Brief News

I realized it’s been a while, so I thought I would provide a little update.

My transformative translation of Kipling’s “If” via André Maurois’ French translation – titled “If – A Counterattack” – is up in issue 24 of Drunken Boat, which has a special Outranspo (and Paraoutranspo) feature. It’s a reponse to the translation conundrum I faced when bringing the poem back into English while translating One Hundred Twenty-One Days.

I’m still working on my dissertation, and as of Friday I am officially ABD (all but dissertation).

I’ve gotten involved with the newly formed UNC Translation Collective. It’s exciting to have found a community of aspiring translators here in North Carolina.

I was longlisted for the 2017 PEN America Translation Prize, which was an unexpected honor.

I’m still working on the Mademoiselle Haas stories a little at a time, mainly when I’m tired of dissertating.

More Reviews of 121 Days & My First Interview

Since One Hundred Twenty-One Days came out, my husband and I have moved out of our rental house in upstate New York and have headed towards a new home in Raleigh in a roundabout way, stopping to see family in Michigan, standing as a bridesmaid (me) in a friend’s wedding in Tennessee, and attending a teachers’ conference in Texas (him) as well as to visit some dear friends there. (Or rather here, since I’m still in Texas as I write this post!)

And, since March, several more lovely reviews of 121 Days have appeared (not least those by caring readers on Goodreads). Here is a list, perhaps more for my own record-keeping than your interest, but all the same. I’ve added my favorite sentence from each, for added appeal.

We wander through her chapters to celebrate every puzzle piece we find that can connect the different islands she has built for us.

Feeling is in shards, as it were.

Perhaps the translator, then, is the ultimate mathematician, solving equations that push the boundaries between languages.

  • Full Stop review by Rebecca Hussey, 23 June 2016

While reading the novel, we are, in a manner, historians looking at the evidence before us, trying to piece it together to our own satisfaction.

AND, last but not least, my dear Binghamton colleague Steve asked me if I’d like to do an interview with him about the book for Open Letters Monthly. It was a truly delightful exchange, and I look forward to talking about the book more in the coming months.

Reviews of 121 Days: Publisher’s Weekly and the Complete Review

121 Days coverOne Hundred Twenty-One Days is not due to come out until May, but the reviews have already started to appear!

It’s exciting and strange for me, since this is all new.

Still, I’m waiting for someone to say something about the translation. We’ll see what happens…

A Video: My 2015 ALTA Fellow Reading


Yes, it has been a while.

In the meantime, I traveled to ALTA 2015 in Tuscon and got to read from my work (see left and below), “finished” translating Cent vingt et un jours (hopefully I can be satisfied with the final edits I sent to the publisher less than a week ago!), finished my fall semester with flying colors, traveled to England and Guadeloupe, and read lots of lots of theoretical stuff on translation, authorship, and intertextuality. I’ve just started my last semester of classes (ever!), which includes intense courses on Kafka and Benjamin. (Because you could say translation is ultimately about the metamorphosis that occurs in seeking “pure language.”)

I have so much I want to write here, informally, in the wake of my first experience translating an entire novel and seeing it be published (well, in April!), but sadly that writing is being sucked back into my dissertation, at least for the moment.

But the book is coming out very soon! And that excitement keeps me from being discouraged by the sometimes dreary process of attempting to writing about it theoretically.

In the meantime, for the curious, here is a video of me reading from the first chapter of One Hundred Twenty-One Days, to whet your appetites. My reading starts around 21:45, but of course I encourage you to watch the entire thing if you have time – my fellow fellows were excellent.

I am a 2015 ALTA Fellow!

ALTA logoI’m so excited to announce that I am a 2015 ALTA Fellow!

ALTA (that is, the American Literary Translators’ Association) offers fellowships every year to give emerging translators financial assistance to travel to the association’s annual conference.

I was incredibly surprised and grateful to be chosen as a fellow for this year’s conference. Not only does ALTA provide Fellows with a means to get to the conference, but also a chance to read their work in front of all in attendance. I can’t wait!

Read more about the 2015 ALTA Fellows here on the ALTA blog.

Will I see you at the conference?

Using Pinterest for Literary Translation Research

Pinterest-logoOne day I found myself perusing Google Images, researching something related to my translation from the French of Michele Audin’s novel Cent vingt et un jours. I can’t remember if I was looking up a medical technique, a military uniform, or a historical event, but in any case, I knew that finding an image would help me choose what word to use in my translation.

