Gregor Samsa awoke from a night of clubbing former actress Lindsay Lohan. May 24, 2012 1:36 PM   Subscribe

MeFi's Own™ nasreddin has won the Rossica Young Translators Award for his daring and inventive rendering of a passage from the new Viktor Pelevin novel. An excerpt of his entry starts on page 34 of this PDF.
posted by Nomyte to MetaFilter-Related at 1:36 PM (74 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

Congrats nasreddin!!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:45 PM on May 24, 2012

наши поздравления, Гриша!

I just tried to read Memoir of a Russian Punk in the original (after tracking it down for some time because the Russian title is nothing close to that) and, nope, not a fucking chance.
posted by griphus at 1:48 PM on May 24, 2012

Congrats nasreddin!

S.N.U.F.F. is a science fiction novel by Russian writer Viktor Pelevin published in 2011. The plot's setting is a post-apocalyptic world where the majority of people live either in a poor, technologically backwards Urkaine with about 300 million Slavic speaking inhabitants with a capital city "Slava" or in a technologically advanced English-speaking artificial flying city "Big Byz" (or "Byzantium") which is locked in the sky above Urkaine and has a population of about 30 million.

Post apocalyptic world? Flying cities? This sounds like a promising SF novel!
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:49 PM on May 24, 2012

Congratulations, nasreddin!

I'm not at all surprised you won. Great ability is evident in everything of yours I've read.
posted by jamjam at 1:50 PM on May 24, 2012

Well done, mate!
posted by daniel_charms at 1:51 PM on May 24, 2012

There was an amazing article on contemporary Russian fiction in the Awl a while ago, if anyone wants a quick rundown on the matter at hand. It also has one of the most amazing quotes about Russian fiction I've ever read:
“But you see, when you start writing out the details of everyday Russian life, the absurdity just overwhelms you. At some point, you give up. Your characters start flying around, they sprout fangs and tails. Because that’s the only way to stay true to the material. Russian reality is too phantasmagoric to fit into realist logic.”
posted by griphus at 1:52 PM on May 24, 2012 [9 favorites]

"We do love MeFi's own asavage nasreddin ever so much... but unless this actually has something to do with Mefi, it doesn't really belong here, and I'm closing it up. You can let us know if there is a Metafilter angle that I'm missing..."
posted by ryanrs at 1:52 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

And that's a great translation if I've ever seen one.
posted by daniel_charms at 1:52 PM on May 24, 2012

Also, everyone ought to take a look at some more of nasreddin's translation-prowess in this FPP.
posted by griphus at 2:12 PM on May 24, 2012

"We do love MeFi's own asavage nasreddin ever so much... but unless this actually has something to do with Mefi, it doesn't really belong here, and I'm closing it up. You can let us know if there is a Metafilter angle that I'm missing..."

This sprang (?!) into my mind too- I wasn't really sure why the other one got shut down so quickly. Metafilterians getting public recognition for their acheivements-that's a good thing, right?
posted by bquarters at 2:16 PM on May 24, 2012

posted by Iridic at 2:21 PM on May 24, 2012

Eh, asavage doing a commencement speech is more a product of him being a famous guy; someone from our community winning an award for some writing work has a slightly more intimate heft and is more in line with the kind of "oh, neat thing involving one of our won" things we've seen in Metatalk in the past. Adam's kind of got this whole TV-famous thing going on where "thing asavage did" reports in Metatalk would get to being sort of thick on the ground in a way that's not so much an issue for most folks here.

