Wednesday, July 15, 2020

"The Afrikaner" shortlisted "Best Fiction 2020" by Miramichi Reader

Arianna Dagnino's THE AFRIKANER shortlisted for 'BEST BOOK' by Miramichi Reader. “Best Fiction” is the most popular category at The Miramichi Reader. Here are the seven “Best Fiction” titles of 2020:
"Side by Side" by Anita Kushwaha (Inanna Publications)
"The Afrikaner" by Arianna Dagnino (Guernica Editions, guest post at "Consumed by Ink" by James Fisher).
"Some People’s Children by Bridget Canning" (Breakwater Books)
"The Tender Birds" by Carole Giangrande (Inanna Publications)
"A Song From Faraway" by Deni Ellis Béchard (Goose Lane Editions)
"Lay Figures" by Mark Blagrave (Nimbus Publishing)
"All I Ask" by Eva Crocker (House of Anansi Press)
Of the above seven titles, three will be awarded either gold, silver, or bronze award early in September 2020. The entire longlist can be seen here.

Arianna Dagnino's website:

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Inside the Emotion of Fiction

Soon I realized how much the old San Bushman shaman could “tell me” with his simple gestures and facial expressions. In this passage (beginning of Chapter 1 of The Afrikaner), I tried to recreate that emotional space, that sense of being suspended between reality and some other plane of existence and meaning."
Read the whole review with Arianna Dagnino by Chris Rice Cooper here or download it here: 

Friday, June 5, 2020

Bilingual writers, (self-)translation and the stylistic revolution

Bilingualism and self-translation may be used to question or redefine one’s cultural identity and to dislocate and decentralize contextual dominant idioms. I stress the word contextual because idioms become dominant depending on the context in which they are actively practiced and pursued. The writer Antonio D’Alfonso’s Italian, for instance, is perceived as a minority language in the Canadian context, but it is definitely lived as a dominant idiom by migrant or foreign writers trying to find their way into the Italian literary system. In this regard, D’Alfonso, like the writer Tim Parks (who lives in Italy and mainly writes in English), is considered an outsider whose Italian is not sufficiently refined or literary enough in the eyes of the local/national intelligentsia. As the Italian writer Francesca Marciano comments, “Italians haven’t yet got rid of a certain elitist and pretentious view of literary style. They still have to undergo the stylistic revolution that the English went through with its Hemingways, Carvers and Faulkners” (Dagnino and Marciano, 2017).
By his own admission, D’Alfonso started off self-translating with the aim of expanding his readership and acquiring literary recognition outside the stifling cultural and linguistic borders of French Quebec:
"Most of my essays written in French have never been published in French. All my essays I had to translate and publish in English. My anti-nationalism […] is clearly not appreciated by my French-language publishers […]."
(Dagnino and D’Alfonso, 2017)
D’Alfonso thus started off as a Widener, willing to expose his work to a wider, English-reading audience. In the process, though, he understood that he could also use self-translation as a tool to call into question the centrality of two of the most influential languages (and their related literary cultures) on the global scene—namely, English and French.
That is why D’Alfonso’s self-translations may also be read—quoting him—as “subversive acts, perhaps the most subversive acts in the world today” (ibid.).
We should not forget that, indeed, we are dealing with a global literary scene in which, if we just look at the United States, the biggest publishing market on earth, only an infinitesimal part of published books are translations: “The sad statistics indicate that in the United States and the United Kingdom, for example, only two to three percent of books published each year are literary translations” (Grossman, 2011, n.p.).[17] A closer look reveals an even worse state of affairs, as the two to three percent figure is considerably bolstered by technical manuals and other non-fiction texts. For literary fiction and poetry, the figure is actually closer to 0.7%.[18]
D’Alfonso’s task of acting as a language dislocator through self-translation is tremendously ambitious and perhaps defiantly hopeless, as he admits:
"(Self-)Translation means leaving your windows open for the passers-by… [But] who are we to want to pretend to have something new to offer to cultures that have shut tight the gates of national imagination? […] If one considers that translations are rarely read and never reviewed, a translation is a waste of time for any writer who is content on reading himself and his buddies. Why read an author who introduces a worldview and works in a style totally foreign to yours? To do so would demonstrate an openness of spirit that is, in fact, atypical." (Dagnino and D’Alfonso, 2017)
You can read the full article by Arianna Dagnino, published in the journal TTR, here:
Arianna Dagnino, "Breaking the Linguistic Minority Complex through Creative Writing and Self-Translation." TTR-Traduction, Terminologie, Rédaction, Volume 32, Issue 2, 2e semestre 2019/2020, pp. 107-129.
Biographical note
Arianna Dagnino is a writer, researcher and literary translator with extensive experience as an international reporter. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature and Sociology from the University of South Australia and currently teaches at the University of British Columbia. The recipient of a SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship (2017-2019) at the University of Ottawa (School of Translation and Interpretation), her publications include Transcultural Writers and Novels in the Age of Global Mobility (Purdue University Press, 2015), The Afrikaner (Guernica, 2019), a transcultural novel set in South Africa which she self-translated from Italian into English, and several books on the impact of information technology and global mobility: I nuovi nomadi (Castelvecchi, 1996), Uoma (Mursia, 2000), and Jesus Christ Cyberstar (Ipoc, 2008).

