Wearing boots and driven by the stern Coach Clemence, a Nigerian side discovers that it cannot play this imported game. “I can’t afford to spend all my life chasing the wind,” says Brother Okoro.
Goalkeepers—as 20th-century existentialists knew—provide football’s paradigm for action in the face of uncertainty.
In football, does Man the Player reject Man the Maker by having devised a game played with the feet? So asks sportsBabel’s Sean Smith before the World Cup.
For Aleksandar Hemon, the Bosnian-born writer, lack of soccer means spiritual death. With interview »
Anatoly Kuznetsov‘s work, smuggled to the UK in 1969, contained what would become, when translated, one of the first English-language accounts of Dynamo Kyiv’s deeds during World War II.
In Itay Meirson‘s first novel, Milchemet Tisheem Hadakot (The 90-Minute War), the intractable Middle Eastern dispute over Palestine is decided in one football match. The winning team keeps the Holy Land. The losers get eastern Oregon.
In the whirl of 17th-century London life, diarist Samuel Pepys had too many appointments to indulge in the well-established practice of street soccer. But, one frosty morn in Jan 1665, he notices a street “full of footballs.”
We publish a translation of a 1978 short story by Brazilian author Sérgio Sant’Anna in which a goalkeeper’s anxiety and his separation from fellows figure large: “The stadium explodes and I feel my own head bursting apart. … It’s like everything is very far away, without any relation to me.”
Assaf Gavron, captain of the Israeli writers’ XI (see 9 Dec 08), regards football as a legitimate literary subject: “The main appeal is to accomplish the boyhood dream of many men really, not only writers. It is to be a football star.” With podcast »
As part of a broader cultural exchange, Israel hosts an international Writers’ League tournament, including England and Germany, from Dec 14–16. A side of Israeli authors reprises a May friendly against Germany in Berlin, during which novelist Assaf Gavron confirmed his intuition that Germans do not miss penalties. (Dec 12)
What does soccer have to do with literature? asks Israeli novelist Assaf Gavron in advance of a Writers’ League friendly between Germany and Israel. “Soccer is life, literature is about life.”
A package of articles published Oct 5 on Brazilian Web portal Terra details the unique pressures facing Diego Graciano in promoting his biography of sensational 22-year-old Marta Vieira da Silva (see earlier articles, Sept 15 and 12 Sept 07). (Oct 13)
Diego Graciano makes clear in the title of his biography the nature of Marta’s struggle. Você é mulher, Marta! (You Are a Woman, Marta!) alludes to Marta’s mother’s reply when, as a girl, Marta asked her for a real ball.
Translation of the preface and prologue to Você é mulher, Marta (You Are a Woman, Marta!) (2008), the new biography of Marta Vieira da Silva by Diego Graciano. (Sept 15)
Claudio Tamburrini—philosophy professor and former goalkeeper—speaks about his Mar 1978 decision to “opt for life” and escape an Argentine prison. With podcast »
Why has a 1937 alignment of literary stars not featured in Vienna in the European Championship’s cultural program? Vladimir Nabokov lectures in a Parisian literary salon and espies James Joyce “sitting, arms folded and glasses glinting, in the midst of the Hungarian football team.”
The Global Game: Writers on Soccer is scheduled for November release—the product of some three years of compiling, winnowing and permissions seeking by myself and editors Thom Satterlee and Alon Raab, along with strong support and belief from the University of Nebraska Press in Lincoln and heroic efforts from a network of translators, working in Spanish, French, Italian, Danish, Portuguese and Slovenian. (Apr 24)
Portsmouth goalkeeper David James writes an entertaining column for Guardian Unlimited, most recently meditating on the cultural contact between football and smoking and confessing his own “15-year 20-a-day habit” (“It’s Time for the Whole Game to Stub Out My Filthy Habit,” Mar 16). (Mar 19)
We publish an excerpt from Matthew Concanen the Elder‘s 1720 canto describing a six-a-side football match in Dublin—at variance with a traditional view that only the frenzied folk football variety was contested at the time. The players “around the field in decent order stand …” (Mar 13)
Hugh Hornby, author of a comprehensive account of Britain’s 15 surviving festival football games—Uppies and Downies: The Extraordinary Football Games of Britain (English Heritage, 2008)—says the ideal venue for these mass-participation events is a town of between 5,000 and 10,000. With podcast »