Unearthing Erotic Genius: On Rut Hillarp and Swedish Modernism

“Rut Hillarp was born 100 years ago this past Friday. She is one of the most unfairly marginalized authors in Swedish literary history. It’s as if we refuse to allow ourselves to discover just how damned excellent a poet she is.” — Bernur, February 23, 2014.

“Her lyrical prose is fantastic: so beautiful, erotic, dark, perceptive and intense.” — Swedish novelist Therese Bohman on her female role models, Kulturkollo, 2014.


A photo posted by Saskia Vogel (@saskia.vogel) on

Some discoveries are almost too delicious to share. We see an author’s name (on the web, on a shelf) and we decide we must read them. There was something to that name (the way the letters looked together or the paper’s grain). From the first line, the words tumble into an order, tantalizing and new, but somehow familiar. An echo we’ve heard before. The words tangle with our thoughts, become inseparable, and we, the curious reader, become devotees. For a time, perhaps forever, we keep the name to ourselves, guarding it as a jealous lover would. But some names ask to be spoken aloud, written in emails and on scraps of note paper with the addendum “must read.” One of those names is Rut Hillarp.

23s04hillarp2__mngl_20110923ab5x004,kul_1.indd_6388Rut Hillarp—who was she? The year of her birth, 1914, seems so distant, but the year of her death, 2003, still feels like it was yesterday. Five years ago, The Gothenburg Post called her a grand dame of the women’s movement. Rut Hillarp—one of Sweden’s great, yet overlooked Modernists—turns those whom she touches into devotees: her readers, lovers, students and mentees. She is a cult figure, an antiquarian bookseller in Gothenburg told me after I had learned her name and embarked on a mission to possess each and every one of her books. As soon as his shop gets one of her books in (rarely), it sells. None were in stock.

My romance with Rut Hillarp began this past summer when the Berlin-based publisher Readux Books was looking for one more piece to complete their Sex series which was to be published at the end of 2015. Since Readux launched in 2013, the publisher, Amanda DeMarco, has let me scout Swedish stories for their short, small format books, which include contemporary fiction, rediscovered classics, and essays about cities. My translation of Malte Persson’s short story “Fantasy” was my second translation ever—part of a gamble to see if I could turn my ability to speak Swedish, my mother’s second mother tongue, into a career. When I want to feel official, I say I am their Swedish editor. Mostly, I like to call it nothing at all and think only of the special pleasure of reading for love and with purpose, for Amanda.

Erotic culture is a special interest of mine (academically, professionally), and as her deadline drew near I berated myself for still having found nothing. In a fit of frustration (inspiration?), I typed something like “forgotten Swedish eroticist” into Google, thinking that my chances of coming across Sweden’s Anaïs Nin—or anyone vaguely comparable—were slim to none. But there she was: poet, diarist, experimental filmmaker, photographer, teacher, and novelist. And her novels, four in total, are how I would like to introduce her to you here—Blodförmörkelse (Blood Eclipse, 1951), in particular, from which the English translation The Black Curve (Readux Books 2015) is taken. I am not the first to love her, apparently, but I suspect I am the first to have brought her into my mother tongue. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only published English-language translation of her work.

1455734309252When her debut novel Blood Eclipse arrived in the mail, I barely dared touch it. A slim, brittle volume from an antiquarian bookseller in Stockholm. One of two available for sale online. Self-published in 1951. Number 27 in an edition of 500, with one of 50 covers hand-painted by the author and signed to Nils Ferlin (the poet, I assume). It was love at first line. I let the sun burn my shoulders as I devoured her words on the balcony wearing white gloves, so as not to mar the stiff, yellowed pages.

The novel begins with a man’s reply to his female lover’s letter:


It’s true, I didn’t come. I never intended to.
And I can’t accept the discreet excuse you offered me in your letter.
I don’t believe you waited long enough for me . . . I asked for you to wait as a period of gestation during which your desires would consolidate, your emotions coagulate. Until now any man has been able to satisfy these desires in you, but after this waiting period, they will be devoted only to Man.
Because waiting shapes his story and gives him his reality . . .
Like hunger, waiting is creative. It rouses new senses and needs, and so it offers Man an infinitesimal keyboard and a palette with metaphysical resonance.
Waiting entices the desired man, and he comes more quickly when he is late than when he is on time.

