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John Updike

by Auke Leistra on June 16th, 2010

Translator Auke Leistra was at the festival on Sunday evening for the John Updike book presentation.

Early in the evening I spoke to a young American poet who told me he had once applied for a job as a copywriter at a publishing house: a position in which you fill your days writing the back cover of book jackets. We all know those texts, written along established lines. On the back cover of the Dutch translation of the short story collection My Father’s Tears by John Updike, there’s one of those texts written by Joost Zwagerman. Four lines praising Updike’s talents. This is good, this as it should be - but on Sunday evening Joost Zwagerman showed us the difference between the cliché and a more heartfelt, a more passionate piece of praise. Besides being a poet and a writer, Zwagerman is also a gripping speaker, and as such he delivered an electrifying speech on his love for John Updike. It was a pleasure a) being there and basking in his love for Updike, b) getting my first copy of the translation from him, and c) getting the chance to read a fragment from one of those brilliant stories. To me, poor lonesome translator, it was a blissful Sunday evening, if ever there was one!

From → Auke Leistra

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