Trair/Traduzir by Martha Witt

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Your guidelines clearly state that any story in translation must be submitted with the original text. This problem has me sacked out on my couch staring at the ceiling. I have no original text. Please consider making an exception for this submission. The narrative concerns an American woman who moved to Brazil to marry the man she loved. Only the English version describes the rage the new wife feels having learned that she’s been used. Hoodwinked, actually, makes for a better word choice since the entire scene took place one late morning during the rainy season. She so often wore a hood those days, even when taking her daily stroll from Copacabana to Ipanema. That morning, pulling the drawstring tight beneath her chin the way she did as a child back in the States, she left her building at 7am but, on instinct, returned home only twenty minutes later.

In English, I call her instinct a ‘sixth sense’, a convergence of senses like the convergence of colors, a white noise that can release the mind and body from their usual tethers so a woman who has lived a life of morning strolls and afternoon coffees can, without hesitation, push a knife straight into her young husband’s gut.

Translators fall into two basic camps: There are those who believe in absolute fidelity, a translation as close to literal as possible. That other camp allows for more artistic license. Again, please excuse the absence of the original. Take on faith that I firmly belong in the first camp.


Martha Witt’s novel, Broken As Things Are, Holt (2004) and Picador (2005), garnered high critical acclaim. Other published works include translations of Luigi Pirandello’s plays: Six Characters in Search of an Author and The License (Italica Press, 2014), as well as Henry IV (Italica Press, 2016). Her translation of Grazia Deledda’s L’Edera is forthcoming with Italica Press in 2019. Her flash fiction, short fiction, and fiction translations have appeared in journals such as Boulevard, One Story, The Chattahoochee Review, The Literary Review, Harpur Palate, and many others. She is the recipient of a John Gardner Award for Short Fiction, a Thomas J Watson Foundation Fellowship, a New York Times Fellowship, a McCracken Fellowship, and she was awarded residencies at the Yaddo, Ragdale, VCCA, and Elea Wassard artist colonies. Her short fiction is included in This Is Not Chick Lit, Stories by America’s Best Women Writers (Random House, 2006). She is currently an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at William Paterson University.

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