Laila Riazi

Discipline/Field: Translation

Based in: Berkeley, CA

About: Laila Riazi is an interdisciplinary writer, teacher, translator, and editor born in California to Iranian immigrants. She earned her B.A. in Comparative Literature and Economics at UCLA and is currently a doctoral student at University of California, Berkeley, working and thinking across French, English, Arabic, and Persian traditions. Her interests lie in resistive literary movements, translational aporias, cross-linguistic literary histories, non-communicative language, minor literatures, and little-known books as well as their authors.

Project Title: as the first winner of the LA Review of Books + Yefe Nof Translation Residency, Ms. Riazi has chosen to translate Lebanese-American artist and writer, Etel Adnan’s, little-known novella, l’Oeil Noir, from the French language. Published in 1973, l’Oeil Noir takes place the same year, in Beirut, during a defining moment in Levantine geopolitics. Featuring a well-known historical figure, the Israeli general and politician Moshé Dayan, it charts the narrator’s conversations with a mysterious Palestinian man, Farid, previously Dayan’s right-hand man. Adnan withholds political judgment in the story. Perhaps, and to the contrary, her character Farid betrays her lifelong sympathy for the Palestinian cause. His fictional murder of Dayan functions to question revolutionary violence, not to endorse it. 

At Yefe Nof, Ms. Riazi plans to further her research on the historical and literary context in which Adnan wrote l’Oeil Noir. She will also spend some time fine-tuning her translations of dialogue and description. Ms. Riazi’s translation will be published in The LARB Quarterly and in LARB online.

Relevant links: UC Berkeley Department of Comparative Literature