To look at the converse, if Adam's commencement speech was pretty great it'd probably have been fine as an actual post to the blue in a way that this wouldn't so much.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:29 PM on May 24, 2012 [6 favorites]

kudos, dude.
posted by special-k at 2:33 PM on May 24, 2012

Congratulations! It's always great to get confirmation that Metafilter is full of really smart, cool people.
posted by xingcat at 2:42 PM on May 24, 2012

How awesome! Congratulations nasreddin!
posted by zarq at 2:46 PM on May 24, 2012

Wow! Unanimous too. Well done.
posted by bonehead at 2:57 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wow, Congratulations!
posted by misha at 3:03 PM on May 24, 2012

Way to go, nasreddin!
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:12 PM on May 24, 2012

Congrats, nasreddin!
posted by Navelgazer at 3:17 PM on May 24, 2012

Congratulations Nasreddin. It saddens me how few works, proportionally speaking, get translated into english in lieu of more shitty english novels being published. I bet us mono-linguists miss out on some amazing stuff.
posted by smoke at 3:20 PM on May 24, 2012

Congrats, nasreddin. The first in a long series, perhaps? :)
posted by nonmerci at 3:34 PM on May 24, 2012

Eh, asavage doing a commencement speech is more a product of him being a famous guy

Oh, thanks for answering that. I didn't know asavage was famous! Cool. Congratulations then to both, for different accomplishments in different ways!

(I wonder if someday I can get famous enough so that people are just like "oh there's bquarters being famous for being famous again!". Can you get famous from reading old magazines and putting off doing dishes? If you're not Tracey Emin?!)
posted by bquarters at 3:41 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by BibiRose at 3:57 PM on May 24, 2012

posted by trip and a half at 4:07 PM on May 24, 2012

Mazel tov.
posted by jonmc at 4:15 PM on May 24, 2012

posted by gingerbeer at 4:28 PM on May 24, 2012

posted by darth_tedious at 4:36 PM on May 24, 2012

I've not read that one of Pelevin's, however his other stuff is great - I'm particularly a fan of Omon Ra. He's probably more slipstream/surrealist fantasy/magical realism than traditional SciFi in most of his works.
posted by Artw at 4:53 PM on May 24, 2012

Congrats to nasreddin!
posted by kenko at 4:53 PM on May 24, 2012

I've said it before and I'll say it again, you try-hard MeFites need to knock it off so that the rest of us slackers don't look so bad.

Congrats, nasreddin!
posted by Rock Steady at 5:09 PM on May 24, 2012

Well done, nasreddin!
posted by batmonkey at 5:43 PM on May 24, 2012

Congratulations, nasreddin! It could not happen to a nicer person!
posted by winna at 5:45 PM on May 24, 2012

posted by gomichild at 5:45 PM on May 24, 2012

Congratulations, nasreddin (on perfecting a singular talent)!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 6:00 PM on May 24, 2012

Hey man, we've quarreled in the past, but that's the fucking past. Congratulations. I'm proud of you.
posted by joe lisboa at 7:18 PM on May 24, 2012

Поздравления с наградой!
posted by shoesfullofdust at 7:23 PM on May 24, 2012

"It saddens me how few works, proportionally speaking, get translated into english in lieu of more shitty english novels being published. I bet us mono-linguists miss out on some amazing stuff."

I agree with you, but there is more stuff out there than a lot of people realize (not necessarily you; you're probably more aware than I am).

For whatever reason, I'm not attuned to translated-to-English SF-F for some reason (I probably ought to be, as American SF has almost disappeared) and so don't know much about what's available in the genre. I did read all of Lukyanenko's Night Watch books, though, and that was very interesting because the urban fantasy world-building was very fresh and fascinating to me while Lukyanenko's sensibilities told me a lot of revealing things (I assume) about contemporary Russian opinion as well as that Lukyanenko himself, or Russian psychiatry, is about fifty years out-of-date (Lukyanenko was a psychiatrist).

On the other hand, for many years, I've been interested in outside-US-anglophone and translated-to-English mysteries and related genre novels. Probably inspired initially by Janwillem van de Wetering's Grijpstra and de Gier novels. Though I think those were written in English, I read my dad's copy of Outsider in Amsterdam in high school and immediately fell in love and it was sort of a revelation to me of a different approach and style of detective novel.

Soho Crime has quite a few really great novels available translated to English. One that comes to mind that I recommend highly is Akimitsu Takagi's 1948 novel, Tattoo Murder Case.

