My fiction, on the other hand, looks outward and has a strong picaresque streak, with plots built on improbable characters whose path I discover as I write my way into and through the books.

The art of translation has shaped me as a writer. Over the years I have drunk deeply from many sources in English, Spanish, French, Catalan, German, Italian and Russian.


Natalya, God’s Messenger

Scribner, 1994.  The story of Rita, daughter of Russian immigrants, and now living in postwar America, who takes over a palm-reading practice and is reborn as Natalya, God’s messenger. Her fame spreads as she predicts social upheaval and political changes, and she is re-united with Leo, her former lover.


The Women Troubadours

This is the first twentieth-century study of the women troubadours who flourished in Southern France between 1150 and 1250-the great period of troubadour poetry. The book is comprised of a full-length essay on women in the Middle Ages, twenty-three poems by the women troubadours themselves in the original Provencal with translations on facing pages, a capsule biography of each poet, notes, and reading list.



For many writers– Rilke, Pasternak and so many others—translation has been integral part of their own art. So it has been for me.

Translation links the living and the dead, the ancient and the modern, contemporaries working in languages that are all different forms of the same clay.

Every translation is a reading, a work for four hands: those of the original writer, and those of the translator. The ideal translation holds a mirror to the original and gives pleasure to the artful reader, who should be able to detect that double presence.



The novel on which I’m currently working…


Also in progress…