Backchat: Southerly

Jorge Consiglio, Southerly, trans. Cherilyn Elston

Jorge Consiglio, Southerly. Translated by Cherilyn Elston.
Charco Press. £9.99.
Buy direct from the publisher.

Splice publishes new content on Mondays and Wednesdays, but throughout the week we bulk it out with bonus material on Facebook and Twitter. On Fridays, “Backchat” looks at the week that was and gathers up all the bonus material in one place.

This week, Splice featured Anna MacDonald’s review of Jorge Consiglio’s Southerly and then followed up the review by putting some questions to Consiglio’s translator, Cherilyn Elston.

The book was published last month, and since then it has received enthusiastic reviews from Leo Boix in the Morning Star and Sam Carter at Full Stop. As background reading for Southerly, you might want to take a look at Jorge Luis Borges’ short story ‘The South’ (‘El sur’): the title story of Consiglio’s book explicitly references and toys with Borges’ work, and both Anna and Cherilyn discuss the shadow it casts on Southerly.

Since Southerly is the first of Consiglio’s books to be translated into English, there’s a dearth of English-language material about Consiglio online. But in his native Argentina, and throughout the Southern Cone, he’s highly regarded as a writer of both prose and poetry. His most recent book is Las cajas (The Boxes) and you can find interesting Spanish-language coverage of it at Editorial Excursions and Télam. The first of those articles features Consiglio discussing the associative structure of the pieces in the book, while in the second he discusses his poetic techniques more generally. Both can be easily (if rudimentarily) translated using a tool like Google Translate.

At Audiovideoteca de Escritores, an initiative run by the cultural programme of Buenos Aires, you can find an interview conducted in Consiglio’s personal library. He picks out his top ten books and names them as follows:

  • Antonio di Benedetto, Zama (see J.M. Coetzee’s review of the recent English translation, and Benjamin Kunkel’s review as well)
  • Antonio di Benedetto, El silenciero (no English translation available)
  • Miguel Briante, Las hamacas voladoras (no English translation available)
  • Roberto Bolaño, Putas asesinas (Killer Whores, a book of short stories, some of which appear in English translations in The Return)
  • Joseph Conrad, Amy Foster and Other Stories of the Sea (a Spanish-language translation of stories featured in Conrad’s Typhoon and Other Stories)
  • Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
  • Juan José Saer, Glosa (no English translation available)
  • Juan Carlos Onetti, El pozo (no English translation available) and Los adioses (translated into English as Goodbyes and Stories)
  • Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
  • Cormac McCarthy, The Crossing

It’s fascinating to read over that list and see how each of those books might’ve left an imprint on the stories in Southerly.

As a reminder, you can buy Southerly directly from Charco Press, or, better yet, buy the bundle of five books translated and published by Charco over the last six months. Charco Press is an Edinburgh-based publisher committed to introducing contemporary literature from Latin America to an Anglophone readership. For more on its aims and ambitions, check out a couple of interviews with Charco’s co-founder, Carolina Orloff, at Bookblast and Asymptote.

That’s all for this week! Next week we’ll be looking at Chris Power’s Mothers, forthcoming from Faber & Faber, and we’ll have a bonus interview to go along with David Hebblethwaite’s review of the book on Monday. Follow Splice on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with everything as it unfolds…