Lit & Found: Mona Kareem’s ‘Quarantine,’ Tr. Sara Elkamel

In late September, The Offing published Mona Kareem’s “Quarantine” in translation by Sara Elkamel. The piece is a brief and wide meditation on anxiety, narrative structure, translation, poetry, and keeping things under control.

Among other beautiful moments:

Sometimes I turn towards translation, because it is a forest. I love its moisture, the lush green expanses, and the way the symphony of the universe flows like a waterfall in its vocal field. I try my best to only translate poetry, or an article I claim will change people’s lives in the target language. I write down the title, and the author’s name. I avoid writing my own name until I have successfully completed the procedure. If I fail, I leave the body open on the table, its heart still beating, and scurry out of the room. The nurses will dispose of the body—a little alcohol, cotton pads and twine, before depositing it in the fridge. Maybe one day, I’ll go down to the basement, pull it out of the fridge, and breathe life into it once again.

You can read the whole essay at The Offing.

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