News and Events
Life After Kafka, my translation of Magdaléna Platzová’s novel Život po Kafkovi, is slated for release from Bellevue Literary Press in August 2024. Says Joanna Hershon, author of The Outside of August and St. Ivo: “With Life After Kafka, Magdaléna Platzová has evoked a cosmopolitan storm of post–World War II emotion, an obsessive level of research, and a unique documentary-style attention that adds not only to the mystery of Franz Kafka, but to the scholarship of Kafka as well. This original, sophisticated novel bewitches and inspires.” Preorder it here.
My translation of an excerpt from Trump Card, the latest novel by Petra Hůlová, was published in the Winter/Spring 2024 issue of Gulf Coast magazine (vol. 36, no. 1).
November 28, I joined Petra Hůlová at the Trinity Centre for Literary and Cultural Translation, in Dublin, Ireland, for a discussion about The Movement, moderated by Dr. Jana Fischerova, from the Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies at Trinity College Dublin. Info and photographs here.
October 26, The Book of Prague: A City in Short Fiction, including my translation of the essay “Žižkovite,” by Patrik Banga, was published by Comma Press. Order it here.
October 24, my translation of Bianca Bellová’s novel The Lake, published by Parthian Books, was one of 16 titles longlisted for the seventh annual award of the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation.
September 29, as part of the English PEN International Translation Day program, Ambre Morvan, Lawrence Schimel, and I gave “an interactive talk exploring translations contracts – how to approach and negotiate them, how they are changing, and how best to know and protect translator rights.”
July 15, The Organist at St. Vitus Cathedral (1929), with intertitles translated by me, screened at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival with a live score by Maud Nelissen.
July 2, director Tomáš Klein’s screen adaptation of the Jáchym Topol novel Citlivý člověk (A Sensitive Person) had its world premiere at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, with subtitles by yours truly.
June 15, my translation of Bianca Bellová’s novel The Lake, published by Parthian Books, was named the winner of the 2023 EBRD Literature Prize during a ceremony at EBRD headquarters in London [video here]. The runners-up were Mister N by Najwa Barakat, translated from Arabic by Luke Leafgren and published by And Other Stories, and The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk, translated from Polish by Jennifer Croft and published by Fitzcarraldo Editions.
April 27, my translation of Bianca Bellová’s novel The Lake, published by Parthian Books, was named as one of three finalists for the 2023 EBRD Literature Prize. The winning book and two runners-up will be announced June 15, during the award ceremony at EBRD headquarters in London.
March 16, my translation of Bianca Bellová’s novel The Lake, published by Parthian Books, was named to the shortlist for the 2023 EBRD Literature Prize. Three finalists will be named in late April. The winning author and two runners-up, along with their translators, will be announced on June 15, at an award ceremony held at EBRD headquarters in London.
February 9, Jáchym Topol and I celebrated the UK release of my translation of his latest novel, A Sensitive Person, with critic and scholar Dr. Kathryn Murphy, at the Czech Centre in London.
February 7, at The Queen’s College, Oxford, I joined Queen’s Translation Exchange Translator-in-Residence Polly Barton for a conversation about the challenges and pleasures of literary translation. Afterward, Jáchym Topol and I had a discussion with Dr. Rajendra Chitnis of Oxford University, featuring readings from Topol’s novel Citlivý člověk and my newly published translation of it, A Sensitive Person. Read this exceptionally excellent write-up, by Josie Kucera, on the Translation Exchange blog.
November 14, Bianca Bellová and I appeared at the Bohemian National Hall in Manhattan for the New York launch of The Lake.
November 16, Bellová took part in European Literature Night 2022 at the Ukrainian Institute of America, featuring readings by authors from Austria, Czechia, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and Ukraine, as well as a panel on Peace and Literature. Bellová also appeared in several other North American cities: Toronto (Oct. 31), Ottawa (Nov. 3), Los Angeles (Nov. 8), and Chicago (Nov. 10).
