My Chat with Gregory Rabassa

Gregory and Clementine Rabassa

I blogged last year about my excitement when The Rumpus asked me to interview Gregory Rabassa. Nothing ever happens as quickly as you think it will, but now the interview is finished and up on the Rumpus website, and I’m just thrilled to have had the opportunity to speak at such length with this man who played such a huge role in getting me excited about literature when I was a teenager walking around drunk on Cortázar and García Márquez. I was expecting a dignified giant (he’s a nonagenerian, after all), but instead I found a friendly sprite of a man who loves making puns and flirting. His wife Clementine, in what appeared to be a running joke between the two, kept coming into the room and mock-scolding both of us. Here’s one exchange between her and me that didn’t make the final cut:

Clem:Don’t spoil him.

Me: If I pay too much attention to him I’m spoiling him, but I’m interviewing him! What do I do?

Clem:Behave. Just behave, that’s it.

Me: I’ll behave! 

While I was behaving, I managed to ask Rabassa a number of questions about his life and work as a translator and the history of the field. Not surprisingly, he had great stories to tell. You’ll find them here.

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  1. Chris Kearin says:

    Great interview; it’s wonderful to still have that living connection to all those departed 20th-century writers (as well as those who are still around).

    If you’ve never come across them, there are some very interesting letters to Rabassa in Cortázar’s Cartas.

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