Translation x Creative Writing
Creative writing is itself a process of translation – translating lived or imagined experience into text – and for writers writing across cultures, there are many more literal acts of translation involved in the process. How do we make one culture legible to another in a way that is true to the fiction we’re writing and to the lives our characters are living? Where our characters speak one language but we write in another, their religious experiences, their humour, the symbols of their worlds – how do we translate these artefacts for audiences unfamiliar with or less familiar with their cultures?
This series of masterclasses is by translators of creative writing for creative writers and is designed to provide insight into these acts of translation that many if not all creative writers engage with. The sessions are small group and are led by the world’s leading translators – including two Booker Prize nominees and one Booker winner. Sessions will be craft focused. Session leaders include Jeremy Tiang, Antonia Lloyd-Jones, Duncan Large, Daniel Hahn and Marilyn Booth who will share their expertise and insights exclusively on the topic. Each masterclass will explore from a different perspective the relationship between translation and creative writing – which, although inextricably connected, are rarely considered together.
Sessions will run from 2 – 4pm on the Mondays specified below. Refreshments provided. Attendance is limited to fifteen participants. You may sign up below. Any student who signs up but fails to cancel with more than a week’s notice may not be permitted to attend future sessions.
Info about the masterclasses:
Bio: Jeremy Tiang, 2019 Inaugural Literary Translator of the London Book Fair, is the author of a short story collection, It Never Rains on National Day, and a novel, State of Emergency (2018 Singapore Literature Prize), as well as the translator of novels by Li Er, Zhang Yueran, Chan Ho-Kei, Yeng Pway Ngon and Yan Ge, amongst others. He also writes and translates plays. A founding member of the translation collective Cedilla & Co, he lives in Brooklyn.
Concept: A True Original. Jeremy will discuss his dual role as a writer and translator, along the lines of the continuum between translation and writing - from very literal translation to looser transcreation and adaptation, and even 'original' writing drawing from existing influences, which makes it more of a spectrum rather than a binary.
Bio: Antonia Lloyd-Jones translates from Polish, and in 2019 her translation of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk was shortlisted for the Man Booker International award. She has translated works by several of Poland’s leading contemporary novelists and reportage authors, as well as crime fiction, poetry and children’s books. She is a mentor for the Emerging Translators’ Mentorship Programme, and former co-chair of the UK Translators Association.
Concept: Translating for a Translator. In this masterclass, translator from Polish Antonia Lloyd-Jones and Polish author and translator Jacek Dehnel will talk about their working relationship, how translator and author cooperate, and what difference it makes to the creative process when the author being translated also happens to be a translator in the other direction.
Bio: Duncan Large is academic director of the British Centre for Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia. He is professor of European literature and translation at UEA, and honorary professor of modern languages and translation at the University of Nottingham. He taught previously at the Universities of Oxford, Paris III (Sorbonne Nouvelle), Dublin (Trinity College) and Swansea.
Bio: Daniel Hahn is a writer, editor and translator with sixty-something books to his name. His work has won him the International Dublin Literary Award, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Blue Peter Book Award, and been shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize, among others. He is a past chair of the Society of Authors, and on the board of a number of organisations that work with literature and free speech.
Concept: Translation for Non-Translators
2019 Man Booker International Prize winner (Jokha al-Harthi’s Celestial Bodies), Marilyn Booth holds the Khalid bin Abdallah Al Saud Chair for the Study of the Contemporary Arab World, Oriental Institute and Magdalen College, Oxford University. In 2014-15 she was Senior Humanities Research Fellow, New York University Abu Dhabi and before that, Iraq Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Her most recent scholarly books are Classes of Ladies of Cloistered Spaces: Writing Feminist History in fin-de-siècle Egypt (Edinburgh, 2015); and, as sole editor, Migrating Texts: Circulating Trnaslations around the Ottoman Mediterranean (Edinburgh, 2019). She is completing a monograph on Zaynab Fawwaz, early Arab feminisms and gender polemics, and she also writes on 19th-century Arabic fiction, conduct literature, and translation historically. She has translated many works of fiction from the Arabic, most recently The Penguin’s Song and No Road to Paradise, both by Lebanese novelist Hassan Daoud (City Lights Books, 2015; AUC Press, 2017), and Jokha al-Harthi’s Celestial Bodies (Sandstone Press, 2018), winner of the 2019 Man Booker International Prize. She is currently translating Huda Barakat’s Night Post, winner of the 2019 International Prize for Arabic Fiction.
Concept: Bringing the Source Language Inside. The masterclass discussed challenges in negotiating the cultural and historical distances between source text and host language. How should cultural explanation and historical context be handled without overloading the reader? Also, how does one retain or deploy terms and expressions from the source text in the translation without using apparatus such as footnotes or glossary? In particular, how might one introduce vernacular terms and artifacts, and specific cultural-regional references and expressions, without either exoticising the work or leaving the reader puzzled? A broader issue within this is Arabic’s ‘place’ not only within a linguistic-literary globalized marketplace, but also within (mis)understandings and antagonisms generated by international politics and a long history of imperial relations, and the resulting sensitivity of translating or not translating certain terms. Approaches and strategies will be illustrated with reference to the speaker’s recent translations from the Arabic, considering works by Hassan Daoud, Hoda Barakat, and Jokha al-Harthi.