October 10, Bianca Bellová and I appeared at the Anglo-American University Library for the Prague launch of The Lake, my translation of her award-winning novel Jezero. The reading was followed by a discussion and audience Q&A, moderated by Ian Willoughby of Radio Prague International. Photos here.
October 11, I took part in a panel discussion titled The Labors of Literary Translation. Three Czech translators (Martina Knápková, Mariana Machová, Petr Onufer) and I spoke about making a living and a life as a literary translator. Moderated by Mike Baugh, organized by Karolinum Press and the Institute of Translation Studies, the event was held at Hybernská 1036/3, in Prague 1. Transcript TK.
June 9, the Czech Centre London hosted an event celebrating publication of The Selected Writings of Jan Patočka: Care for the Soul, with 12 essays in my translation. The event featured the volume’s coeditor Erin Plunkett, from University of Hertfordshire, and the originator of the project, Graham Henderson, CEO of the Rimbaud and Verlaine Foundation.
June 2, I joined Authors Guild attorney Umair Kazi and Guild Council Member translator Julia Sanches for a webinar titled Negotiating Literary Translation Contracts: Tips From the Authors Guild. Literary Translation Model Contract and Commentary here. Watch the video here.
May 19, Bianca Bellová appeared in conversation with writer Glen James Brown at the Czech Embassy in London to launch my translation of her novel The Lake, published in April by Parthian Books. You can listen to their conversation, as well as readings from the novel, here.
April 21, in an event titled East European Writers on Environmental Catastrophe, Sean Gasper Bye and I spoke with Sal Robinson about our translations of Filip Springer’s History of a Disappearance and Bianca Bellová’s The Lake. The event was part of the 2022 Sant Jordi USA Festival of Books, Roses, and the Arts. Video here (roughly 1 hour).
March 28, Czech author Bianca Bellová and I discussed my new translation of her novel The Lake on the podcast Writers on Reading, hosted by Sophie Buchaillard and Jonathan Macho. Episode here.
February 15, in a session for the Northwest Translators and Interpreters Society, titled “Contracts for Book-length Works of Literary Translation,” Umair Kazi, Jessica Cohen, and I discussed the basics of literary translation contracts and how to negotiate them.
November 18, Edward Gauvin and I cohosted “How Do You Translate the 1000 Words Every Picture Is Worth?” part of a monthly series of translation clinics at the Center for Fiction, presented by the Cedilla & Co. translators’ collective. Video here.
October 17, New Czech Fiction: authors Petra Hůlová and Kateřina Tučková discussed their novels The Movement and Gerta with their English-language translators Alex Zucker and Véronique Firkusny. Video here.
October 10 at Litquake, Petra Hůlová appeared in conversation with author Kit Fan and moderator Adam Dalva in an event titled Feminist Dystopia and the Fall of Hong Kong: A World Editions Showcase. Video here.
August 26, Petra Hůlová and I read from her novel The Movement as part of a Women in Translation Month Reading Series organized by the PEN America Translation Committee, followed by Q&A. Full video here (our reading begins at 51:25, and we both speak briefly, during the Q&A, at 1:20:46).
April 15, the Authors Guild released its first ever Literary Translation Model Contract and Commentary, a project Jessica Cohen, Julia Sanches, and I brought to fruition with AG staff over a period of several years. The Model Contract, accessible free of charge on the Authors Guild website, “intended specifically as an aid to translators in negotiating changes to publishers’ standard contracts.”
March 18, Sora Kim-Russell and I cohosted “Where Does Translation End and Co-Translation Begin?” the third in a monthly series of translation clinics at the Center for Fiction, presented by the Cedilla & Co. translators’ collective. Video here.
October 12, Umair Kazi, Jessica Cohen, Julia Sanches and I led a session introducing the Authors Guild’s Model Contract for Literary Translation, at the 43rd annual conference of the American Literary Translators Association.
Also on October 12, I joined fellow members of the Cedilla & Co. translators’ collective in a session titled Reading: A Cedilla Bestiary.
