Hasak-Lowy, Todd 1969–
Hasak-Lowy, Todd 1969–
PERSONAL: Born 1969; married; wife's name, Taal; children: Ariel, Noam (daughters). Education: University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D.
ADDRESSES: Office—University of Florida, Department of African and Asian Languages and Literatures, 470 Grinter Hall, Box 115565, Gainesville, FL 32611. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer, historian, translator, and educator. University of Florida, Gainsville, assistant professor of Hebrew languages and literature, 2002–.
The Task of This Translator (short stories), Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2005.
Contributor to periodicals, including Hebrew Studies, Prooftexts, and Iowa Review.
Contributor to books, including Crisis and Memory: The Representation of Space in Modern Levantine Narrative, edited by Ken Seigneurie, Reichert Verlag (Wiesbaden, Germany), 2003, and World Literature and Its Time 6: Middle Eastern Literatures and Their Times, edited by Joyce Moss, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 2004.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Here and Now: History, Nationalism, and Realism in Hebrew Fiction.
SIDELIGHTS: Author, educator, and translator Todd Hasak-Lowy is an assistant professor of Hebrew language and literature. While struggling to complete his doctoral degree in comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley, he began to write fiction as "a diversion, a way for him to have another relationship with language and writing that was different from his scholarly work," noted Candace Quinn in the Gainesville Sun. Over the next seven years, Hasak-Lowy wrote short stories, several which have been published in his debut collection, The Task of This Translator.
Hasak-Lowy "seems preoccupied in this collection with where the microcosm ends and where the macrocosm takes over," remarked Nick Johnstone in Jerusalem Post. Emblematic of this attitude is HasakLowy's suggestion that his role as a writer is akin to that of "a translator striving to translate a moment of personal resonance into a universal one," Johnstone continued. "The Interview," for example, presents exactly what its title promises: a job interview. In this interview, however, the applicant does not strive to put his best qualities on display. Instead, he readily admits his social awkwardness, his tendency to have a temper, and his usual unwillingness to get his temper under control. In acknowledging that all of us have characteristics we try to suppress when it is to our advantage, Hasak-Lowy offers a commentary that rises from an individual's personal search for a job to the universal quest for work that isn't soul-numbing and creativity destroying.
In "Will Power, Inc." a journalist plans a profile of a company that guarantees its customers will lose weight, for the cost of 120,000 dollars per six-month program. The program offers more than nutritional counseling and inspiration meetings; the company also sends out a burly "diet escort" to forcibly prevent its clients from overeating. When the protagonist hires a diet escort of his own for the article he is working on, a Herculean battle of wills results. "On the Grounds of the Complex Commemorating the Nazis' Treatment of the Jews" concerns an Israeli, a former journalist who works at the café at Yad Vashem and engages in a physical conflict with an American over a stale pastry. In the collection's title story, an inept translator is hired by an Eastern European to facilitate communications at a family reunion, but botches the job in a series of gross miscommunications. The narrator finally realizes that the message his client had been trying to relate involves convincing the man's family that he is not a murderer.
"Hasak-Lowy has a good handle on the strangeness of media culture and a fine empathy for the struggle of the outsider," observed Marta Salij in the Detroit Free Press. His debut collection is "is full of adventurous ideas and some moments of genuine vivacity, pathos, and wit," noted Library Journal reviewer Laurie Sullivan. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the book an "intelligent collection," and noted that although "the selections are uneven, the collection's best work indicates the arrival of a cogent new Jewish-American voice."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Detroit Free Press, July 20, 2005, Marta Salij, review of The Task of This Translator.
Gainesville Sun, June 5, 2005, Candace Quinn, "The Evolution of a Writer," profile of Todd Hasak-Lowy.
Jerusalem Post, May 29, 2005, Nick Johnstone, "The World in Miniature," review of The Task of This Translator.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2005, review of The Task of This Translator, p. 138.
Library Journal, June 15, 2005, Laurie Sullivan, review of The Task of This Translator, p. 63.
Publishers Weekly, March 21, 2005, review of The Task of This Translator, p. 34.
University of Florida Department of African and Asian Languages and Literatures Web site, http://web.aall.ufl.edu/ (October 18, 2005), biography of Todd Hasak-Lowy.
JBooks.com, http://www.jbooks.com/ (October 18, 2005), Todd Hasak-Lowy and Jay Neugeboren, "The Hasak-Lowe/Neugeboren Letters."