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The International Library

The International Library Part II: Translating Traditions / Translating the Book of Genesis

June 15, 2023

A striking example of translation and its many layers—of language, of myth, of tradition—Mexican author Carmen Boullosa’s The Book of Eve (El libro de Eva) twists, challenges, and ultimately revises a classic tale for a contemporary moment. As Eve, fueled by “fiery disobedience,” tells her own version of the Book of Genesis, she brazenly rejects the stories that have oppressed women across millennia. No, she was not created from Adam’s rib; no, she was not expelled from the Garden of Eden for nibbling a forbidden apple; and no, humanity was not deluged by a great flood. We joined translator Samantha Schnee and Boullosa for a conversation about translation twice (and sometimes thrice) over.

In Conversation

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    Carmen Boullosa

    Carmen Boullosa

    Carmen Boullosa is one of Mexico’s leading novelists, poets, and playwrights. She has published over a dozen novels, two of which were designated the Best Novel Published in Mexico by the prestigious magazine Reforma—her second novel, Before, also won the renowned Xavier Villaurrutia Prize for Best Mexican Novel; and her novel La otra mano de Lepanto was also selected as one of the Top 100 Novels Published in Spanish in the past 25 years. Her most recent novel, Texas: The Great Theft won the 2014 Typographical Era Translation Award, was shortlisted for the 2015 PEN Translation Award, and has been nominated for the 2015 International Dublin Literary Award. Boullosa has received numerous prizes and honors, including a Guggenheim fellowship. Also a poet, playwright, essayist, and cultural critic, Boullosa is a Distinguished Lecturer at City College of New York, and her books have been translated into Italian, Dutch, German, French, Portuguese, Chinese, and Russian.

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    Samantha Schnee

    Samantha Schnee

    Samantha Schnee is a 2023 National Endowment of the Arts Literature Fellow in Translation, supporting her work to render Boullosa’s Gijon Prize winning novel, El complot de los románticos, into English as Dante Hits the Road. Her translation of Boullosa’s Texas: The Great Theft was shortlisted for the PEN America Translation Prize. She is the founding editor of Words Without Borders.

    Photo Credit: Anita Staff