Sabrina Jaszi (2016 ALTA Mentee)

Sabrina Jaszi  Sabrina Jaszi is a fiction writer and translator of Russian fiction and poetry, based in Illinois. She earned her M.F.A. in fiction writing from the University of Florida and also holds an M.S. in Library Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she currently works on Slavic digital projects at the university library.  

Sabrina grew up in a bilingual French-speaking household with parents who loved to read and travel. As a student of Oberlin College she enrolled in a course in Russian Decadence taught by Russian scholar Tim Scholl and soon after began studying Russian.  In Comparative Literature classes at Oberlin, she was introduced to a great swatch of literature in and on translation and, during a year abroad in St. Petersburg, completed a translation of a contemporary Russian short story as part of her thesis paper. After graduating, she spent time in Ukraine where she continued to study and read Russian and had her first translation gig, translating political and economic news. Later, at the University of Florida, she began to pursue literary translation more actively and consistently. With the support of Michael Hofmann, a poetry faculty member and accomplished translator, as well as of her classmates (including former ALTA honorees Claire Eder and Hai-Dang Phan), she translated the work of contemporary Russian poet Andrei Rodionov.  Later still, at the University of Illinois, she first attempted translation of a work a fiction, a story by the émigré author Sergei Dovlatov. As a fiction writer herself, she felt at home with the form, and eager to pursue other fiction projects. Also at the University of Illinois, she first attempted a translation into Russian. Together with her instructor, translator and translation scholar Roman Ivashkiv, she completed a Russian-language translation of Leonard Michaels’ list story “In the Fifties.”  Thanks to all of these individuals and institutions, translation has become an essential part of her creative practice and of her perpetual and ongoing study of Russian.  For the last several years Sabrina has also studied Uzbek language and hopes to begin work soon on translations from Uzbek.

Sabrina’s current translation project is a book-length collection of short stories and novellas by Reed Grachev (1935-2004), a Leningrad author who, though greatly admired by his contemporaries, published little in the Soviet Union. He is the author of the 1967 story collection Где твой дом? (Where is Your Home?) and the 1994 collection Ничей брат (No One’s Brother), as well as the translator of a 1981 collection of the works of Saint-Exupery. Two posthumous anthologies of his writing and translations were published in 2013 and 2014. Sabrina was drawn to Grachev for his voice (Grachev writes beautifully from the perspective of children, for example) and timeless, unfussy realism. He describes his world—that of an orphan, that of a Soviet citizen, that of a writer—in exceedingly personal terms, gracefully, and with humor. In 2014, a German-language collection of Grachev’s stories was published, but little of his work has been translated into English. Sabrina greatly looks forward to continuing work on this project with the support and mentorship of Marian Schwartz, as well as to sharing some of her translations of Grachev’s singular and affecting stories at the ALTA 2016 conference.

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Natascha Bruce (2016 ALTA Mentee)

Natascha BruceNatascha Bruce is a Chinese-English translator, currently living in Hong Kong. She grew up in a mish-mash of places, a disproportionate number of them beginning with the letter B (Belfast, Barbados, Bedford, Brussels). To her disappointment, none of these locations had the side effect of causing her to grow up bilingual. Instead, they left her with a slightly inconsistent British accent, the catch-up desire to learn as many languages as possible, and a complex about spending longer than a couple of years in any one place.

It did not occur to Natascha that learning Chinese was a possibility until she was seventeen; before then, it seemed a fact of life that Chinese characters were impossible to understand. She studied at Cambridge, and will always be jealous of the classmate whose “Why Chinese?” story involves being twelve and catching a scrap of paper fluttering down from the sky, which turned out to be contain a line of Chinese poetry. She spent most of her final year translating dark, bloody short stories by 1930s experimentalist Shi Zhecun for her own entertainment, wilfully ignoring the fact that she was supposed writing a thesis about him, instead.

After graduation, she moved to Taipei and worked as international coordinator for a Taiwanese film house, where she had the dubious honour of assisting with the releases of such titles as Sex & Zen 3D and The Twilight Saga. Luckily, she was also able to translate subtitles for some much better, homegrown Taiwanese films, including Starry Starry Night, an adaptation of the graphic novel by Jimmy Liao, and Girlfriend, Boyfriend, the first mainstream film to address both Martial Law and the gay rights movement in Taiwan. Post-Taipei, she balanced subtitle translation with barista shifts and an MA in Human Rights at Utrecht University, in the Netherlands. 

In 2015, she was joint-winner of the Bai Meigui translation competition, for translation of a short story by Hong Kong author, Dorothy Tse.  This was a personal turning point: it reminded her how much fun it is to spend time inside stories, introduced her to Dorothy’s gripping, unsettling writing, and enabled her to spend a week at the Translate in the City summer school, taught by the excellent Nicky Harman. Since then, she has translated other stories for Dorothy, appearing in The Bellingham Review and BooksActually’s Gold Standard anthology, and worked with Nicky on a co-translation of Snow, a novella by Xu Xiaobin. They also collaborated on the foreword for Nicky’s translation of Crystal Wedding, Xu’s most recent novel.

Natascha has an affection for dark, unsettling writing, especially if it has a surrealist edge, and especially if there’s an animal in an off-kilter role. She also has an ever-growing appreciation for Sinophone writing from outside the Chinese mainland and – for all the above reasons – is very happy to be working on Yeng Pway Ngon’s short stories during her ALTA mentorship. She looks forward to spending the year with fractious middle-aged couples, political activist parrots, and an adventurous ant, among others.

