Praise for Becka Mara McKay


on her poetry:

Through a marvelous diversity of style, form, and voice, the thread of spirit—of questing for it, of questioning it—leads us through this uncommonly strong first collection. Just beneath its surface runs a meditation on translation, on the peculiar kind of carrying over that begins in language and somehow overflows into our bodies, memories, times. This is a book that takes on difficult reconciliations, both cultural and personal. Does everything come down to capitulation or resistance? McKay asks—and then, refusing the ease of answers, she remains vertiginously in the heart of the questions.
—Cole Swensen


“Blood has its own syntax,” writes Becka McKay in her debut collection. A translator, interpreter, and guide, the speaker of this volume not only instructs us in the languages of our postmodern geopolitical Babe;—“the boy took my breath / in his mouth. Do you love it, / he asked. Hebrew / has no word for like”—but in lexicons of the inner life as well, from the “infinite grammars of betrayal,” to “the linguistics of clouds,” which “changes from country to country.” Only a writer endowed with McKay’s rueful cosmopolitanism could title a lyric ”You are Not Here,‘ leaving her reader both unsettled and, curiously, at home before the poem even begins. Ranging from the Pacific Northwest to Jerusalem to more fugitive topographies such as Utopia and “the kingdom of transitive verbs,” McKay’s speaker ultimately arrives at the fugitive yet purposive source of lyric utterance itself: “your mouth is always part river, part crossing.”
—Srikanth Reddy


on her translations:

The book deftly balances the framework of a psychological drama with a deep lyricism. Translator Becka Mara McKay maintains this gorgeous tension in lucid, gripping prose. We have both Adam and McKay to thank for a novel so compelling and beautifully wrought that we hardly notice when nearly two hundred and thirty pages have passed before we are brought to the dark heart of Ildiko's action...
—Diana Thow, at Words Without Borders


McKay’s quiet translations convey Epstein’s imperceptible wink to the reader, as well as the often elegiac and formal tone of the original.
—Tsipi Keller, in Metamorphoses


Becka Mara McKay is slowly becoming one of our most reliable translators from the Hebrew.
—Daniela Hurezanu, in Three Percent


The narrative itself is clear and seems almost effortless in its moving pace and mesmerizing plot, a seamlessness which the reader may contribute to both Adam and her translator, Becka Mara McKay.
—Jenna Furman at Three Percent