In September, Primary Information published Women in Concrete Poetry: 1959–1979, including translations by me and Alta L. Price of poems by Bohumila Grögerová, written in a mixture of Czech, German, French, and, in one case, English. Order the volume here.
April 30, I had a chat with Irena Kovarova about the wacky murder-mystery parody Adela Hasn’t Had Supper Yet, featuring a carnivorous plant brought to life by animation genius Jan Švankmajer. Number two in the series Light Streaming, programmed by Irena for the Czech Center New York.
January 22, in New York, I moderated The Drug of Art: Ivan Blatný at 100, an evening celebrating the life and work of Czech avant-garde poet Ivan Blatný (1919–90). With Veronika Tuckerová, editor of The Drug of Art, published in 2007 by the Brooklyn-based Ugly Duckling Presse; writer and translator Anna Moschovakis; Ugly Duckling Presse publisher Matvei Yankelevich; poet and translator Mónica de la Torre; and Slavicist José Vergara.
January 13, World Editions announced that it has acquired world English rights to Stručné dějiny Hnutí / A Brief History of the Movement, by Petra Hůlová. I will be doing the translation, which is slated for publication in 2021.
November 8, 9, and 10, 2019, at ALTA42, the annual conference of the American Literary Translators Association, I moderated a three-part workshop titled “Don’t Just Sign on the Dotted Line: Understanding and Negotiating Book Contracts.” In Parts One and Two, translators Julia Sanches, Allison Markin Powell, Daniel Hahn and I discussed key provisions of model contracts from the Authors Guild (US), PEN America Translation Committee, and Society of Authors (UK), and compared them to terms seen in contracts from a range of publishers. In Part Three, we shared contracts from past projects and how we negotiated to achieve the terms we wanted.
November 6, 2019, my translation of Marek Šindelka’s “Open Letter to a Dog” was published online at Passa Porta magazine.
September 27, 2019, I took part in a roundtable and reading, “Bringing the Literatures of East Central Europe to English-speaking Readers,” as part of the celebration of National Translation Month, at Columbia University’ East Central European Center, in Manhattan. Video: Part 1, Part 2.
September 18, 2019, I was at Community Bookstore, in Brooklyn, with fellow members of the Cedilla & Co. collective, reading from projects by women authors in translation. I read an excerpt from Lucie Faulerová’s 2017 debut novel, Dust Collectors.
August 22, 2019, Jenny Wang Medina and I moderated a Women in Translation Month reading and discussion with women translators of women writers working in Turkish, Italian, and Arabic: Sevinç Türkkan (The Stone Building and Other Places, by Aslı Erdoğan); Ann Goldstein and Jenny McPhee (Neapolitan Chronicles, by Anna Maria Ortese); and Inea Bushnaq (Pearls on a Branch, by Najla Jraissaty Khoury). The event, organized under the aegis of the PEN America Translation Committee, was held at McNally Jackson Books, on Prince Street in Manhattan. It was standing room only. Read a write-up, “Translation and Human Rights,” by author and translator Lyn Miller-Lachmann, here.
August 2–9, 2019, the Metrograph cinema in NYC screened a retrospective of work by the Czechoslovak New Wave director Juraj Herz, including three movies I created new subtitles for: Sign of Cancer, Oil Lamps, and Ferat Vampire. Info on Herz and his films can be found on the website of Comeback Company, which produced the retrospective. Movie descriptions at metrograph.com.
Translation Review, in issue 103 (April 2019), published a wide-ranging conversation between me and Jonathan Becker. [paywall]
In Other Words issue 53, Summer 2019, focusing on the theme of Translation and Community, carried an interview I conducted with Sean Bye and Julia Sanches, cofounders of the Cedilla & Co. translators’ collective.
April 28, 2019, I read at KGB Bar in Manhattan, in the latest installment of the PEN America Translation Committee’s Reading Series, focused on works in progress. I read from my translation in progress of Jáchym Topol’s 2017 novel Citlivý člověk (in English tentatively titled A Sensitive Person).
