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George Saunders

The vapor between languages: Idra Novey on writing and translation

The vapor between languages: Idra Novey on writing and translation

"For translation to be an art, you have to make the uncomfortable but necessary transgressions an artist makes." The words are spoken to the translator-protagonist of Idra Novey's debut novel, though after our recent conversation, they also feel like an imperative from the author herself.

Novey — poet, translator, and now novelist — has created something special with the brisk, beautiful "Ways to Disappear" (Little, Brown: 258 pp, $25), a book that blooms in the spaces between languages, between continents, between selves past and present. A kind of South American noir, the story concerns Beatriz Yogada, a famously eccentric Brazilian novelist whose...

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