Katherine Silver

Katherine Silver is an award-winning literary translator and the co-director of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre (BILTC). Her most recent translations include works by Daniel Sada, César Aira, Horacio Castellanos Moya, Ernesto Mallo, and Carla Guelfenbein. She has also translated works by José Emilio Pacheco, Elena Poniatowska, Jorge Franco, Martín Adán, and Pedro Lemebel, among others.

Literature Class

Nonfiction by Julio Cortázar

Translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver

“I want you to know that I’m not a critic or theorist”—so begins the first of eight classes that the great Argentine writer Julio Cortázar delivered at UC Berkeley in 1980. These classes are as much reflections on Cortázar’s own writing—”in my work I look for solutions as problems arise”—as musings about literature. He covers such topics as “the writer’s path” (“while my aesthetic world view made me admire writers like Borges, I was able to open my eyes to the language of street slang, lunfardo”) and the fantastic (“unbeknownst to me, the fantastic had become as acceptable, as possible and real, as the fact of eating soup at eight o’clock in the evening”), Literature Class provides the amazingly warm and personal experience of sitting in a room with this fantastically inventive author.…
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Dinner

Fiction by César Aira

Translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver

One Saturday night a bankrupt bachelor in his sixties and his mother dine with a wealthy friend. They discuss their endlessly connected neighbors. They talk about a mysterious pit that opened up one day, and the old bricklayer who sometimes walked to the cemetery to cheer himself up. Anxious to show off his valuable antiques, the host shows his guests old windup toys and takes them to admire an enormous doll.…
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The Dream of My Return

High-octane paranoia deranges a writer and fuels a dangerous plan to return home at the tail end of El Salvador’s long civil war. Is the plan a dream or a nightmare? Is he courageous, foolhardy, or just plain dumb? Is the bubbling brew of horrors and threats actual or imagined? After he seeks relief for liver pain through hypnosis (while drinking more than ever, despite the treatments), his few impulse-control mechanisms rapidly dissolve, and reality only rarely intrudes on his cogitations.…
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Conversations

Fiction by César Aira

Translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver

Daily conversations in outdoor cafés with cultured friends can help make reality a little more real. Unfortunately, however, during one such conversation, one man spots a gold Rolex watch on a TV soap opera’s goatherd. This seemingly small absurdity sets off alarms: strange sensations of deception, distress, and incipient madness. The two men’s uneasiness soon becomes a nightmare as the TV adventure advances with a real-life plot — involving a mutant strain of killer algae — to take over the world!…
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The Mongolian Conspiracy

Fiction by Rafael Bernal

Translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver

With a contribution by Francisco Goldman

Only a couple of days before the state visit of the President of the United States, Filiberto García — an impeccably groomed “gun for hire,” ex–Mexican revolutionary, and classic antihero — is recruited by the Mexican police to discover how much truth there might be to KGB and CIA reports of a Chinese-Mongolian plot to assassinate the Mexican and American presidents during the unveiling of a statue in Mexico City.…
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Professor Borges

Nonfiction by Jorge Luis Borges

Translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver

Edited by Martín Arias Martín Hadis

Writing for Harper’s Magazine, Edgardo Krebs describes Professor Borges: “A compilation of the twenty-five lectures Borges gave in 1966 at the University of Buenos Aires, where he taught English literature. Starting with the Vikings’ kennings and Beowulf and ending with Stevenson and Oscar Wilde, the book traverses a landscape of ‘precursors,’ cross-cultural borrowings, and genres of expression, all connected by Borges into a vast interpretive web. This is the most surprising and useful of Borges’s works to have appeared posthumously.…
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The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira

Fiction by César Aira

Translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver

Dr. Aira is not a conventional doctor. He has a very special gift for miracles, at least in theory. This has not deterred his archenemy, Dr. Actyn, who is trying to prove that Dr. Aira is a charlatan. When the ever wary Dr. Aira is finally called upon to put his theories into practice and use his healing powers to actually cure a hopelessly sick man, César Aira — the authoritative writer — shows us the truth about miracles in this delightfully awesome book.…
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The Cardboard House

Fiction by Martín Adán

Translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver

Published in 1928 to great acclaim when Martín Adán was just twenty years old, The Cardboard House is sweeping, kaleidoscopic, and passionate. The novel presents a series of flashes―scenes, moods, dreams, weather―as the narrator wanders through Barranco (then an exclusive seaside resort outside Lima). In one stunning passage after another, he moves from reveries of first loves, South Pole explorations, and ocean tides to precise and unashamed notations of class and race: from a native woman “with her hard, shiny, damp head of hair―a mud carving”―to a gringo imbibing “synthetic milk, canned meat, hard liquor.…
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Tyrant Memory

Fiction by Horacio Castellanos Moya

Translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver

The tyrant of Horacio Castellanos Moya’s ambitious new novel is the actual pro-Nazi mystic Maximiliano Hernández Martínez – known as the Warlock – who came to power in El Salvador in 1932. An attempted coup in April, 1944, failed, but a general strike in May finally forced him out of office. Tyrant Memory takes place during the month between the coup and the strike. Its protagonist, Haydée Aragon, is a well-off woman, whose husband is a political prisoner and whose son, Clemente, after prematurely announcing the dictator’s death over national radio during the failed coup, is forced to flee when the very much alive Warlock starts to ruthlessly hunt down his enemies.…
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The Literary Conference

Fiction by César Aira

Translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver

César is a translator who’s fallen on very hard times due to the global economic downturn; he is also an author, and a mad scientist hell-bent on world domination. On a visit to the beach he intuitively solves an ancient riddle, finds a pirate’s treasure, and becomes a very wealthy man. Even so, César’s bid for world domination comes first and so he attends a literary conference to be near the man whose clone he hopes will lead an army to victory: the world-renowned Mexican author, Carlos Fuentes.…
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The She-Devil in the Mirror

Fiction by Horacio Castellanos Moya

Translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver

Laura Rivera can’t believe what has happened. Her best friend has been killed in cold blood in the living room of her home, in front of her two young daughters! Nobody knows who pulled the trigger, but Laura will not rest easy until she finds out. Her dizzying, delirious, hilarious, and blood-curdling one-sided dialogue carries the reader on a rough and tumble ride through the social, political, economic, and sexual chaos of post-civil war San Salvador.…
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Senselessness

Fiction by Horacio Castellanos Moya

Translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver

A boozing, sex-obsessed writer finds himself employed by the Catholic Church (an institution he loathes) to proofread a 1,100 page report on the army’s massacre and torture of thousands of indigenous villagers a decade earlier, including testimonies of the survivors. The writer’s job is to tidy it up: he rants “that was what my work was all about, cleaning up and giving a manicure to the Catholic hands that were piously getting ready to squeeze the balls of the military tiger.…
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