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In Translation: Megan McDowell on The Obscene Bird of Night with Hari Kunzru

Wednesday, 7:00 pm EDT July 31, 2024

The Center for Fiction
& Livestreamed

José Donoso’s The Obscene Bird of Night was one of the most brilliantly bizarre novels of “The Boom” of Latin American literature and one of the greatest novels of the century. Narrated in voices that shift and multiply, The Obscene Bird of Night frets the seams between master and slave, rich and poor, reality and nightmares, man and woman, self and other in a maniacal inquiry into the horrifying transformations that power can wreak on identity. In New Directions’s reissue—celebrating the centennial of its author’s birth—star translator Megan McDowell has revised and updated the classic translation, restoring nearly twenty pages of previously untranslated text mysteriously cut from the 1972 edition. Novelist Hari Kunzru (Red Pill) joins McDowell for a conversation and celebration of this newly complete edition of Donoso’s kaleidoscopic masterpiece.

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In Conversation

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    Megan McDowell

    Megan McDowell

    Megan McDowell lives in Santiago, Chile. She has translated many of the most important contemporary Spanish language authors, including Alejandro Zambra, Samanta Schweblin, Mariana Enríquez, and Lina Meruane. She has been nominated four times for the International Booker Prize, and was the recipient of a 2020 Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She won the 2022 National Book Award in translation alongside Samanta Schweblin for Seven Empty Houses.

    Photo Credit: courtesy of New Directions

  • Hari Kunzru headshot (2)

    Hari Kunzru

    Hari Kunzru

    Hari Kunzru is the author of six novels, Red Pill, White Tears, Gods Without Men, My Revolutions, Transmission, and The Impressionist. He is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books and writes the “Easy Chair” column for Harper’s magazine. He is an Honorary Fellow of Wadham College Oxford, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and has been a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Fellow of the American Academy in Berlin. He teaches in the Creative Writing Program at New York University and is the host of the podcast Into the Zone, from Pushkin Industries. He lives in Brooklyn.

    Photo Credit: Clayton Cubitt