Professor Alexander Dickow
I read Sylvie's Neverending Quest after spotting an excerpt on the Women's Poetry mailing list (WOMPO), and found the work compelling enough to invite Sylvie to Virginia Tech, where she presented her work in a reading and a lecture. We have continued to collaborate by way of translating her book and in the context of other projects. As for why I was interested in the epic, I am consistently drawn to hybrid forms, and contemporary epic is one such form, always caught somewhere between the ancient epic tradition and the novel. Such a book necessarily approaches literary and social issues at an oblique angle that to me provides special insight.
Sylvie Kandé’s Quête infinie de l’autre rive (Neverending Quest for the Other Shore, Gallimard, 2011) won the Lucienne Gracia-Vincent Prize under the auspices of the Fondation Saint-John Perse in 2017, and was shortlisted for both the Prix des Découvreurs and the Prix Mahogany. Alexander Dickow has completed an English translation of the work thanks to a PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant (2018), an excerpts of the translation have appeared in Asymptote, as a runner-up in that journal’s Close Approximations Translation contest. That English translation is now seeking a publisher.
Professor Alexander Dickow’s article in the Fall 2018 issue of JNT, “The Contemporary Hero in Sylvie Kandé’s Epic of Futurity, La Quête infinie de l’autre rive” is the first in-depth, sustained critical examination of Kandé’s epic (see also Catherine Mazauric’s Mobilités d’Afrique en Europe, Karthala, 2012). Dickow and Kandé are grateful for the honor of being featured in JNT alongside so many worthy, exciting articles!
Excerpts from the English translation by Dickow:
Sylvie Kandé’s homepage:
Alexander Dickow’s homepage: