Warts and All: Sustaining a career in literary translation
in partnership with the National Centre for Writing, Goethe-Institut London and New Books in German
Literary translator Nariman Youssef chaired this discussion with fellow professional translators Alice Guthrie, Anton Hur and Ruth Martin, on the realities of sustaining a career in the industry. This was an open and honest conversation, pitched for mid-career translators, about what it means to stay in literary translation for the long haul, covering among other things questions of self-marketing, niche-carving, side-jobs, and advocacy work.
Nariman Youssef is a Cairo-born literary translator and translation consultant based in London. Her translations include Mo(a)t: Stories from Arabic (UEAP, 2021), Inaam Kachachi’s The American Granddaughter (new edition, Interlink, 2020), Donia Kamal’s Cigarette No. 7 (Hoopoe, 2018), and contributions to publications like The Common, Arab Lit Quarterly, Words Without Borders. In recent years, she also managed a translation team at the British Library, and led and curated translation workshops with BCLT, Shadow Heroes, Shubbak Festival and Africa Writes. Nariman holds a master’s degree in Translation Studies from the University of Edinburgh.
Alice Guthrie is an independent translator, editor, researcher and curator specialising in contemporary Arabic writing. Her work often focuses on subaltern voices, activist art and queerness / queering (winning her the Jules Chametzky Translation Prize 2019). Her translation of the complete short stories of the maverick Moroccan gender activist Malika Moustadraf was published in February 2022 by Feminist Press (US) and Saqi Press (UK). Alice programmes the literary strand of London’s biennale Shubbak: A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture, and has curated Arab arts events for Edinburgh International Book Festival, Outburst International Arts Festival and Arts Canteen (London). She teaches undergraduate and postgraduate Arabic-English translation around and about, including at the University of Birmingham and the University of Exeter.
Anton Hur is a writer and translator working in Seoul. He was born in Stockholm, Sweden, and raised in British Hong Kong, Ethiopia, and Thailand, but mostly in Korea, where he’s lived for thirty years. He was awarded the title of Person of Distinguished Service to the Nation after serving in the Korean Army.
Ruth Martin studied English literature before gaining a PhD in German. She has been translating fiction and non-fiction books since 2010, by authors ranging from Joseph Roth and Hannah Arendt to Nino Haratischwili and Shida Bazyar. Ruth has taught translation at Birkbeck (University of London), the University of Kent, and the Bristol Translates summer school. She is also a former co-chair of the Translators Association, part of the UK’s Society of Authors.
Photo © Michael Jershov
This event was part of the BCLT Advanced German Translation Workshop (8-10 November 2022) and was in partnership with the National Centre for Writing, Goethe-Institut London and New Books in German.
My last published translation
Opposites attract in this historical romance.
A tale of several quirky sisters who never thought they would attract husbands.