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About the Author
Silvina Ocampo was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1903. A central figure of Argentine literary circles, Ocampo's accolades include Argentina's National Poetry Prize and a Guggenheim fellowship. She was an early contributor to Argentina's Sur magazine, where she worked closely with its founder, her sister; Adolfo Bioy Casares, her husband; and Jorge Luis Borges. In 1937, Sur published Ocampo's first book, Viaje olvidado. She went on to publish thirteen volumes of fiction and poetry during a long and much-lauded career. Ocampo died in Buenos Aires in 1993. La promesa, her only novel, was posthumously published in 2011.
Suzanne Jill Levine is the General Editor of Penguin's paperback classics of Jorge Luis Borges' poetry and essays (2010) and a noted translator, since 1971, of Latin American prose and poetry by distinguished writers such as Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Julio Cortázar, Carlos Fuentes, Manuel Puig, Severo Sarduy, and Adolfo Bioy Casares. She has published over 40 booklength translations not to mention hundreds of poetry and prose translations in anthologies and journals such as the New Yorker (including one of Ocampo's stories in their recent flash fiction issue).
Levine has received many honors, among them PEN awards, several NEA and NEH grants, Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, and more recently the PEN USA Translation prize for José Donoso's posthumous novel The Lizard's Tale.
Founder of Translation Studies at UCSB, she has mentored students throughout her academic career (including Jessica Powell and Katie Lateef Jan). Levine is author of several books including the poetry chapbook Reckoning (2012); The Subversive Scribe: Translating Latin American Fiction (1991; 2009); Manuel Puig and the Spiderwoman: His Life and Fictions (FSG, 2000, 2002). Her most recent translation is Guadalupe Nettel's Bezoar and Other Unsettling Stories (2020) for Seven Stories Press.
Jessica Powell has published dozens of translations of literary works by a wide variety of Latin American writers. She was the recipient of a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship in support of her translation of Antonio Benítez Rojo's novel, Woman in Battle Dress(City Lights, 2015), which was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Translation. Her translation of Wicked Weeds by Pedro Cabiya (Mandel Vilar Press, 2016), was named a finalist for the 2017 Best Translated Book Award and made the longlist for the 2017 National Translation Award. Her translation of Pablo Neruda's book-length poem, venture of the infinite man, was published by City Lights Books in October 2017. Her most recent translation, of Edna Iturralde's award-winning book, Green Was My Forest, was published by Mandel Vilar Press in September, 2018.
" . . . a bold phantasmagoria, marked by Ocampo's insight that in extremis, delirium can be the highest form of truth."--Laura Kolbe, New York Review of Books
"Diamonds, Dionysus, and Drowning: . . . every sentence glints with precision . . . what you're after are the sentences, which have the feel of epigrams . . . I think I took a photo of nearly every other page so as not to forget them."--Rhian Sasseen, The Paris Review
"Suzanne Jill Levine, working with Jessica Powell on The Promise and Katie Lateef-Jan on Forgotten Journey, has produced a translation that beautifully captures the elegance and strangeness of Ocampo's style. . . . The results are intoxicating."--Miranda France, The Times Literary Supplement
"These are the moments that elevate The Promise into a higher echelon of letters; simultaneously, death proves evasive and nostalgia serves as a survival tactic. All the while readers get to witness the wondrous tightrope act Ocampo performs, traipsing back and forth between past and present."--John Gibbs, Zyzzyva
"Legend Silvina Ocampo worked on perfecting this novel [The Promise] over the course of 25 years, right up until her death in 1993, and it's out this fall in its first ever English translation. It's being published alongside Forgotten Journey a collection of short stories by Ocampo translated by Suzanne Jill Levine and Katie Lateef-Jan. In The Promise, a woman reminisces about her life, and lets her imagination get away with her, after falling overboard into the sea--a reflection of Ocampo's own struggles with dementia and her interest in memory and identity. It's said to be Ocampo 'at her most feminist, idiosyncratic and subversive' and I just can't wait to get my hands on it and Forgotten Journey."--Pierce Alquist, Book Riot
"A woman examines her life piecemeal, putting it together like a puzzle missing half its pieces--but the resulting image is all the more mesmerizing because of it. A deft and subtle novel that holds together as airily as a spider's web."--Brian Evenson, author of Song for the Unraveling of the World: Stories
