Tuesday, April 22, 2014

For the Love of Translations

I've had the pleasure of attending many literary events here in Berlin over the past couple of months, while meeting many wonderful people involved in the city's English-language literary community. For readers who love to read translations from other countries, here are two noteworthy publishers you should know about -- one a literary journal and one a press specializing in short-form translations.


Asymptote Senior Editor Florian Duijsens
and author Thomas Pletzinger
Launched in January 2011, Asymptote's April 2014 issue features English-language translations of: poems by Elke Erb, Yousef el Qedra, and Kim Ki-Taek; fiction by Antonio Ungar, Prabda Yoon, and Marianne Fritz; an non-fiction by Herta Müller, Jonathan Littell. Each issue includes special features such as interviews.

On 3 April 2014, here in Berlin, the online journal Asymptote celebrated its 3rd anniversary -- following similar celebrations in Boston, Zagreb, Philadelphia, and Shanghai. The Berlin event featured readings from contributors Shane Anderson, Katy Derbyshire, Eugene Ostashevsky, Thomas Pletzinger, and Brittani Sonnenberg, along with Q&A discussions of the difficulties and rewards of translation.

One of my favorite quotes of the night was from Thomas Pletzinger, whose novel, Bestattung eines Hundes, was translated into English by Ross Benjamin and published as Funeral for a Dog by W.W. Norton in 2011. Pletzinger, who himself works as a translator of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, said "The great thing about translation is that you get to write a book, but you don't have to go through the whole painful process of invention."

Readux Books

Launched in 2013, Readux Books publishes short works of literature, 32-64 pages in length, with a primary focus on texts translated into English. The press aims to release four books three times each year. So far, two series have been published -- the first in October 2013 and the second in February 2014.

Felicity Hoppe and Katy Derbyshire
The Series 2 launch event in Berlin featured readings and discussions with Philipp Schonthaler -- whose work, When the Heart Drowns in Its Own Blood, was translated by Readux founder Amanda DeMarco -- and Felicity Hoppe -- whose work, Picnic of the Virtues, was translated by Katy Derbyshire. A surprise treat of the evening was hearing Hoppe read from her German translation of Green Eggs and Ham -- Grünes Ei mit Speck. Other books published in Series 2 are The Lesson, by Cilla Nauman, translated by Saskia Vogel, and Flight, by Adrian Todd Zuniga.

Readux Books has recently partnered with Edit -- a literary magazine from Leipzig, which features new German writing -- to sponsor New German Fiction, a contest for young writers. Two winning entries by 30-and-under German writers will be published -- in English by Readux Books, and in German by Edit. The deadline for entries to the New German Fiction contest is 31 May 2014.

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