It is tempting to make a case for Rut Hillarp as Sweden’s Anaïs Nin. In response to Anaïs Nin’s notoriety, she wondered in a 1951 letter if she too couldn’t do just as well. Indeed, they have a similar erotic project. Like Anaïs Nin, Rut Hillarp’s works trace a map of the psyche’s movements through love, lust, and desire. One could align elements of Hillarp’s life (including a connection to Paris and creative intercourse with renowned cultural figures of her time) with Nin’s own. Whereas Nin’s fame was helped along by who published her in English and the censorship trials that added that tantalizing element of the forbidden to her work and life, Birgitta Holm offers no comparable story of scandal in her 2011 biography Rut Hillarp: Poet och Erotiskt Geni. Hillarp was a celebrated writer who traveled the world, took the matter of having lovers and being a lover seriously, and for whom desire was a way of becoming more receptive to her environment. One could try to spin sensation from the threads of her life—her joy in photos from costume parties, the cancer that left her with only one breast, the men and women who she invited to stay at her home, her masochism, her suicide—but that would do a disservice to a heart that beats with a singular rhythm. Holm, her former student and close friend, calls her an “erotic genius.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 19.38.03

All Monsters Must Die: An Excursion to North Korea

poster-of-the-KimsIn late 2014, I spent a few months immersed in North Korea, translating Magnus Bärtås and Fredrik
Ekman’s All Monsters Must Die: An Excursion to North Korea into English.
da4cc5d9dd238a12d5b9b9e2b0bed598-w204@1xI loved everything about the book: the interwoven cultural and political histories (specifically: film history), the surreal reality the authors were navigating as part of a group trip through North Korea, the cultural and social history of North and South Korea and Japan. Yes, it’s about a high-profile kidnapping of two South Korean film legends, but it’s also a look at special effects on Godzilla…and the cultural lineage of Godzilla from Japan to NK to the US…and about how the dictator is created as a god/eternal icon, drawing from art history, world literature, and more.
Read an excerpt about a strange night in a (fake?) village and “culture shock” as a medical diagnosis at Literary Hub, and if you’re into reviews, here’s a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and a great review from the Minneapolis Star Tribune. And here’s a taste of Pulgasari…Godzilla’s brother from another mother?


Weird Sex with Readux (You’re invited. 21 October.)

Invite Series 6

When Readux Books publisher Amanda DeMarco told me about their upcoming onex series, I had to submit something. Ideally a forgotten or little known Swedish eroticist or a writer deeply engaging with sex and power. Someone like Else Jersualem, whose 1908 novel The Red House examines prostitution and moral hypocrisy in Vienna through the eyes of a woman who grew up in brothels. It was a smash hit then, but she has since slipped into relative obscurity. I revisited The Red House, worried that my brittle copies of the novel and its 1932 English translation would turn to dust in my hands. The novel is sumptuous and political, but not sexy. And I wanted to find something that had never been translated before. Amanda’s deadline was looming. Little known eroticists don’t just fall from the sky…usually.

Where to start my search? I typed “forgotten Swedish eroticist” into Google.  And there she was. Rut Hillarp. Sweden’s Anaïs Nin. Pictured below.



23s04hillarp2__mngl_20110923ab5x004,kul_1.indd_6388I tracked down a copy of her first novel online (Blood Eclipse, 1951), one of only two for sale at the time, and when the brittle book arrived in the post, it was love at first sight. The cover was hand-painted by Hillarp herself: a visual representation of the book’s central images: the black and the red curve. It was one of 50 hand-painted covers of a print-run of 500. Her lyrical exploration of masochism blew me away with its whirling imagery and meditations on the origins of romance. We follow a writer as she engages in a complicated power play with a composer, in and out of the bedroom. It has some of those 50 shades and delves deep into the psyche of a female masochist.


66I’m not sure how to describe how special it feels to bring Rut Hillarp into English for (as best I know) the first time ever. I’m immensely grateful to Amanda for taking a chance on the sample I sent her and to Andreas Hillarp for giving us permission to publish his aunt’s work in English.

