Featured Translation: Please Talk to Me by Liliana Heker


There were over 450 new translations published this year, and trust us, we know from experience, keeping track of them all can be a maddening exercise. Each weekday from now until the end of the year we’ll focus on a different title that you may have missed. From short story collections to epic novels, from award winning works of the highest literary caliber to trashy romantic beach reads, we’ll highlight the very best, and the very worst that 2015 had to offer, one book at a time.

Please Talk to Me by Liliana Heker / Translated from the Spanish by Alberto Manguel and Miranda FranceBack in May, just before we disappeared unexpectedly for a bit, the first (and so far only) entry in our Words of the World series was posted. Focusing on five writers from Argentina that you should read, this all male list sparked something of a mini gender debate on Twitter. More recently an excellent list titled BEYOND BORGES: 5 ARGENTINE WRITERS YOU SHOULD KNOW was complied by Buenos Aires Review editor and Sergio Chejfec translator Heather Cleary. There was some cross over between the two articles, but one name that somehow didn’t make either was Liliana Heker.

Heker started writing at the age of 17 and chose founding and writing for left wing publications over exile during the country’s Dirty War of the 70’s and 80’s. Spanning her entire career and combining previously translated stories by Alberto Manguel with new, first time translations by Miranda France, the dark and family focused collection Please Talk to Me was published in May by Yale University Press.

Manguel on the power of Heker’s writing, from the volume’s introduction:

In every case, Heker’s stories raise the quotidian to the literary status of an epic. Her characters face minute dilemmas with the wholeheartedness and courage of knights errant, as if they realized that possible solutions to our greatest sorrows can sometimes be discerned in the undergrowth of private heartbreaks and the tangle of intimate losses, in secret paths that may lead away from the traps of private violence, alcoholism, betrayal of love, familiar misunderstandings.

You can sample her work for yourself by reading one of the collection’s stories, Every Person’s Little Treasure, in Granta Magazine. You can also read Heker’s first hand account of living through the Dirty War at Yale Books Unbound.

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About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.