What does it mean to endure? We know endurance is physical, a memory or tribute, a state of permanence. A form endures so long as it is not broken; a mark subsists on a page so long as its ink does not fade away, its fibers neither burnt nor soaked. Despite the forces acting on it, the body survives.
We also know that endurance goes beyond its passive meaning and instead describes something active and dynamic. A lived memory is not merely an impression on the matter of our bodies, but the force with which it returns, brimming at the edges of our awareness. The strength we need to carry on, against our various obligations, losses, desires, and triumphs, every day, is something that needs to be rediscovered each time anew. As any of us who write or translate know, the life of a written work does not solely reside on the sleeping page (or, if your writing has appeared in Exchanges, encoded onto a disk on our server, somewhere in a dark closet in Iowa City), but in the hands that open the book, that click the link, that key in the name, and the eyes and the mind and the body that read it, willing it to return.
The works that appear in this issue of Exchanges: A Journal of Literary Translation all make new claims on what it means to endure. They foreground the experiences of Black Brazilian bodies that resist police violence; of Roma schoolchildren who “aren’t afraid of the neighboring skulls // rolled down into their chests”; of migrants in Germany, crying out for “the people who fall between your cogs and perish”; of the “Realm of the Motes” where life springs from the decaying bosom of the human world;—and countless others. They bring works of literature originally written in Bengali, Bulgarian, Chinese, French, German, Malayalam, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Taiwanese, and Ukranian together, where they hold and grapple with English, challenging its contemporary readership. The translators featured in this issue—Dora Ahearn-Wood, C. J. Anderson-Wu, Elena Barcia, Jo Brachman, Christopher Buxton, Gayatri Devi, Calvin Gu Chun Guang, Ali Kinsella and Dzvinia Orlowsky, Pedro Henrique da Silva Lino, Aditi Machado, Diana Manole, Bidisha Mukherjee and H. S. Komalesha, Richard Nejdat-Haiem, and Caroline Wilcox Reul—embody and repeat these works with care and verve. Their translations, as new works in themselves, embark on their own durations.
In addition to this estimable cadre of translators, we’d like to thank the authors who have allowed us the pleasure of featuring their work: Carlos de Assumpçao, Ranajit Das, Baptiste Gaillard, Shahyar Ghanbari, Dinçer Güçyeter, Aymanam John, Zhang Huiwen, Pek-êng Koa, Halyna Kruk, Alaíde Ventura Medina, Isabel Pérez Montalbán, Yordan Slaveykov, Emil-Iulian Sude, and the unnamed women prisoners of the Ravensbrück Concentration Camp.
A special thanks to our featured artist of this issue, Mary Ashwood, for her searching images that draw the line close between body and text.
We’d also like to thank the editorial team that made this issue happen: Gleisson Alves Santos, Jake Goldwasser, Mars Grabar-Sage, Emily Graham, AJ Javaheri, Ani Jilavyan, Erel Michaelis, Ilie Shirin, Miharu Yano.
Jack Rockwell and Nicky Nenkov