Thursday, December 18, 2008

How to Start As a Literary Translator?

Linkedin [] has a number of groups of which I am a member. So, there is the American Translators Association (ATA) group too. Now, I'm a member of ATA too. A translator colleague posted a question about 'how to get involved as a literary translator'. My response was as follows:

I have been a published literary translator and I have also won a national award for translating a short story. I'm in India, so, my languages and my settings are different. However, you should start looking at important literary journals in your languages and you should also start looking at established authors in your languages. The next thing you need to do is to find out where your true expertise lies--it could be poetry or fiction. Usually, I have observed that there are some people who are good at translating poetry, while there are others who are good at fiction. I haven't seen someone who was excellent in both genres. Drama can be a different ball game.

You might like to look at American Literary Translators Association, ALTA. For inspiration, you might like to look at the CV of Gregory Rabassa. It seems that Gregory Rabassa is the literary translator of our generation like Constance Garnett was with the Russian classics few decades ago. I could you details of various literary journals which might like to publish translations.

It might be very interesting to learn about two important people [theorists as well as translators] in this field--Lawrence Venuti and Tim Parks. You might like to take up an MLA membership
[ ]. I'm a member there.

You might also like to check out the University of East Anglia because they have a very reputed literary translation center there and they give out the Charles Wallace Trust Scholarship as Translator in Residence there, which is administered by the British Council in India.

I am sure this isn't bad for a start. Best wishes.

Roomy Naqvy

Currently, editor of Language Tech News, ATA's LTD newsletter.
Assistant Professor, translator, blogger.

I am sure I could add few more details now. So, if anyone is interested in starting out as a literary translator, I could mentor them.


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