I'd heard about Boris Akunin's historical mystery series a number of years ago when they had just become bestsellers in Russia and the first had just been translated to English and published. They're pretty good; though I only read the first two (or three?) and then stopped.

Really, that it's sort of an anglophone world and the size of the American market is both a curse and blessing for we anglophones. Especially with regard to Americans, it's a curse in that our culture is so parochial and we're collectively so ignorant of what's going on elsewhere. It's a blessing, though, in that the small minority of us who are interested in reading foreign works in translation are a big enough market to make it desirable and profitable and that there's so much infrastructure available for translating to English. So if you're interested and you go looking for stuff, you'll find a lot of it. And the cool part is that while you can't always count on the quality of the translation (unless, presumably, nasreddin is involved!) it's a lot more likely that a work that's been translated and published in English is better-than-average, and often much better than average.

Congratulations nasreddin!
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:44 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

fucking badass. super impressed, nasreddin. nine cheers, sir.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:14 PM on May 24, 2012

Congrats nasreddin! Pelevin was a favorite of mine back in high school, esp. The Life of Insects. This really makes me want to check him out again.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:37 PM on May 24, 2012

Yay nasreddin!

Really want to read the whole thing now. Seems churlish I know. I can wait :)
posted by motty at 8:45 PM on May 24, 2012

Brava, nasreddin! Well done.
posted by msali at 8:59 PM on May 24, 2012

Very well deserved. Go you!
posted by Wolof at 9:43 PM on May 24, 2012

posted by Sticherbeast at 10:02 PM on May 24, 2012

Wow! Congrats!
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:14 PM on May 24, 2012

posted by The Whelk at 10:44 PM on May 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Congratulations, nasreddin!
posted by DarlingBri at 11:13 PM on May 24, 2012

Great ability is evident in everything of yours I've read.

Yeah, this. Grats.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:36 AM on May 25, 2012

Well done nasreddin, that's pretty cool.
posted by Elmore at 4:48 AM on May 25, 2012

posted by jquinby at 8:09 AM on May 25, 2012

Excellent work, nasreddin!
posted by clockzero at 8:16 AM on May 25, 2012

Very nice! Congratulations!
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 9:22 AM on May 25, 2012

posted by bakerina at 9:57 AM on May 25, 2012

Woohoo! Congrats nasreddin!
posted by bru at 10:54 AM on May 25, 2012

Félicitations !
posted by fraula at 11:06 AM on May 25, 2012

Joy and happiness to you, nasreddin, for hard work recognized.

And thank you, from me, personally, because a friend gave me Pelevin's 4 some years ago as a birthday gift. You know those books that sit awaiting attention somehow? Now I have, courtesy of your occasion, the impetus to read it. (Clumsy syntax, sorry!) Congratulations again--
posted by emhutchinson at 12:02 PM on May 25, 2012

Thanks for the congratulations, all!

But I have to agree this isn't terribly Metafilter-related. Now if it turned out Pelevin was a Mefite, that'd be a different story.... (I wouldn't be surprised.)
posted by nasreddin at 12:41 PM on May 25, 2012