Now, come celebrate the publication of The Black Curve, a standalone extract of Hillarp’s debut novel. I’m thrilled to be taking the stage with Joanna Walsh. I haven’t been able to stop talking about Grow a Pair: 9 1/2 Fairytales about Sex. It begins: “A girl passed a penis-bush growing in someone else’s garden, and picked a ripe dick because she couldn’t resist it.” Novelist Ryan Ruby will also be presenting his translation of a deliciously dirty literary tale with a twist by Grégoire Bouillier.

Shop the series here.






The Quietus!

A big thanks to Jen Calleja, Amanda DeMarco, Karl Smith for making this happen! Here’s the start of The Quietus interview. Read on, lovelies.

This month’s column swings the focus to the unsung hero – the literary translator – but just as much on contemporary Swedish literature and inventive ways of publishing literature in translation. (Portrait of Saskia Vogel by Richard Phœnix)


This month I read a book in translation every day for a fortnight. It might sound impressive/obsessive, but – as Berlin-based publisher Readux brings out single or groups of very short stories and essays, mostly in translation from German, French and Swedish in pocket-sized books that can be read in one sitting – it was close to effortless.


When founder and publisher Amanda DeMarco started planning Readux she was twenty-six and funding the project herself, so publishing four short books (of around 5-10,000 words) three times a year rather than full-length books was a ‘no-brainer’, though she actually regards Readux as ‘a magazine – incognito, exploded’.

Instead of telling you about all of the books – from Felicitas Hoppe’s absurdist nightmares, to Roger Caillois’ surrealist piece of psychogeography, to the revelatory story of a British poet becoming pen pals with an incarcerated Czech poet – I wanted to focus on Readux’s Swedish Series: not just because their short-form mini-book format is based on the Swedish publisher Novellix, who published the stories in Swedish, but because the three stories in this set were translated by the same person. They just so happened to also be the translator of another text that had recently made a real impression on me.

The trio of short stories that make up the Swedish Series was selected and translated by Saskia Vogel. Amanda Svensson’s Where the Hollyhocks Come From (excerpted above) was the first Readux book I read, drawing me in with the strangely menacing pink ice-cream on its cover.

It charts a young man’s melancholy liaisons with a Lolita-like girl in the countryside of southern Sweden and comes to a quietly traumatic conclusion. The story’s pull and that the girl’s looping speech snaps together so satisfyingly with the man’s preoccupied narration left behind the sense that this was translation at its best.

The narrator of Malte Persson’s Fantasy is a self-absorbed artist who infiltrates the team behind a failed fantasy film in an attempt to make a piece about their egotistical existences detached from real life; at times recognising her own hypocritical denial of how close she is to her subjects, her own self-importance and who’s using who. In The Lesson by Cilla Naumann, the most tense and ambiguous of the stories, a teacher’s inexplicable hate for a new pupil causes his control to slowly slip and has the threat of violence permanently hovering on the horizon.


I had come across Saskia a few weeks before when I read her translation of this excerpt from Pojkarna or The Boys by Jessica Schiefauer on the great platform Words Without Borders, and was left with a mournful wish that I had had the chance to read it when I was younger. The extract left a mark and the text itself was popping and as lively as the young girls in the story. Then I read the Swedish series and recognised Saskia’s name; this recognition felt like something to celebrate.

Literary translation is all too rarely considered an art, rather something more like an administrative task. It is part science, part mystery. It is engaged and impressive creative writing in its own right, and hopefully one day that will go without saying. Until then, I want to refract this idea through the prism of Saskia Vogel.

Saskia learned Swedish in her early teens when she moved from Los Angeles to Gothenburg to attend high school and went on to study English and film, followed by Masters degrees in creative writing and comparative literature in both the UK and the US. Her first editorial job was at AVN, a publisher’s weekly for the adult entertainment industry, but wanting to return to literature she found a job at Granta magazine in London, running their global events, PR and promotions. Now based in Berlin, she translates Swedish literature, is a writer in her own right, and is the co-founder and director of strategic communications at Dialogue Berlin.


Read the rest of this in The Quietus.

from “The Boys”

Liten Momo

Here’s an extract from Jessica Schiefauer’s young adult novel Pojkarna (The Boys). It was originally published by Words Without Borders. There’s a movie of the book coming out next year and the picture above was taken on-set by Karolina Pajak. Now, onward to masquerades and magical flowers…

It was a balmy night, spring had started to slip into early summer, the trees’ leaves were thick and bright green. We didn’t speak, we only looked each other in the eyes and received the paper bags that Momo ceremoniously handed to us. And when I opened my bag in Bella’s room, my heart started beating so fast it hammered in my ears.