"It's an extraordinary book, for which only Borges's description of her writing will do--clairvoyant."--Brian Dillon, 4Columns
"Her obliquely-focused narrative lens requires readers to experience the off-kilter sensation of a slant perspective, lending a cinematic quality to her gothic themes."--Dorothy Potter Snyder, "Reading in Translation"
"Silvina Ocampo's fiction is wondrous, heart-piercing, and fiercely strange. Her fabulism is as charming as Borges's. Her restless sense of invention foregrounds the brilliant feminist work of writers like Clarice Lispector and Samanta Schweblin. It's thrilling to have work of this magnitude finally translated into English, head spinning and thrilling."--Alyson Hagy, author of Scribe
"Forgotten Journey and The Promise by late Argentine writer Silvina Ocampo are cornucopias, outpourings of words with the same concision we ascribe to nature. Descriptions pour forth not like water but sap, ensuring the reader will pause and savor, not just in a portrait but every paragraph, each word."--Ana Castillo, Women's Review of Books
"A masterpiece from an extraordinary author who deserves to be read over and over. A gem."--Marjorie Agosin, author of I Lived On Butterfly Hill
"Ocampo inhabits and brings to life a hyper-real, surreal, and resolutely feminine world ruled by unapologetic beauty and pervading sadness."--Andrei Codrescu, author of No Time Like Now: New Poems
"Silvina Ocampo was once called the 'the best kept secret of Argentine letters, ' and was, through her own work and that of those she championed, a key figure of modernism. Known primarily in the English-speaking world as a friend of Borges and wife to his collaborator Bioy Casares, the translation of more of her work into English is a reason to celebrate her for her own right, as one of the most singular writers of the 20th century."--Stephen Sparks, Point Reyes Books, CA
"Only a masterful storyteller could pull off what Silvina Ocampo does in The Promise; a woman lost at sea drowns in her memories, while the water--never threatening--cradles her with echoes of the past. A novel that is not a novel; a hypnosis, really."--Gabriela Alemán, author of Poso Wells
"There is literature that takes the known world (a dinner party or a walk with a dog, first love or a visit to friends) and shows it in a way we've never seen before; there is literature that takes us to a place we've never been (early twentieth-century Buenos Aires or adrift in the middle of the ocean) and makes it somehow familiar. The marvel of Silvina Ocampo's fiction is that it does both things simultaneously, its deepest context the confluence of the things of this world . . . "--Kathryn Davis, author of The Silk Road
Praise for Thus Were Their Faces: Selected Stories by Silvina Ocampo:
"Dark, masterly tales. . . a (very good) introduction. . . . Ocampo's technique is beyond all reproach; an author has to keep masterly control when letting events veer off beyond the quotidian (the phrase 'magic realism' seems inadequate when applied to her)." --Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian
"These stories are feverish, cruel, and wry, set among the surrealisms of puberty, disability, and precarity."--Joshua Cohen, Harper's
Praise for Silvina Ocampo:
"Ocampo wrote with fascinated horror of Argentinean petty bourgeois society, whose banality and kitsch settings she used in a masterly way to depict strange, surreal atmospheres sometimes verging on the supernatural." --The Independent
Praise for Suzanne Jill Levine's The Subversive Scribe:
"What [Levine] has to say about the linguistic, personal, scholarly, and imaginative elements that the translator must bring to that process is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of translation in particular and creativity in general.... An important and original book."--Edith Grossman, translator of Love in the Time of Cholera
Praise for venture of the infinite man by Pablo Neruda, translated by Jessica Powell:
"Jessica Powell is the 'distant light that illuminates the fruit' of venture of the infinite man, the twenty-two year old Pablo Neruda's untranslated third book. One part quest and one part inner map, in Powell's hands the delicious and strange language of the original dances effortlessly in English. Readers can now experience the moment Neruda evolved from being only a brilliant singer of love poems into a maker of rich, stunning worlds. This book is a treasure."--Tomás Q. Morín, author of Patient Zero
"This book has the fascination of being Neruda becoming Neruda. It's the brilliant young poet who made himself famous at nineteen and twenty with Twenty Love Poems, beginning to absorb the lessons of the new surrealism and making his way to the world poet he would become in Residence on Earth. So it is a leap into the imagination of one of the crucial poets of the twentieth century as he is feeling his way."--Robert Hass