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Noah Mintz (2016 ALTA Mentee)

Noah MintzNoah M. Mintz began translating at Vassar College, where he received his B.A. in Media Studies and French & Francophone Studies. During his third year there, he spent one semester living, studying, reading, and eating in France. Somewhere between Poughkeepsie and Paris, he caught the translation bug. As an elective senior capstone project in the French department, he translated the first half of Patrick Modiano’s Pour que tu ne te perdes pas dans le quartier into English, earning a grade of distinction. After graduating, he moved to New York to learn more about translation and publishing. He managed to surround himself with literature from around the world as an intern at Archipelago Books and a bookseller at Strand. He recently moved to San Francisco, and has fallen in love with the area’s linguistic diversity and wonderful people.

Noah’s first extended encounter with the French language happened far from the metropolitan “Hexagon,” when as a teenager his family took a sabbatical journey through the Caribbean. Like many Americans his age, his associations with the language at the time were limited to berets, baguettes, and brie. He was dazzled by this other vision of Francophone culture, and worked to expand it as he began to study the language formally in college. He took courses on Franco-Caribbean history and literature, and was exposed to works of art from all across the Francophonie.

        His degree in Media Studies afforded him the opportunity to study in several fields, but all of his coursework was connected by a common thread of cultural studies and critical theory. His studies of film, art history, drama, literature, and criticism exposed him to a broad and motivating array of writers and artists who seek to take on and share a wide, inclusive, and intersectional worldview.

        Noah sees translation as a powerful and unique tool for social justice, one that can promote voices that might otherwise not be heard. He aims to seek out narratives and perspectives that complicate the notions that Anglophone readers might hold of other cultures, near and far. The act of translating is a chance to both step up, addressing the issues of American cultural dominance, and to step back, by helping other voices speak louder rather than presuming to add his own to an already-rich global chorus.

        Moving forward, Noah is excited by new possibilities for translation, both personally and nationally. He sees a real burgeoning movement in the world of publishing, with more and more publishers of all kinds cropping up and showing their commitment to bringing translated writing to an American audience. He is excited to be a part of this movement, and hopes to make himself useful however he can.

        Noah is thrilled to be attending the 2016 ALTA Conference, and to have the inimitable Emmanuelle Ertel as a mentor through the ALTA Emerging Translators Mentorship program. He would like to extend his utmost gratitude to ALTA and to the French Embassy Books Office for their support.

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Eliza Rose (2016 ALTA Mentee)

Eliza Rose (1)Eliza Rose grew up in Brooklyn, New York and has recently made herself at home in the foothills of northeast Los Angeles. She is grateful for the LA Public Library system’s enormous stores of Science Fiction and audiobooks to explore, and likes listening to murder mysteries while driving around Pasadena.

Eliza’s high school teacher left a copy of Bruno Schulz’s story collection Street of Crocodiles on his desk with her name on a post-it note stuck on its cover, and the gift seeded a long-term involvement with Polish literature. She began learning Polish halfway through college, when she saved up her tips from a grueling summer job to spend two weeks in Krakow. She ultimately came back for a year after finishing up her BA at the University of Chicago, thanks to a fellowship from the Kosciuszko Foundation. She worked as a translator at the Galicia Museum, a small museum devoted to the area’s Jewish history. She finally got comfortable with the language by ruthlessly parroting her roommate, who patiently offered herself up as a learning prop and a friend.

In Poland, her interests roved from literature to animation, film and art, as she gravitated towards the intense productivity of Polish artists of the 1970s, who had found themselves some elbowroom within the ideological parameters of their time. A retrospective on Józef Robakowski at Warsaw’s Center for Contemporary Art introduced her to the structural filmmaking and conceptual art of the seventies that brought tropes of the Russian Avant Garde back into circulation, and put Polish artists in conversation with a global community.

With a new palate of interests and questions, she started her PhD in Slavic languages at Columbia University in 2012. The program gave her the time and resources to include Yugoslavia in her area of study, so she has been studying Serbian for the last two years, and has come to love Belgrade, where she clocks as much time as she can manage. She has just started collecting research for her dissertation, which will compare narrative frameworks for representing labor in the visual culture of Poland and Yugoslavia in the seventies.

In Los Angeles, Eliza works as a freelance researcher and writer for film production and multimedia storytelling.  She finds it curious to encounter narrative speculations and visualizations she associates with the Eastern Bloc and its futurist impulses of the sixties and seventies here and now, in a city where Hollywood and the tech industry somewhat gracelessly collide.

She is working on a novel of Science Fiction while she takes up the slow work of writing her dissertation.

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No Man’s Land Returns!

No Man’s Land, the independent online journal of contemporary German literature, is resuming publication with a new website and new Editorial Board.

With the upcoming Issue 11 (Winter 2016), we will build on the ten-year history of this publication, carrying forward its commitment to translation and the works of contemporary authors writing in German.

We invite you to visit to peruse our selection of recent German-language short fiction and poetry in English translation. Founded in 2006 in Berlin, to date No Man’s Land has published works of more than 140 authors, as interpreted by 89 translators.

Submissions of translations for the 2016 edition will be accepted from 1 August to 30 November, 2016. Please see our detailed guidelines on the SUBMIT page for further information.

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