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Lockdown Summer: Literary Translation Events Online

Around the world, lockdowns and shelter-in-place rules have changed the landscape of literary events.

In response, many events have shifted online. These are taking place on YouTube, Instagram, Zoom, and other platforms. Rachel Brittain came up with a great list of book events you can attend from home. Also, Christina M. Rau rounded up reading series gone virtual.

Here, we focus on world literature and translation.

Why Bother?

Sometimes, after a long day of screens, it’s hard to imagine joining one more Zoom call.

Reading and writing can be pretty solitary activities. One of the great joys of book fairs, readings, and other literary events is meeting the rest of the community. Book events can lead to serendipitous connections: new people, new books, new ideas.

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Naturally, online literary events miss much of this serendipity. There are other problems, too. Connections can disappear. On-screen events can feel distant. And it can be awful to stare at one’s own face on the screen.

But also, in this moment, you can attend book talks by writers in Lagos, Delhi, Glasgow, Dhaka, Cairo, and Mexico City.

The Best Sorts of Online Events

There’s no one-size-fits-all of good online literary events. In my small experience, the worst seem to be trying to replicate in-person events without making any allowance made for online interaction. The best allow several different types of interaction—even types of “small-talk” interaction that have nothing to do with the event.

Below, a few world-lit events you might try.

Events for Readers of All Ages

Mother Tongue Twisters: Translation Thursdays

Mother Tongue Twisters is a new online platform. They intend, they write, “to curate and collate Indian language poetry for young readers.”

One recent event featured readings of love poetry in various “mother tongues.” These included: Hindi, Urdu, Khasi, Kannada, Kashmiri & Bengali.

Each Thursday, the group pro

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