She had made me a tiger costume. There was a hooded coat and a pair of elbow-length gloves, the tip of each finger adorned with a golden claw. There was no mask, no plaster to hide my face, but she had taken a thin nylon stocking and painted it with dark-brown filigree. I pulled the stocking over my face and lifted the hood onto my head. Then I looked in the mirror.

A shriek escaped from me and hit the glass, it bounced sharply between the walls of the room. I couldn’t get a proper look until it died away. Shere Khan shimmered in the mirror. He glared at me, yellow eyes glowing, his face dark and threatening. The broad coat and hood concealed my usual mannerisms and when I moved, he moved too, but not like a girl with a pimpled back and a body full of worry. He moved like a king, and we were one and the same, he and I.

Yes, Momo had really outdone herself. As I walked toward the garden with the weight of the coat upon me, I realized that she had planned this evening down to every last detail. Lanterns illuminated the greenhouse and apparently she had managed to get hold of a large stereo because pounding drums and dark rhythms spilled from the greenhouse, an undulating melody that made me think of gold and glinting eyes. She greeted us inside the greenhouse where the party was to take place, and as I came closer I saw an explorer standing by the wooden table, sporting a white safari hat and a waxed mustache. I glimpsed the mysterious flower’s head through the doorway, it nodded gently as if she were craning her neck to get a good look at us. The terrace door opened and the explorer laughed with delight as a silverback entered. He supported his steps with his knuckles and when he was very close he unleashed a howl, and I couldn’t help but join in on the laughter.

The explorer bowed, and with a sweep of his gloved hand he gestured to the table.

“Welcome to the tropics, my friends. Dinner is served.”

It was a clear, starry night. We lay on the lawn outside the greenhouse, resting our heads on each other’s stomachs. Momo had taken off her safari hat, her hair rippled over my tiger-chest. The flowers around us had opened up, their soft interiors glowing in the darkness. She looked at us through the doorway, her face was open and smooth and it made me think of butterflies, how their pointy proboscises pierced sacs of nectar, how they sucked it in. I propped myself up on my elbow and raised my glass of tea with a practiced gesture.

“Would it please the gentlemen to add some true drops to the brew?”

I moved Momo’s head off my stomach. She looked up with surprise when I wrapped my coat around me, walked up to the flower and started inspecting the teeming vessels in the center of its head. They were like small blisters protected by petals, straining and aching and filled with something that had to get out.

Bella, in her unwieldy gorilla costume, stood up. She had been in high spirits the whole night, alternating between her gorilla howl and howling laughter, and now she was so hoarse and tired that she swayed as she made her way to the greenhouse.

“Oh yes! New life will course through our bodies, and the stars will take our secrets to the grave!”

Then Momo giggled. She couldn’t help it with Bella striding so comically across the flagstones. The pants of the gorilla costume had hitched themselves up, revealing the tube socks she was wearing. But Bella gave her a stern look and Momo got hold of herself and said:

“Let us make a pact, gentlemen. Let us brew a Magical Potion and drink together. Let us never speak of our drink to any mortal, whatever may come!”

And as she spoke, she raised her glass of tea to the heavens, and we raised ours as well. Bella skipped forward toward me and carefully pulled the flower’s head down.

“Yes, I swear, I swear!”

We swore our oaths and I pierced one of the small blisters with the claw of my index finger. Thick nectar seeped out.

One drop for each glass.

We toasted. Then we gulped the tea down because suddenly it tasted irresistibly sweet and spicy. And when we looked up from our glasses, when we looked at each other’s faces, a deep silence fell over us.
Read the rest of the extract here: http://wordswithoutborders.org/article/from-the-boys#ixzz3MH7EHyXW

Yawn No More: Americans and the Market for Foreign Fiction

As proven by the conversations at BookExpo America, American publishers, editors and readers may finally be coming around to embracing more foreign literature. Reposted from Publishing Perspectives.