The novel itself is a bit weird. I haven't read the whole thing yet, but it's a very Pelevinian take on the Arab Spring/Libyan intervention issue. (He writes about a book a year, and they're always closely tied to current events). Basically he's very cynical about the motives and interests behind democratization rhetoric and the media culture that shapes the call to intervene. I like this passage in particular:
In reality every war is prepared by an enormous number of people, but their efforts are invisible to the bystander. Wars generally begin when the Orkish authorities crush yet another revolutionary protest with excessive force (they don’t know how to do it in any other way). And it so happens that these protests take place when it comes time to shoot another batch of snuff films. About once a year. Sometimes a little less often. Many people don’t understand how Orkish rebellions can start at just the right time. I myself, of course, don’t keep track of these things—but the mechanics are clear to me. Microwave ovens still cause fanatical religious terror in Orkish villages. They don’t understand how it’s possible that there’s no fire, no one is touching the hamburger, and yet it keeps getting warmer and warmer. Actually, it’s fairly simple: you just need to create an electromagnetic field in which the particles of the hamburger begin to vibrate furiously. Orkish revolutions are prepared just like hamburgers, except for the fact that the particles of shit in Orkish crania are brought into motion not by an electromagnetic field, but by an informational one. It’s not even necessary to send them emissaries. It’s enough for some global metaphor—and all our metaphors are global—to hint to a proud Orkish village that if it suddenly develops a love of liberty, people will come to its aid. Then the love of liberty is guaranteed to develop in this village, if nothing else, purely in the expectation of a windfall, because the central authorities will keep paying the village elder more and more every day so that it does not develop fully for as long as possible. But the indomitable urge to happiness and liberty can no longer be denied. Meanwhile, we don’t have to spend a single manitou, even though we could print as many of them as we want. We just have to watch the process evolve. And when it evolves to the right degree, we start bombing. Not the village, of course, but whoever we need to film. I see nothing particularly objectionable in this. Our informational channels do not lie. The Orks really are ruled by a fine bunch of assholes who are always deserving of an airstrike, and if their regime is not actually pure evil it is only because it has been heavily diluted by degenerative senility. And we have nobody to apologize to. Condemn us or not—we’re still the best this world has to offer. And it is not only we ourselves who believe this, but the Orks as well.
As you can see, he can sometimes sound like a regime apologist, but I think he's cynical enough all around that it doesn't make him totally craven.
posted by nasreddin at 12:51 PM on May 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

(The passage may sound horribly racist and offensive, but keep in mind that when he's talking about Orks he really has the Russians in mind as well).
posted by nasreddin at 12:55 PM on May 25, 2012

Was the original word for hamburger actually "гамбургер" or was that an interpretation of фрикаделька or something? I know from what my friend told me of Generation P, Pelevin is fond (or was fond in that book, at least) of symbols of American consumerism.
posted by griphus at 1:01 PM on May 25, 2012

(Hell, if you can just paste in the original passage, that would be awesome.)
posted by griphus at 1:06 PM on May 25, 2012

Yep, it's гамбургер. The novel is written from the point of view of a future American/Westerner.
posted by nasreddin at 1:06 PM on May 25, 2012

Here it is:
На самом деле над каждой войной работает огромное число людей, но их усилия не видны постороннему взгляду. Войны обычно начинаются, когда оркские власти слишком жестоко (а иначе они не умеют) давят очередной революционный протест. А очередной революционный протест случается, так уж выходит, когда пора снимать новую порцию снафов. Примерно раз в год. Иногда чуть реже. Многие не понимают, каким образом оркские бунты начинаются точно в нужное время. Я и сам, конечно, за этим не слежу - но механика мне ясна. В оркских деревнях до сих пор приходят в религиозный ужас при виде СВЧ-печек. Им непонятно, как это так - огня нет, гамбургер никто не трогает, а он становится все горячее и горячее. Делается это просто – надо создать электромагнитное поле, в котором частицы гамбургера придут в бурное движение. Оркские революции готовят точно так же, как гамбургеры, за исключением того, что частицы говна в оркских черепах приводятся в движение не электромагнитным полем, а информационным. Даже не надо посылать к ним эмиссаров. Довольно, чтобы какая-нибудь глобальная метафора -а у нас все метафоры глобальные - намекнула гордой оркской деревне, что, если в ней проснется свободолюбие, люди придут на помощь. Тогда свободолюбие гарантировано проснется в этой деревне просто в видах наживы - потому что центральные власти будут с каждым днем все больше платить деревенскому старосте, чтобы оно как можно дольше не пробуждалось в полном объеме, но неукротимое восхождение к свободе и счастью будет уже не остановить. Причем мы не потратим на это ни единого маниту - хотя могли бы напечатать для них сколько угодно. Мы просто будем с интересом следить за процессом. А когда он разовьется до нужного градуса, начнем бомбить. Не деревню, понятно, а кого нам надо для съемки. Я не вижу в этом особо предосудительного. Наши информационные каналы не врут. Орками действительно правит редкая сволочь, которая заслуживает бомбежки в любой момент, и если их режим не является злом в чистом виде, то исключительно по той причине, что сильно разбавлен дегенеративным маразмом. Да и оправдываться нам не перед кем. Суди нас или нет - но мы, к сожалению, то лучшее, что есть в этом мире. И так считаем не только мы, но и сами орки.
posted by nasreddin at 1:07 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Excellent work! Congratulations.
posted by OmieWise at 1:07 PM on May 25, 2012

