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A Celebration of Marguerite Duras with Kate Zambreno and Translators Olivia Baes and Emma Ramadan

A discussion of The Dorothy Project’s Me & Other Writing, a new collection of Marguerite Duras’s nonfiction, and the challenges of translating her work for English-speaking audiences. Kate Zambreno will moderate the discussion between the collection’s translators, Emma Ramadan and Olivia Baes.


In her nonfiction as well as her fiction, Marguerite Duras’s curiosity was endless, her intellect voracious. Within a single essay she might roam from Flaubert to the “scattering of desire” to the Holocaust; within the body of her essays overall, style is always evolving, subject matter shifting, as her mind pushes beyond the obvious toward ever-original ground.

Me & Other Writing is a guidebook to the extraordinary breadth of Duras’s nonfiction. From the stunning one-page “Me” to the sprawling 70-page “Summer 80,” there is not a piece in this collection that can be easily categorized. These are essayistic works written for their times but too virtuosic to be relegated to history, works of commentary or recollection or reportage that are also, unmistakably, works of art.


Marguerite Duras was one of France’s most important and prolific writers. Born Marguerite Donnadieu in 1914 in what was then French Indochina, she went to Paris in 1931 to study at the Sorbonne. During WWII she was active in the Resistance, and in 1945 she joined the Communist Party. Duras wrote many novels, plays, films, and essays during her lifetime. She is perhaps best known for her internationally bestselling novel The Lover, which won the Prix Goncourt in 1984. She died in Paris in 1996.

Emma Ramadan is a literary translator based in Providence, RI, where she co-owns Riffraff, a bookstore and bar. She is the recipient of an NEA fellowship, a PEN/Heim grant, and a Fulbright for her translation work. Her translations include Anne Garréta’s Sphinx and Not One Day, Virginie Despentes’s Pretty Things, Ahmed Bouanani’s The Shutters, and Marcus Malte’s The Boy.

Olivia Baes is a trilingual Franco-American writer and actress. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Comparative Literature and a Master of the Arts in Cultural Translation from the American University of Paris.

Kate Zambreno is the author most recently of a collection of talks and essays, Appendix Project (Semiotext(e)’s Native Agents), and a collection of stories and other writing, Screen Tests (Harper Perennial). A novel, Drifts, is forthcoming from Riverhead in Spring 2020. She is at work on a study of Hervé Guibert for Columbia University Press.

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