UCSB Latin American and Iberian Studies Program

Interview with Suzanne Levine

LAIS affiliated faculty, literary scholar, poet, translator and Emerita Professor, Suzanne Jill Levine (Spanish and Portuguese) earned a BA at Vassar College, an MA at Columbia University, and a PhD in the field of Latin American literature at New York University. She is the author of several books, notably the literary biography Manuel Puig and the Spider Woman (2000) and the critical work The Subversive Scribe: Translating Latin American Fiction (1991). She has recently served as guest editor for the forthcoming issue of Literature and Arts of the Americas, in Summer 2020 . We recently caught up with Professor Levine to learn more about the earlier years of her career, and her recent work as guest editor. 

Can you tell us about your work, and your co-editing of issues 100 and 101 of Review Magazine, the first English-language journal to chronicle the reviews of Latin American writing?

 I started graduate school in Latin American studies in 1967 at Columbia University in New York, my native city, where I began working as a research assistant and translator with Review Magazine, published by the Americas Society. My earliest publications were a scholarly article on Pedro Paramo and One Hundred Years of Solitude and a bibliography of Latin American fiction in translation, published in 1969 and the first of its kind. My initial translations would later come to be supported by the Americas Society, originally the Center for Inter-American Relations, a literature program that was enabling prominent publishing companies to print new translated works by what were then unknown writers from South America. In 1972 I published my first article on the creative process of translation titled “Notes on Translation,” in Review 71/72. This was a stab at what would become twenty years later my book The Subversive Scribe: Translating Latin American Fiction. (1991;2009) Review Magazine was the first English-language journal to chronicle the reviews of Latin American writing. As an eyewitness to the birth of Review Magazine in 1968, I have been given the task of co-editing issues 100 and 101. Review 100 highlights thirty years of the critical writings in the magazine from its inception through 2000. Review 101 will do the same for the first two decades of the 21st Century. We hope that these selections of essays and articles will serve readers, academics and students by revisiting significant contributions and contributors to the journal over a period of nearly fifty years. Our selection traces the journal’s trajectory over those dynamic years of the Boom, its precedents and its aftermath, as it expanded its attentions to women writers and poets who had been unjustly sidelined throughout history in Latin America as elsewhere. The journal would expand its mission to include literary and cultural production including music and the visual arts in both hemispheres as well as the Latino/a diaspora in North America. Review has thus broadened its context to address not only Latin America but cultural exchange among the Americas. Hence its design changed that year to provide an appropriate format for the visual arts: the journal was thus renamed “Review: Literature and the Arts of the Americas.”