By Saskia Vogel

Nose-guard. Knouse-gourd. Knausgaard. Karl Ove Knausgaard’s name was on everyone’s lips. Some were uncertain how it should be pronounced and said as much, other simply raved about the Norwegian author and his six-part autobiographical novel. From the evening cocktail parties with a view that stretched out to the Statue of Liberty to the climate-controlled floor at BookExpo America (BEA), Knausgaard inevitably would be mentioned. Down two floors in the green-glass giant that is the Jacob K Javits Convention Center, those who were most probably most heartened by the success of Knausgaard were gathered for the annual BEA Global Market Forum, this year focused on books in translation.

The Seeds of the Translation Boom in 9/11

Organized by BEA’s director of international affairs, Rüdiger Wischenbart, the program ranged from a seminar on funding programs available from a selection of European and Middle Eastern countries to discoverability and finding readers for new digital works.

Czech author Mariusz Szczgiel

To name of few of those on stage during the day: the immensely charming Polish writer Mariusz Szczgiel, author ofGottland, who compared writing a story to the art of strip tease; Susan Bernofsky, author, translator and Director of Literary Translation at Columbia University; and Baruch College associate professor Esther Allen, referred to by translator Antonia Lloyd Jones in the same breath as the UK’s Daniel Hahn, Ros Schwartz and Maureen Freely in terms of their excellence and determination in advocating on behalf of translators and works in translation; Joël Dicker, whose The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is set to be as unmissable as Knaugaard; Ahmed Al Amri, the director of the Sharjah International Book Fair, whose epic translation funding scheme is in part responsible for the rapid rise of the profile of the festival; Michael Z. Wise, co founder of New Vessel press; and a host of editors including Carol Brown Janeway of Knopf, which is having its centenary next year.

Janeway shared a short history of how Knopf came to be a leading publisher of translation. She recalls a conversation she had with founder Alfred A. Knopf. She once asked him how the company came to publish so much in translation, and Knopf began his answer simply: “Anti-semitism.” He proceeded to tell her how when he was starting out American authors preferred not to be published by a Jewish publisher, so Knopf turned its eyes to the Europeans. She also dispelled the notion that TS Eliot’s Cats was the main title filling Faber’s coffers. In fact, she said, for a long time a book on goat husbandry was the backlist bestseller.

The anecdote about how Knopf came to publish quite so much in translation relates back to another point brought up during the first panel: that in the years that followed 9/11, the political climate was the soil for the seeds that have led to the blossoming of translated work today. Susan Harris, editorial director of Words Without Borders (which turned ten last year) noted, “In the US, we know so much of the world through a political prism. Our interest is in publishing work from parts of the world that aren’t well-known.” Like countries from the “Axis of Evil,” as the Bush administration categorized them. “You might call it a first world problem,” Harris said of the identified need for more books in

Susan Harris of Words Without Borders

translation. “But it’s a first world problem that inhibits us from understanding the rest of the world.” So far, the online only publication that gets around 600,000 hits per year has published work in over 101 languages, produced 7 anthologies and know of 16 books that were signed on the back of excerpts being published on the website.

Peter Kaufmann, coordinator of Read Russia, was also on this first panel and was lauded by Wischenbart for running the program with an admirable range of activities and a strong continuity in ongoing efforts, including symposia, events, the Read Russia Annual Prize for Russian Literary Translation and translation grants. The program has a 20-year plan, and is on course to creating a new wave with Russian literature in translation. Kaufman stated that when he took on the job, he was clear that Read Russia would have to be free from political influence and that it could only succeed if the strategy was fully integrated with the digital age, in terms of content, data and building communities.

This brings us to the second panel about discoverability and finding readers for new works digitally. The conversation on this panel quickly turned to pricing and money. Javier Celaya, CEO of dosdoce.com, said, “Fixed pricing doesn’t work in the digital age. In analog world it protected the market.” He reminded us that pricing is one way to be dynamic in the market and advocated for dynamic pricing that fluctuated with supply and demand. After discussing the Net Book Agreement, Susie Nicklin asked Asymptote journal’s assistant managing editor Eric Becker about their volunteer-based publishing model, stating that editors and contributors do it for love, but surely the aim of all is to get paid, and then elaborated on the recent debate among UK writers about how they are being remunerated and the backlash against doing author appearances for free. Her question raised an interesting point.

