The New Quarantine

354 pages, paperback
Inside The Castle

A few years ago, the Swedish writer and performance artist Sara Tuss Efrik wrote me an email saying she had translated my entire first book, A New Quarantine Will Take My Place (Apostrophe Books, 2007), into Swedish. I was surprised and pleased since I am a fan of her own work. When I read the manuscript I was stunned and excited. Efrik had transformed the book. Rather than a series of poems, she had transformed the book into a kind of horror movie: Sara Tuss Efrik has to stay in Johannes Göransson’s macabre quarantine for forty nights. As for the writing, Efrik had dismissed the typical demand for fidelity and “capturing the spirit” of the text, and had instead stayed intensively true to her own experiences of the text, including the experiences (for example the loss of a boyfriend) that the text evoked for her. The result is a text that approached translation not as an attempt to conserve a text as it is brought into another language, but as a metamorphosis. Associations lead to new connections and possibilities. The title of the individual poem “A Shotgun Wedding in the Ribcage of the Bourgeoisie” (from the original book) brings the artist Louise Bourgeois occultly into the book, the quarantine, where she tussles with her sister, Shirley Temple. Inspired by her method as well as results, I instantly decided to translate the text “back” into English. As I went along, I found that Efrik’s translation method had rubbed off on me. I too began to translate associatively, bodily. We ended up with hundreds of pages that we then narrowed down into a kind of horror novel. Will Sara survive inside the quarantine for 40 nights? Will Johannes find his way back inside the quarantine or will he be lost on “The Island of Death”?