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La Bastarda: Translation and the Power(s) of Language

  • Dixon Place 161A Chrystie Street New York, NY, 10002 United States (map)
(photo: PEN World Voices)


Languages rarely exist in isolation, and almost always find themselves in a pecking order of power. In a country like the U.S., Spanish is seen as secondary to English, though it is the official language of over 20 countries and the lingua franca for numerous communities, from indigenous peoples to newly arrived immigrants. And yet, the existence of a dominant language can also be a deterrent to linguistic diversity. This panel explores some of the places where Spanish abuts other languages and how power relationships ebb and flow. How does translation affect these relationships? Can it restore a place of equality between a majority language and a minoritized language? And does it erase difference in the process?

With Alicia Kopf, Judith Santopietro, Trifonia Melibea Obono, Rubén Ríos-Avila. Moderated by Mary Ann Newman.

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La Bastarda
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A teenage orphan’s quest of self-discovery.

"An invaluable contribution to lesbian and gay literary culture.” —Cheryl Clarke, author of Living as a Lesbian

The first novel by an Equatorial Guinean woman to be translated into English, La Bastarda is the story of the orphaned teen Okomo, who lives under the watchful eye of her grandmother and dreams of finding her father. Forbidden from seeking him out, she enlists the help of other village outcasts: her gay uncle and a gang of “mysterious” girls reveling in their so-called indecency. Drawn into their illicit trysts, Okomo finds herself falling in love with their leader and rebelling against the rigid norms of Fang culture.