Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination


In Crossing Borders, Lynne Sharon Schwartz has assembled sixteen stories and essays by prominent fiction writers and translators about the way in which translation operates in our lives. We come to see that translation lends itself to a wide variety of metaphorical uses, among them misunderstandings in love, war, and other major life events. In Joyce Carol Oates's story "The Translator," a traveler to an Eastern European country falls in love with a woman he gets to know through an interpreter, but when he gets a new interpreter, the woman becomes a stranger and his love for her evaporates. In Lydia Davis's playful "French Lesson I: Le Meurtre," what begins as an innocuous lesson in beginner's French soon hints at something more sinister. And in the essay "On Translating and Being Translated," Primo Levi addresses the dangers and difficulties awaiting the translator, concluding that each translation invariably loses something of the original, but it is worth doing anyway. Ultimately the stories and essays in this collection are about no less than communication itself: its limitations, its rewards, and above all its importance in today's rapidly shrinking world.

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Lynne Sharon Schwartz is the author of nearly two-dozen works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and memoir. She has been nominated for the National Book Award, the PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Novel, and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. She won the PEN Renato Poggiolo Award for Translation in 1991. Schwartz lives in New York City.