With some publications sharing profits in lieu of a set fee for contributors to a number of book publishers trying out subscription models, in the vein of And Other Stories, to some publishers offering higher royalty rates to translators again in lieu of a set fee, how critical of these alternative models of monetization should we be? Asymptote, like Words Without Borders and new ebook publisher Frisch and Co, is a discovery platform for new writers in translation and new translators, they are all aware of the bottom line. But like the music industry had to evolve with changing content delivery models and the rise in piracy, publishing of course will have to adapt as well. Connu, Readux Books, Novellix, Deep Vellum, New Vessel Press, Restless Books are just a few new publishers in the US and Europe that are platforms of discovery and have an indie spirit. We’re still finding our comfort zone with digital content delivery, pricing structures and all the rest, not to mention the industry is still developing anti-bodies to Amazon. The ecosystem of publishing will achieve balance again. There is too much passion, creativity and intelligence in play for it not to.

Becker lamented the shrinking of space for intellectual debate, and Nicklin added that she’s noticed in the circles she runs in, people aren’t all reading the same books anymore. Everyone seems to have their own canon. In this light, these many discovery platforms seem more and more vital. Perhaps stories themselves are taking the place that this shrinking space has left open. Perhaps we must re-conceive the shared experience of literature, and look to technology, the media and book marketers to see how they are innovating in the current climate.

Ahmed Al Ameri of the Sharjah International Book Fair

For example, Sharjah’s al Amri pointed out that ebooks in the Arab word haven’t been well-supported and faced problems due to piracy, but now companies in the Middle East are creating their own ebook solutions. During the day one panelists predicted a rise in micro marketing as a result of the Hachette-Amazon contract dispute. Susan Bernofsky reminded the audience that change will also come from technologies that we don’t yet know of. Riky Stock, the director of the German Book Office said, “The future has already begun.” She added that with all the digital possibilities for communication and discovery, “getting back to personal meetings” has become increasingly important.

Foreign Fiction Viable in the US After All

The panel entitled “Successful Insights from Translators and Editors” returned to the theme of the digital age and discovering new work. Moderator Esther Allen kicked off the discussed by citing a New York Times article from July 2003 with the headline “America Yawns at Foreign Fiction.” The article argues that literature in translation is just not viable.

In the 2003 article, writer Stephen Kinzer wrote: “We’re the clogged artery that prevents authors from reaching readers anywhere outside their own country.” And continued: “It’s a great paradox of American life that on the one hand we feel very cosmopolitan, with Mexican restaurants and cab drivers who speak Swahili, and we feel that we inhabit a mind-boggling multicultural universe, but at the end of the day, it breaks down to different ways of being American.’’

Though English is seen as a gateway language, it’s still often one of the last languages that foreign-language books are brought into, including Stieg Larsson’s mega-success. An increase in translations between European countries was also noted during the day.

Not so anymore, was the point of the day and the opinion of booksellers, agents and publishers across the fair. Maria Campbell, president of Maria B. Campbell Associates, has observed that sample translations are getting better and the mechanisms for discovering work in translation have improved, along with publishers and readers being more adventurous, looking “everywhere from Portugal to Zambia” for new voices. Campbell seen an increase in submissions from Taiwan and asserted that it’s key for authors to participate in finding a good translator for their work. She cited the recently announced merger of Spanish-language super agent Carmen Balcells’s agency with The Wiley Agency as showing that there is a “real belief in having an international base.” “Now everyone in literary circles is talking about Knausgaard,” she said.

Author Marcos Giralt Torrente, author of The End of Love who now has three books out in English after years of having none echoed Campbell’s note about the business being about people. “I don’t think often of digital things, I think of physical translators. [Authors and translators] need time [to do our work], and time is bought with money,” he said.

Anthony Shugaar, translator, co-founder of Paraculture Inc, and critic, said that he still sees an amazing resistance to stories that don’t fit into the cliches of a country and identifies a tidal shift in interest in translation around 2007 when he started working for Europa Editions.

Penguin editor John Siciliano noted popular media’s rising interest in translation as well. He’s recently received two interview requests from Entertainment Weeklyabout translated work: around the death of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and on Dicker’s The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. He noted that the first Turkish classic that he published received a full-page review in the New York Times Book Review, the first time in his eight years at Penguin that this has happened. Returning to the question of whether translated literature is commercially viable, Siciliano said that almost all of his books have made money, and he’s watching Dicker’s Quebert Affair to see how it will do. He feels it has strong commercial potential.

