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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 13, 2005

Sept. 26 Reading Part Of UI Visit By Translator of '100 Years Of Solitude'

Gregory Rabassa, the revered translator of Garcia Marquez whose English version of "100 Years of Solitude" put contemporary Latin American fiction on the literary map for English-language readers, will read from his memoir, "If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents," at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 26, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

The free reading, hosted by Julie Englander, will be broadcast on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910. Listen on the Internet at

Rabassa comes to the UI as an Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor in the International Writing Program (IWP) Sept. 26-30. His visit is part of "Lost and Found in Translation," a series of readings and lectures by prominent translators, presented this fall by the IWP. A full schedule of the "Lost and Fond" events is included on the IWP website at,

During his visit to the UI campus, Rabassa will meet with students in Latin American Studies, Spanish and Portuguese, and the UI Translation Workshop

Gabriel Garcia Marquez once called Rabassa "the best Latin American writer in the English language," and he has been credited with giving many Latin American writers the voices through which English-language readers know them.

He has translated more than 40 books from Spanish and Portuguese, winning the National Book Award and the John Steinbeck Award. In 2001, the PEN American Center honored him with the Gregory Kolovakos Award, a career achievement award, for his contributions to the appreciation of Hispanic literature.

Of Rabassa's memoir, Michael Henry Heim wrote in the Los Angeles Times, "One might even say that the volume, slim as it is, consists of several books. It is, as I have implied, an apologia -- a defense, not an apology -- for literary translation; it is a memoir, one boy's story, so to speak, of how he came to ply the craft; it is a rumination on America's literary culture; and it is an annotated reading list of Spanish and Portuguese literature in the form of short essays on each work he has translated."

The Washington Post's Michael Dirda wrote, "His style is loose and conversational, utterly without airs. He prefers digression to exposition, makes terrible puns and drops in repeated references to old jazz songs and even older movie stars. Rabassa also writes with striking honesty about his disdain for the New York publishing industry and his dislike for academic literary criticism. Such humanity and a sometimes contentious forthrightness are unexpected from an eminent, if retired, Columbia professor. . . .(M)uch of it is excellent literary entertainment. Read these pages while sipping a Brazilian caipirinha, and you'll spend a fine and mellow evening."

A native of Vinton, Beam willed her farm to the UI in 1977. Her only university connection was a relative who graduated from the College of Medicine. Proceeds from the sale of the farm were used to establish the visiting professorships program in her name. Since 1977, hundreds of eminent scholars and scientists have visited the UI campus to give public lectures and to meet with students and faculty.

The IWP introduces talented writers to American life; enables them to take part in American university life; and provides them with time, in a setting congenial to their efforts, for the production of literary work. Since 1967, more a thousand writers from more than 120 countries have attended the IWP, including poets, fiction writers, dramatists, screenwriters and non-fiction writers.

The IWP, which functions as a United Nations of writers, stresses the common interests of writers everywhere, in an atmosphere that puts political differences into perspective. For writers who live under repressive regimes, the IWP has provided an unprecedented opportunity to write, speak and interact freely.

The IWP is staffed and housed by the UI. IWP writers are financed through bilateral agreements with numerous countries; by grants given by cultural institutions and governments abroad; and by private funds that are donated by a variety of American corporations, foundations and individuals. The activities of the IWP are assisted financially by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State under the authority of the Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961, as amended.

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