Is "СВЧ-печь" a common term for microwave or is that part of the SF-ness? I grew up in the states and it was always referred to as a "микроуайв." I can't for the life of me tell considering how many quotidian Russian words (e.g. "полиэтиленовый мешок") are also scientific descriptions.
posted by griphus at 1:17 PM on May 25, 2012

Yes: СВЧ is сверхвысокочастотный ("super high frequency"). It's of the same vintage as ЭВМ (электронная вычислительная машина) for "computer."
posted by Nomyte at 1:21 PM on May 25, 2012

Микроуайв is a Ringlishism (which doesn't make it bad!). Микроволновка is generally the term used in a casual setting, while СВЧ (super-high-frequency) is the kinda-technical term which you'll find in store bulletins and so on.
posted by nasreddin at 1:21 PM on May 25, 2012

Microwaves do not work like that /pedant

Anyhow, it strikes me as a quite Russian world view - no good can come of anything ever.
posted by Artw at 1:29 PM on May 25, 2012

It should be noted, humorously, that the Orcs inhabit "Urkaine." So, keeping the Arab Spring in mind, Russian-reading audiences probably find the Russia/Ukraine subtext more salient. Ukraine has certainly had its share of political ferment within the last 15 years, and its relationship with Russia and Russians is anything but equitable (or simple).

This thing seems to form a diptych with Sorokov's Day of the Oprichnik. I suspect this is what science fiction looks like under a directionless plutocracy.

Someone upthread mentioned Lukyanenko's *watch books. His attitudes are not exactly secret, and the books reflect them well. Think about what you read.

For those who read Russian, here's some coverage of a new release that's been making waves.
posted by Nomyte at 4:10 PM on May 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

congratulations, nasreddin!
posted by jammy at 4:16 PM on May 25, 2012

Nasreddin, I've missed your posts since you started grad school (not surprisingly, things seem to have dropped off). What are you up to in your studies?
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 4:56 PM on May 25, 2012

"Microwaves do not work like that /pedant"

That's close enough, given that the precise interaction isn't fully known or understood. The operative model is that water molecules, which are polarized, are caused to rotate about their axes by the locally changing EM field, and which motion then basically is heat. However, it's not only water molecules which are affected in this way by the EM (meaning that you can't categorically claim that microwaves heat only water), they're just extra-sensitive to this manipulation. Anyway, a hamburger patty contains a large proportion of water, just as most food does, and so it really isn't inaccurate to say that the EM generated by the microwave oven heats the hamburger. I'd say the statement wasn't precise, but it was accurate. (What it certainly doesn't do, though, is heat it "inside out", as some folklore asserts, although I suppose it's usually much less intensely outside-in relative to IR/heated air.)
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:57 PM on May 25, 2012

I am really liking the expansion of the limits of the "english language internet" and the varied linguistic abilities of the mefites, more global and greater perspective.

I think this achievement deserves its MeTa post.

Thank you for being part of Metafilter, nasreddin.
posted by infini at 1:12 AM on May 26, 2012

a quite Russian world view
posted by infini at 1:15 AM on May 26, 2012

Catching up late to this but heartiest congratulations!
posted by jokeefe at 12:02 PM on May 27, 2012

« Older Habeas factus   |   Strip mobile tags Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments