Alex Zucker

Translator from Czech

Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

Alex Zucker is an award-winning translator of Czech literature. He also works in editing and nonprofit communications, and currently serves as cochair of the PEN America Translation Committee.

His latest translation is out now from Soho Press: Innocence; or, Murder on Steep Street, a novel by Heda Margolius Kovály. Read the opening of Chapter 1 here. Listen to Maureen Corrigan’s review for NPR here. Read the Wall Street Journal’s review here.

Reconstructing Atrocity Prevention, coedited by Alex with Sheri Rosenberg and Tibi Galis, was published by Cambridge University Press in September.

Listen to Alex talk about the business of literary translation on the Three Percent podcast, with Chad Post of Open Letter and Tom Roberge of New Directions and Albertine Books, here. Read the transcript here.

Read other recent translations by Alex in Contemporary Czech Prose: Not Necessarily About Politics, the November 2014 issue of Words Without Borders, for which he also served as guest editor.

His translation of Jáchym Topol’s The Devil’s Workshop (2013, Portobello Books) was nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. In addition it won an English PEN Award for Writing in Translation, the Typographical Translation Award, and was named to the Fiction Longlist for the Best Translated Book Award.

Alex’s essay “O Pioneer! Michael Henry Heim and the Politics of Czech Literature in English Translation” appeared in The Man Between: Michael Henry Heim and a Life in Translation, eds. Esther Allen, Sean Cotter, and Russell Scott Valentino, published in 2014 by Open Letter Books.

Also in 2014, Alex was commissioned to create new subtitles for the digitally restored version of Closely Watched Trains, the 1966 classic based on the Bohumil Hrabal novella, which premiered at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.

His forthcoming translations include the novels Love Letter in Cuneiform by Tomáš Zmeškal (Margellos World Republic of Letters at Yale University Press), Midway Upon the Journey of Our Life by Josef Jedlička (Karolinum Press), and The Attempt by Magdaléna Platzová (Bellevue Literary Press).

He lives and works in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Selected Works

“. . . a book sure to dazzle and please a great many readers.” – WALL STREET JOURNAL
“. . . should help to cement Jáchym Topol’s reputation as one of the most original and compelling European voices at work today.”
Times Literary Supplement
“. . . a gleeful skewering of the Czech national character and a character-rich, dialogue-sassy send-up colored by a lingering Communist legacy.”
Publishers Weekly
“. . . an acutely observed account — compelling despite its grimness — of the lives of its semi-nomadic subjects.”
Times Literary Supplement