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The Water People by Vénus Khoury-Ghata, trans. by Marilyn Hacker
PBS Autumn Translation Choice 2022

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Vénus Khoury-Ghata is an outstanding figure in contemporary literature, with a prolific output in both poetry and prose. She is celebrated for her immersive landscapes and folkloric narratives, drawn from her upbringing in Lebanon but expressed in the language of France, where she has lived since 1972. In Khoury-Ghata’s poetry, Arabic and French literary traditions merge like water from the river and the waterfall. Her mesmeric sequences plunge us into a semi-surreal world where humans and trees, plants, animals and the elements themselves are intertwined and yet forever fluid – a world where we are urged to leave our ‘voices behind’, to ‘listen better’. This book presents an extended extract from her 2018 collection Gens de l’eau, brought vividly to life in English by her long-time translator and award-winning poet Marilyn Hacker.

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