5 things you didn’t know about Sitting Bull

25 Aug 2016

The magnificent Sorrow of the Earth is out now, an astonishing work of historical re-imagining which tells the little-known story of the Native Americans swallowed up by Buffalo Bill’s great entertainment machine. To celebrate its publication, we’ve been thinking about the legacy of one of the most famous Native Americans in history, and one of Buffalo Bills performers, Sitting Bull. Here are five little-known facts about the great Sioux chief and holy man.

1. He was originally named “Jumping Badger.”
Sitting Bull was born around 1831 and was initially called “Jumping Badger” by his family, but earned the boyhood nickname “Slow” for his quiet and deliberate demeanour. At 14, he distinguished himself by knocking a warrior from his horse with a tomahawk. In celebration of the boy’s bravery, his father gave up his own name and transferred it to his son. From then on, Slow was known as Tatanka-Iyotanka, or “Sitting Bull.”

2. He was the first man to become chief of the whole Lakota Sioux nation
In the 1860s, Sitting Bull became known as one of the fiercest opponents of white encroachment on Sioux land, resisting through raids on livestock and attacks against military strongholds, including many against Fort Buford in North Dakota.

3. He didn’t lead the Indians at the Battle of the Little Bighorn 
Following the Battle of the Little Bighorn, many people credited Sitting Bull with having masterminded the Indian victory. But while the 45-year-old was active in protecting the camp’s women and children during the attack, he seems to have left the fighting to the younger men, the main heroes on the day being his nephew White Bull and the Oglala Lakota warrior Crazy Horse.

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Behind the Book: Sophie Hughes

25 Aug 2016

This week, on Behind the Book, we caught up with the brilliant Sophie Hughes, literary translator of The Boy Who Stole Attila’s Horse, by Iván Repila, and also Rodrigo Hásbun’s Affections. Read on to learn about female guerrillas in Latin America, how translation can be less constraining than writing, and why you wouldn’t want to be stuck in a lift with Donald Trump.

 

Do you have a particular translating routine?

 Not really. I know when I’m translating something special because time flies: I skip meals; I won’t clock watch or get distracted by the Internet. But on the whole, every time I think I’ve struck upon a routine, I move house or office or country, or start a new book that demands a completely different rhythm. For Attila I worked in bursts, and painstakingly, with no first rough draft. Each sentence was a little sculpture I chipped away at then dotingly polished as I went. Repila’s novel required—at least I felt so—that kind of process. With Affections, it was more about trying to simultaneously understand the characters and preserve their enigma, never explaining them away or painting them in opaque colours through my choice of English words. Perhaps the point of that novel, if a novel can be said to have a point, is to slowly imbue the readers with a sense of who each character is, and how they came to be that way. I struggled with that, because as a translator you feel you ought to know each character in order to perform them, and the magic of Affections is how it continues to mature in your mind long after reading it; each new reading truly does offer something new (whether it’s a keener sense of who the characters are, or a better understanding of the politics underpinning the family story). I did a lot of drafts because it’s very short. And I fell for Monika Ertl, as a character and historical figure.

I couldn’t believe I’d never heard of her and wanted to know more about other female guerrillas (in both their clandestine and combatant functions), all largely absent from the history of Latin America that I’d received until then. I did my research as I translated the novel. Also, in Havana in early 2016 I was happy to find some photos and info on the Mariana Grajales Women’s Platoon in the Museo de la Revolución. I suppose part of my routine could be said to be spending as much time as possible in Latin America and Spain.

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A Q&A with Rachel Elliott

18 Aug 2016

Whispers Through a Megaphone, Rachel Elliott’s Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction longlisted debut, is now out in paperback. If you’ve not already devoured this wonderfully whimsical tale, now’s the time! To whet your appetite, read on for a Q&A between Rachel and her editor Elena Lappin, covering, amongst other things, Rachel’s literary influences, a very inspirational holiday in St Ives and a snoozing miniature schnauzer.

Do you remember the moment you conceived the idea for this book?

I was on holiday in St Ives – a place where stories often begin for me. It wasn’t an idea as such, it was an image: Miriam’s house and street, a nondescript suburb, she was standing at the window, I could see brown and orange carpets, a white cuckoo clock. Over time, I was able to pan out and see across town, as far as a man sleeping in a shack in the woods. The chapters emerged from each other in a visual way like scenes in a graphic novel, usually in the style of something like The Last Saturday by Chris Ware, and every character has a real persona and a cartoon persona in my mind. Sadly, I can’t draw like Chris Ware – if I could, this might have been a comic.

Who are your main literary influences?

I’ll name just a few. Tove Jansson (magic and complexity, presented with simplicity). Patricia Highsmith (I love the constant air of menace, how it seems to come from nowhere). Chris Ware and Alison Bechdel (they express so much emotion in a beautifully direct way). Virginia Woolf (life-changing). AM Homes (does the darkest, strangest, funniest things to suburban domesticity). Ali Smith (if writing like this can exist, can anything in life be impossible?). Jon McGregor (vivid, visual, poetic). Lorrie Moore (funny and sad – her observations are addictive). Richard Yates (for how he writes about disappointment). Nicola Barker (Darkmans was a revelation).

 In one sentence: Who is Rachel Elliott?

At this moment, Rachel Elliott is a woman in a checked shirt, jeans and Nordic slippers, sitting at a dining table in a house in Bath, staring at a laptop, eating Cadbury’s Mini Eggs, chatting to a miniature schnauzer who isn’t listening, because he’s dreaming, twitching and snoring, despite the sound of Kate Bush, coming from a speaker beside him, singing a song about the sweet morning fog.

Read the full Q&A on the ONE website or grab a copy of Whispers Through a Megaphone here.

Rachel Elliott reads from Whispers Through a Megaphone

11 Aug 2016

Have you met Ralph, Miriam and Sadie yet? Whispers Through a Megaphone, Rachel Elliott’s Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction longlisted debut is now out in paperback. The perfect summer read, now’s the time to delve into Rachel’s wonderfully crafted world of unusual, loveable characters as they struggle to forge meaningful relationships in today’s over-connected, social media-driven world.

Intrigued? Listen to Rachel reading the first chapter of Whispers Through a Megaphone now.

We challenge you not to be hooked!

 

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