtaq ur Rasool Bilal, editor at large of Asymptote in Pakistan, briefed the audience about the journal and said that the it had published translations from 74 different languages, 53 countries, and 4 Nobel laureates and is read in several countries across the globe.

He said that Howard Goldblatt, the official translator of last year’s Nobel laureate MoYan was also one the contributing editors of the journal.

He said that the journal continued to ensure the representation of Pakistan literature and have featured translations of works by Afzal Ahmad Syed, Hijab Imtiaz Ali, and Mushtaq Ahmed Yousafi.

The audience engaged applauded the efforts being put in by the journal in bringing many different literatures from various parts of the world together at one place and making these literatures accessible to Pakistani readers.—Online

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