First World Reading Problems Vol. 1: Translation Constipation

on Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Translation Constipation (n): The anxious but seemingly fruitless wait for newly translated works by your favourite authors to be released into the swishing toilet of public consumption.

Without a doubt, my reading discovery of 2013 has been Goncalo M. Tavares. The guy is everything I look for in an author; funny, intelligent and mind-meltingly original. After the braingasm that was The Neighbourhood, I jumped headfirst into his Kingdom series, starting with Jerusalem and then moving straight on to Joseph Walser's Machine. It seemed each book I read was better than the last. But then something awful happened. I came to the end of the trail. As I reached for Learning To Pray In The Age of Technology, I realised that it was the last of Tavares's books available in translation.

Cue the neuroses, the night sweats.

I put the book back down, afraid to find myself bereft of such literary gold. Ever the resourceful guy, I went straight to the website for Dalkey Archives to investigate. The Kingdom series is made up of four books; the three I mentioned and another called Klaus Klump: A Man. Leaving aside how absolutely awesome a book called Klaus Klump just has to be, I thought it logical that Dalkey would be set to release it any day now. I mean, who would leave a brother hanging like that? I'll tell you who. Dalkey Archives. Clicking through the forthcoming titles page I saw a whole lot of hullabaloo being made of Desmond Hogan and Alvaro Enrigue but there's sweet nada about Tavares. It's an outrage, I tell you!

I vaguely recall feeling similar frustration with Hans Fallada and Irene Nemirovsky but, for as long as I was loving their work, there always seemed to be another title in the offing. I also know that a number of other non-English-speaking authors that I love have works yet to be translated: Enrique Vila-Matas, Laszlo Krasznahorkai, even Saramago. So why such an extreme reaction when it comes to Tavares? Because the guy is literary crack cocaine and I'm damn well addicted, that's why. Not just Pepsi Max 1.25 litres a day addicted, either. I'm talking beat up a nun, mug a girl scout, rub myself against broken glass addicted.

Please Dalkey Archive... Just Klaus Klump. Then I won't annoy you again. Until the bats come calling again in my poor empty warehouse of a brain... We all know there's another 13 instalments of The Neighbourhood you have yet to release. Don't do it for me. Do it for that sweet, innocent nun.


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