Sergio Chejfec’s Translator, Heather Cleary, on Chejfec’s Approach to Writing

Heather Cleary, Sergio Chejfec’s translator, has a fascinating take on his approach to language. She notes that he has a way of distancing the reader at the same time he brings the reader in.

Reading Sergio Chejfec, I’m always struck by the way his prose both deflects and draws the reader in, never allowing complete immersion in the narrative: whether explicitly or implicitly, the medium in which the story is told is under constant scrutiny. In other words, I’m struck by the way Chejfec’s language is never “natural.” He discusses this aspect of his work in a beautiful essay titled “Simple Language, Name,” which hinges on the capaciousness of the word “nombre” (both “name” and, grammatically, “noun”). The piece begins with a reflection on the necessary illusion of linguistic transparency, and then delves into the particular kind of access to personal histories and collective traditions that surnames allow.

The full article is worth reading for this Argentine author. (via)