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About this Conference and Conversation Series

Watch the recording of this event here:

Join us for Week 13 of Translating the Future as we continue our series of conversations between translators with Lightning in a Bottle: A Case Study of Publishing Literary Translation,” featuring Yoko Tawada with Margaret Mitsutani, Susan Bernofsky, Barbara Epler, Jeffrey Yang & Rivka Galchen, moderated by Stephen Snyder.

What makes a successful book in translation? Have you ever wondered how many people are involved in various stages and how many pieces need to fall into place for an astonishing work of literary translation to make it into the hands and hearts of readers? Featuring Yoko Tawada with Margaret Mitsutani, Susan Bernofsky, Barbara Epler, Jeffrey Yang & Rivka Galchen, moderated by Stephen Snyder. Sponsored by Middlebury Language Schools.

Click here to register for this event and for the link to the livestream. Free and open to the public, the livestream will start at Tue, August 4th, at 1:30 PM (EDT).

The conversations will be hosted by Esther Allen & Allison Markin Powell. *Viewers can submit questions during the livestreaming at [email protected].

Speaker Bios:

Yoko Tawada was born in Tokyo in 1960, moved to Hamburg when she was twenty-two, and then to Berlin in 2006. She writes in both Japanese and German, and has published several books—stories, novels, poems, plays, essays—in both languages. She has received numerous awards for her writing including the Akutagawa Prize, the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize, the Tanizaki Prize, the Kleist Prize, the Goethe Medal, and the National Book Award (US). New Directions publishes her story collections Where Europe Begins (with a Preface by Wim Wenders) and Facing the Bridge, as well her novels The Naked Eye, The Bridegroom Was a Dog, Memoirs of a Polar Bear, and The Emissary.

Margaret Mitsutani is a translator of Yoko Tawada and Japan’s 1994 Nobel Prize laureate Kenzaburo Oe.

Susan Bernofsky directs the program in literary translation at Columbia University. She has translated Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, and is currently working on a new translation of Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain for W.W. Norton. Her biography of Robert Walser is forthcoming from Yale UP in spring 2021.

Barbara Epler started working at New Directions after graduating from college in 1984, and is now the president and publisher. She has been lucky to work with with great translators of such wonderful writers as Yoko Tawada, W.G. Sebald, Laszlo Krasznahorkhai , César Aira, Clarice Lispector, Ingeborg Bachmann, Joseph Roth, Bei Dao, Alejandra Pizarnik, Fleur Jaeggy, Yoel Hoffmann, Roberto Bolaño, Takashi Hiraide, Robert Walser, among many others.

Jeffrey Yang is the author of Hey, Marfa; Vanishing-Ling; and An Aquarium. He works as an editor at New Directions Publishing.

Rivka Galchen is an award-winning fiction writer and journalist who loves noodles and numbers and modest-sized towns where her dad might have worked. Her work appears often in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The London Review of Books and The New York Times. She is the author of three books: Atmospheric Disturbances (Novel, FSG, 2008), American Innovations (Short Stories, FSG 2014) and Little Labors (Essays, New Directions, 2016). She has received numerous prizes and fellowships, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rona Jaffe Fellowship, The Berlin Prize and The William J Saroyan International Prize in Fiction. In 2010, she was named to The New Yorker’s list of 20 Writers Under 40. Galchen also holds an MD from Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Rat Rule 79 is her first book for young readers.

Stephen Snyder, Kawashima Professor of Japanese Studies at Middlebury College, serves as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Language Schools. He is the author of Fictions of Desire: Narrative Form in the Novels of Nagai Kafū (University of Hawai’i Press 2000) and has translated works by Yōko Ogawa and Kenzaburō Ōe, among others. His translation of Ogawa’s Hotel Iris was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2011, and his translation of Ogawa’s Revenge was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction prize in 2014. His translation of Ogawa’s Memory Police was a finalist for the National Book Award for Translated Literature and is a finalist for the International Booker Prize. He is currently working on a study of the publishing industry and its effect on literary canons in translation.

Translating the Future:

Visit Translating the Future page here for the complete conference Program, video recordings of previous events in this series, as well as archival audio recordings, articles, the original program, and more history from PEN's 1970 World of Translation conference.

This conference and conversation series is co-sponsored by PEN America, the Center for the Humanities at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, with additional support from the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center. This week's conversation was generously sponsored by Middlebury Language Schools.