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Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Event recap: Nelly Arcan in translation (Anvil Press)

On Wednesday, May 20, we were pleased to host Anvil Press' Nelly Arcan in translation event, with translators Jacob Homel and Melissa Bull!

The featured texts were Breakneck, Jacob Homel's translation of the novel À ciel overt, and Burqa of Skin, Melissa Bull's translation of the essay collection Burqa de chair.

The evening's special guest was well-known journalist, host and writer Claudia Larochelle. She spoke about her friendship with Nelly Arcan, about everything Arcan taught her about writing, psychoanalysis, femininity, and life's paradoxes. She reminded us that Arcan's fiercely feminist writing is as deeply relevant today as it was when she wrote it. Claudia is currently working on a book about Arcan's life, which she hopes (as do we) will be translated into English sometime soon.

Jacob took to the stage to read us an excerpt from Breakneck—the only book Arcan wrote in the third person, in which two women, Julie and Rose, are submissively in love with the same man, the self-involved photographer Charles. The excerpt introduced us to the three main characters, each lost in her or his own way. The gym in springtime. The sense of disappearing into the city's multiplying potholes. The unbearable state of the female body. A confrontation that coincides with a car crash. Heady stuff.

Melissa then read to us from Burqa of Skin, including the mesmerizing description of a dream of Arcan's: a vision of women in blue burqas on motorcycles racing endlessly through Nebraska, or a similar landscape, driving towards the destruction of all men... We also heard a heavy passage from the essay "The Negligee", in which Arcan reflects on her cam girl work, prepares for her own death, and imagines what her mother will do with all the money she will leave her.

Thank you to everyone who came out! We have copies of both Breakneck and Burqa of Skin in store in case you missed buying them at the event!


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