Steps to Success: Nurturing Talent, Meeting People, Finding Funding

Susan Bernofsky

In “What Editors Need to Know: Successful Translations in English,” Susan Bernofsky has noted a rise in incorporating translation into MFA programs in the US. In terms of a talent pool, editors should be seeing more capable translators appearing on their radars. Bernofksy noted that when she started translating 30 years ago, her high school German teacher was her main resource for translation education, and that teacher mostly was concerned with semantics. “Editors are in a great positions to train translators,” she added. “But they shouldn’t have to.” Hopefully, this will help resolve the kind of problem that al Amri expressed: they couldn’t find a translator to work on a translation between Arabic and Thai, and so they had to first have the book translated into English. “Translators and editors are what is most important in the future,” he said.

Marleen Seegers of 2 Seas Agency noted a rise in fellowships for editors and ensures that her agency isn’t only an agency, but a resource for all matters of translation including grant listings and international tax issues.

The day wrapped up with a informational session featuring representatives fromHispa Books, The Romanian Cultural InstituteRead RussiaSharjah International Book Fair, the Italian Trade Commission, the NextPage Foundation in Sofia and the Spanish Ministry of Culture (whose new funding cycle will opens this month and is accepting application for two months), all outlining their current grant programs, information that can be accessed on their websites.

What each panel circled back to was the importance of people gathering, meeting, talking and serendipity in the discovery process. Nothing can replace the human element. Though translators may be early adopters of technology, polling their Facebook friends and forums to find the perfect solution to an elusive phrase, we are still figuring out where technology will take us, and that solution to pricing structures and more may unfold as the technologies evolve. And that moment we worried that Google Translate would take literary translators’ jobs? File that away with Y2K.

Looking ahead to 2015: BEA’s guest of honor will be China and they’re preparing a full showcase of seminars, dialogues between Chinese and American authors, and are exploring the ideas of exhibitions and films.

Granta Podcast: Lina Wolff

Lina Wolff ©Håkan Sandbring / sandbring.se©Håkan Sandbring/sandbring.se

‘I think in the beginning it was a crisis. I started to write because I felt the need to fit in, and not be an outsider… I have felt bound to an outsideness and an otherness.’

I was wondering where-oh-where this podcast had gone. Its arrival on Granta.com completely slipped past me amidst the whirling waltzes of late. I had the honor of translating Lina Wolff‘s short story “Nuestra Señora de la Asunción” for Granta 124: TravelWolff writes in Swedish, but this story and her debut novel Bret Easton Ellis and the Other Dogs are both set in Spain. When she came to London for the launch of the Travel issue this summer, we talked about the tension between a rational way of being and a magical way of thinking, Lorca, Dante, literary travellers and their guides, irrationality and the artistic temperament.

Granta 124: Travel: The July Launch (and my translation)

945657_10151560250264055_54636770_nGranta 124: Travel is launching in London, New York and San Francisco this July. I’m particularly looking forward to this launch because Lina Wolff will be in town., Not only is she an incredible author, but I’ve had the honor of bringing her work into English. Come out and celebrate the new issue and meet Lina.

Liars’ League Presents Granta 124: Travel
16 July, doors at 6.30 p.m., event at 7 p.m., The Betsey Trotwood, 56 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3BL. £7, tickets include a copy of Granta 124. Tickets are only available at the door. RSVP to events@granta.com to reserve your place.

Travel: an encounter between a person and a place. From a river in the South Sudan to a Bulgarian forest, the Liars’ League, a live storytelling salon, reads new stories from Granta 124. Swedish author Lina Wolff, whose English-language debut is in ‘Travel’, joins us for the second half of the salon for a reading and conversation with translator Saskia Vogel.

The London Launch
17 July, 6.30 p.m., Foyles, 113 – 119 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0EB. £3. Please book via foyles.co.uk/events.

Join Robert Macfarlane and Lina Wolff for readings and conversation with Granta editors launch the new issue. A drink reception will follow.

1012117_10152908966025258_1412679681_nPS Now that it’s in print, it’s for real, for real. The novel is coming….