March 22, 2019, at Carnegie Hall, the American Symphony Orchestra presented a musical performance of Bohuslav Martinů’s 1938 operatic masterpiece Julietta aneb Snář (Juliette, or A Dreambook), based on the surrealist French play by Georges Neveux Juliette ou la Clé des songes. The opera was sung in Czech, with the dialogue in English using my translation of the libretto. More information here.
March 19, 2019, I took part in a symposium titled Bohuslav Martinů’s Opera Julietta in Context, including the performance of an excerpt of the opera, at the Bohemian National Hall, organized by NYU Professor of Music Michael Beckerman. Details here.
March 11, 2019, Radio Prague aired an interview with me, about “[my] time in Prague in the early 1990s, [my] long relationships with authors and [my] criteria for choosing projects.”
February 26, 2019, I gave a reading from my translation in progress of the 1939 poem “Mluvící pásmo” (“Talking Zone”) to complement the talk “Lost in America: Avant-garde Writer Milada Součková (1899–1983),” by Czech scholar Zuzana Říhová at the Bohemian National Hall, in Manhattan. The event was presented by the New York Chapter of SVU, the Czechoslovak Society of Arts & Sciences.
February 21, 2019, my translation of Jáchym Topol’s “It’s Punk to Be Eastern European” was published online at Music & Literature.
In November 2018, issue no. 5 of Apofenie, on contemporary Czech fiction, featured work by five authors and four translators, including my translation from the opening of Lucie Faulerová’s 2017 debut novel, Dust Collectors.
Also in November, the online platform of Harlequin Creature, a not-for-profit small press imprint founded by meghan forbes, featured my translation of entries from Zuzana Fuksová’s 2016 literary debut, I Feel Like Ulrike Meinhof: Statuses and Tweets.
November 2, 2018, I read with the translators’ collective Cedilla & Co. at the Monroe County Public Library, in Bloomington, Indiana. The event was held as part of the 41st annual conference of the American Literary Translators Association. Joining me were fellow Cedilla members Sean Gasper Bye, Elisabeth Jaquette, Alta Price, Julia Sanches, and Jeremy Tiang. I read from my translation of an excerpt from Lucie Faulerová’s 2017 debut novel, Lapači prachu / Dust Collectors, soon to appear in the online literary journal Apofenie.
September 27, 2018, I took part in two discussions—“The Politics and Advocacy of Translation” and “Paths Toward Translation”—during the Center for the Art of Translation’s second annual Day of Translation, presented with the Alan Cheuse International Writers Center, on the George Mason University campus in Fairfax, VA. Full schedule of the day’s events here.
Two plays I translated were performed during the Václav Havel Library Foundation’s Rehearsal for Truth Theater Festival, September 25–30, 2018, at the Bohemian National Hall, in Manhattan. Details here.
Tuesday, September 25, 7:30 p.m.: Staged reading of my translation of Night Before the Funeral, by Natalie Kocab.
Wednesday, September 26, 8 p.m.: Performance of my translation of Debt, by Marek Hejduk.
August 16, 2018, Jenny Wang Medina and I co-organized an event with WORD Brooklyn to celebrate Women in Translation Month: “WORD Presents Get WiT Us! Women in Translation: A Reading and Discussion.”
June 20, 2018, I read selections from work by three Czech authors as part of the event 100 Years of Czech and Slovak Literature, presented by the New York chapter of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU) and the Consulate General of the Slovak Republic at the Bohemian National Hall, in Manhattan. Photos here, here, and here.
May 11, 2018, at Campus Hybernská in Prague, translator David Short and I sat down with David Vaughan for a conversation on the topic of “Exporting Czech Literature.” David Short was the winner of the 2018 Jiří Theiner Prize, awarded for the propagation of Czech literature abroad.
May 10, 2018, I appeared at the Shoah memorial Památník Ticha in Prague, to launch my translation of J. R. Pick’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The event was held as part of Svět Knihy, the Prague book fair. Celebrating the launch with me was Zuzana Justman, Pick’s sister, known for her work as a documentary filmmaker, with David Vaughan from Radio Prague moderating. Video here.
