Greetings, literarians. You’ve heard of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. You’ve probably also heard of Mario Vargas Llosa. If you really know your stuff, you’ve also read the work of Julio Cortazar, author of the masterpiece HOPSCOTCH. And, if you’re really into Latin American literature, you’ve read Clarice Lispector, Jorge Amado, and the Proust of the Caribbean Jose Lezama Lima. But did you know that ALL of these authors were translated by the same man?
Gregory Rabassa is by any imaginable standard a literary genius, and tomorrow afternoon I’ll have the incredible opportunity of interviewing him on the Upper East Side. We’ve met once before, spoke at great length on a variety of topics, and tomorrow we’ll have part 2 of our conversation. There’s no central theme to the interview, besides the state of translation and literature at large, although we’ll likely talk about Rabassa’s great love — jazz — and his fond recollections of sneaking into bars in the late 1940s to hear Billie Holliday sing, and other dive bars in the village where the beat poets will starting to make a name for themselves.
So the question is this, literarians, what would YOU ask Gregory Rabassa? What would you like to know about the man who translated 100 YEARS OF SOLITUDE, whose version in English Garcia Marquez famously said was better than the Spanish original? Lemme know, and I’ll do my best to faithfully report back any and all answers I’m able to extract from this 90-year-old literary titan.