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Finding oneself on the wrong side of history

Alan Twigg's review of my novel The Afrikaner in the spring issue of "BC Booklook" goes to the core of the predicament faced by the protagonist of the story, Zoe du Plessis, a young female scientist (33) who grew up in South Africa in a deeply entrenched white family: "Zoe is little concerned with money, status or personal appearance. Instead she seeks belonging."
Later on, Twigg thus describes and comments on Zoe's field expedition in the Kalahari Desert in Namibia in a hunt for fossils and for herself: "In the field, near an encampment of twenty some Bushmen people, in charge of men under strenuous circumstances, able to have a brief shower only once a week, Zoe proceeds to explore her place in South African society, contemporary and otherwise, with a candour that makes The Afrikaner increasingly engaging."
At the end of his review Twigg hints at the film transposition of Zoe's story, which would allow to show southern Africa's majestic beauty, its cultural complexity and historical fault lines.
You can read the whole review here:
Arianna Dagnino, The Afrikaner. A Novel  (Guernica, 2019)

Friday, May 8, 2020

Zoe's Story, "The Afrikaner,"​ Goes International

A woman scientist ventures into a scorching desert to search for fossils and confront the dark shadows of her Afrikaner heritage. Set between South Africa and the Kalahari Desert in Namibia, the story of palaeontologist Zoe du Plessis, the Afrikaner of the book title, has the ability to cross borders and resonate with the hearts and souls of readers far away from the hot plains of southern Africa. Because all people have a history and all nations have bloodlines. They all get shaken up and suffer trauma. But they all learn to cope with the past, learn from it and find a resolution. This is the underlying message running through The Afrikaner, which after its English publication will soon be available in German, Arabic, Italian and Afrikaans. Covid-19 permitting, the German translation will be launched at the 2020 edition of the Frankfurt Book Fair in October.
In the meantime, the author of the novel (Arianna Dagnino) and her writing partner (Ernest Mathijs), both based in Vancouver, have completed the screenplay based on Zoe's story and started pitching the script to interested producers and film makers. In their view, the screenplay would profit from a synergetic triangulation between South Africa, Europe and North America.
Book Trailer:

Book at Guernica's Website:
Book Website:
Listen to Chapter 1:

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Audio book of "The Afrikaner" (Chapter 1)

Listen to an audio excerpt from Arianna Dagnino's novel "The Afrikaner" read by the Los Angeles-based, South African actor Dennis Kleinman from A World Voice: Transcending Geographic Boundaries. 

Audiobook (Chatpter 1):

The Afrikaner. A Novel (and now also a screenplay!)

hashtag#TheAfrikaner #theafrikanernovel #theafrikanerbook

Thursday, April 16, 2020

How much freedom should a creative writer have?

I thank the South African writer Toni Henning for her review of my novel “The Afrikaner” (Guernica Editions, Toronto, 2019). One comment struck me most and made me ponder over the total freedom writers can and should have when devising their stories and the characters that inhabit them: “I can hardly believe that the author is not South African.”
Here is the Toni Henning’s full review: 
“The Afrikaner stirred a number of emotions in me; pride in the beauty of the landscapes and places of South Africa, my beloved country, incredibly described by Arianna Dagnino; the pain of loss, new and old; shame and frustration triggered by the recount of history and the fact that, so many years later, we, as a nation, are still struggling to break free; disheartened that the potential of Africa is lost due to this continent’s people’s short-sightedness and the world’s indifference; and, hope that even the most dire circumstances can be healed. Arianna’s characters are genuine; their emotions are raw; their lives are real. Having read the book I can hardly believe that the author is not South African. To read The Afrikaner is to find The Rainbow Nation exposed.”

"The Afrikaner" shortlisted "Best Fiction 2020" by Miramichi Reader

Arianna Dagnino's THE AFRIKANER shortlisted for 'BEST BOOK' by Miramichi Reader. “Best Fiction” is the most popular categor...