April 20, 2018, Petra Hůlová, author of Three Plastic Rooms, appeared in the PEN World Voices Festival, in New York, together with Georgi Gospodinov (Bulgaria) and Hwang Sok-yong (Korea).
April 20–25, 2018, The Puppet Master: The Complete Jiří Trnka, a series of 18 short and 6 feature-length animated films, screened at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Presented by FSLC and Comeback Company, it was the first chance for U.S. moviegoers to see a full retrospective of the works of Czech animation master Jiří Trnka, rivaled in output only by Walt Disney Studios. It now travels on to theaters around the U.S. and Canada. The series includes 11 newly subtitled works, which I was commissioned to do by Comeback Company.
April 15, 2018: “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, absurdity and black humor are the very tools of survival, a way through the nightmare. This powerful and moving book helps us make peace with, if not sense of, the unthinkable,” writes A. M. Bakalar in a review of my translation of J. R. Pick’s novella in the Los Angeles Review of Books. The book will be published in May. You can buy it online from the University of Chicago Press.
December 18: My translation of the Ludvík Vaculík feuilleton “On a Plane” appears in the January 2018 issue of Harper's Magazine, accompanying an article by Harper’s publisher John R. MacArthur, “Human Factor: How I learned the real meaning of dissent.” MacArthur, in an act of literary amends, writes about how a visit to Communist Czechoslovakia, in 1983, transformed his view of the relationship between politics and literature.
December 15: Results from the first-ever Authors Guild survey of literary translators in the U.S. were released today. This is a project I’ve been working on for over two years, so I’m very excited and grateful to see it come to fruition. Here is the press release on the Authors Guild website, with a link to the main findings and next steps for advocacy. Articles about the survey appeared in both Publishers Weekly and Publishing Perspectives, as well as CEATL News and Susan Bernofsky’s Translationista blog.
December 7, I gave a talk at the University of Bristol, titled “Hand Over Fist or Hand to Mouth? Translating Fiction in the U.S.” In the talk, I shared my experience as a translator of Czech literature and offered a sneak peek at results from the first-ever survey of working conditions for literary translators in the U.S., conducted by the Authors Guild in spring 2017.
November 30, I appeared in conversation with Jáchym Topol at the Václav Havel Library, in Prague.
November 21 saw the launch of my translation of the Petra Hůlová novel Three Plastic Rooms, at Waterstones Gower Street in London.
November 6: My translation of Magdaléna Platzová’s The Attempt was longlisted for the 2018 International DUBLIN Literary Award.
In May, my translation of the children’s story “Dagesh and Mappiq Are Friends,” by Jana Šrámková, appeared in Quest: Stories of Journeys From Around Europe, published by Alma Junior.
In fall 2017, I translated the play Debt, by Marek Hejduk, as well as notes by Vincenc Kramář on Picasso’s 1913 exhibition at the Thannhauser Gallery, for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art.
In 2016, I published three translations: Midway Upon the Journey of Our Life, by Josef Jedlička (Karolinum Press); Love Letter in Cuneiform, by Tomáš Zmeškal (Margellos World Republic of Letters at Yale University Press); and The Attempt, by Magdaléna Platzová (Bellevue Literary Press).
My translation of Heda Margolius Kovály’s Innocence; or, Murder on Steep Street was named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2015. Listen to Maureen Corrigan’s review for NPR here. Read the Wall Street Journal review here.
Reconstructing Atrocity Prevention, which I coedited with Sheri Rosenberg and Tibi Galis, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2015.
Read other translations of mine in Contemporary Czech Prose: Not Necessarily About Politics, the November 2014 issue of Words Without Borders, for which I also served as guest editor.
My 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.
My 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, published in 2014 by Open Letter Books.
Also in 2014, I was commissioned to create new subtitles for the digital restoration of Closely Watched Trains, the 1966 Oscar-winning film by Jiří Menzel, based on the Bohumil Hrabal novella.