As I was scrolling through pages and pages of images, I thought, what if I could save the relevant images on their own page? And then, hey, why not use Pinterest?

Now I know you may be thinking, my fellow literary translators. Pinterest? A research tool? Isn’t it just full of wedding ideas, recipes, and designer clothes? Well, yes, in part. But you can easily transform it into a useful research tool for translation.

Why might images be helpful to translators, who work with words? I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find that, amidst a sea of monolingual and bilingual dictionaries, thesauruses, online language forums, and other material packed with words, an image can sometimes bring “the right word” to mind. If you’re working with a lot of historical or cultural references, having a collection of representative images can help you keep them straight.

So how does this work? While the opportunities (and Pinterest itself) are practically endless, I’d like to share some immediate applications I’ve used.

  • Historical references (people, places, things)
  • Cultural references (a certain painting, poem, song, food, costume)
  • Terminology reminders (a medical procedure, a type of weapon, an architectural motif)

Also, it’s important to note that, given the abovementioned overload of wedding/fashion/food content on Pinterest, many of the images you need may not be on Pinterest itself, but it’s easy enough to add just about anything to the site.

And now, for a few examples.

The novel I’m translating, Cent vingt et un jours, begins in Senegal around 1900, where one of the main characters spent his childhood. A specific type of boat called a pirogue is described. I found a postcard from the era to give me a better idea of what such a type of book might look like:


Several of the characters attend the École Polytechnique in Paris, which has a very specific uniform:


The book also mentions this particular scene from the 1942 French film Les Visiteurs du Soir (the flames licking the devil’s hands):


Two of the characters meet in front of this statue of Goethe at the University of Strasbourg:


Several references are made to Goethe’s Faust throughout the book, particularly to the character of Margaret/Marguerite/Gretchen, so I’ve saved some famous depictions of this character throughout history, such as this one:


Finally, this photograph is one of the most important images I’ve found. On the right is Gaston Julia, a French mathematician who lost his nose in World War I. One of the main characters in the book (the one mentioned above who was born in Senegal) is partially based on Julia.

Additionally, one of the chapters describes a photograph similar to this one, in which a French and a German mathematician are sitting on a bench with pipes in their mouths, petting a dog. I assume you see the striking similarities.


I hope this has been helpful for my fellow translators. I would love to hear what you think and if you have any other translation-related Pinterest uses to share!

Check out my full Pinterest board for Cent vingt et un jours here. And watch for frequent updates as I continue my way through translating the book!

Intralingo Post – Kipling’s “If” in French (A Translation Conundrum)


My latest Intralingo article is part of the site’s “Translation Conundrums” series, which highlights real examples of specific translation problems from our experience as translators. My particular “conundrum” actually arises from a translation of Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “If”, into French that appears in Cent vingt et un jours. Since the French version of the poem is quite different from the original, simply using the English version of the poem in my translation brings about new issues. Read more here!

French Voices Award 2014

frenchvoices245_1_0_0I am pleased to announce that my translation of Michèle Audin’s novelCent vingt et un jours, is one of nine French Voices award grantees for Fall 2014! See the full list of grantees here.

The book will be an interesting project for me, as each chapter takes a different from, from fairy tale, to diary, to newspaper clippings. As Audin is both a mathematician and a member of the OuLiPo, the novels combines the history of several mathematicians in the World Wars with an innovative form that makes you feel like you’re exploring an eclectic archive.

Here is more information about the award from the French Voices website:

The French Voices Award honors both translators and American publishers for their work. The program’s goal is to create a US-published series of books representing the very best of contemporary French writing in every field. This ambitious program is aimed to support translations from French into English. Applications are accepted twice per year and candidates are selected by a literary committee.

Who is eligible?
You are eligible to apply if you are a literary agent, editor, publisher or translator and if you can present a translated sample of a French book published in France within the last six years (i.e. for 2013 applications, published no earlier than 2006). You do not necessarily need to have contracted with an American publisher. Books of every genre (fiction, non-fiction, children’s literature, comics and ebooks) are eligible for the French Voices Award.

For this award shared between the publisher and the translator, $6,000 will be transfered to the publisher of each selected project: $4,000 to cover the preface and the publishing costs and a $2,000 non-negotiable bonus to be allocated to the translator (respectively $5,000 and $1,000 in case of a comic book or picture book).

Translators interested in applying for the award should refer to the French Voices website.