ALTA Fellow: Yardenne Greenspan

Yardenne Greenspan was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, to an American father and an Israeli mother. She graduated with honors in 2009 from Tel Aviv University, where she majored in Comparative and Hebrew Literature and in Multidisciplinary Arts. After completing her undergraduate studies she went on to travel in South America and East Asia, feeding her love of languages and cultures, and writing throughout her travels to help her understand, interpret and put in order the things she had seen and done. She has participated in fiction writing workshops in Tel Aviv and has worked as a self-employed translator until she moved to New York in 2010. She is currently in her final year at the MFA Writing Program at Columbia University, where she focuses on fiction and translation. She is the development manager for Columbia: a Journal of Literature and Art and an English-language manuscript reader for one of Israel’s major publishing houses, Kinneret Zmora Bitan. Yardenne has worked as a Hebrew-English and English-Hebrew translator for the past five years, and is in the final stages of translating Life is Good, a fictionalized memoir by Rana Werbin, into English. This book, published in Israel in 2011, is a collection of excerpts from the author’s real-life journal, disassembled and reorganized, to be put back together in a way that creates an alternative, more desirable narrative, a genre which the author defines as an “auto-reality”.

Yardenne is currently working on an English translation of The Sequoia Children, a fantastical-historical novel by Gon Ben Ari. This 2010 novel spans great distances of time and place, from 1940s Europe, stricken by the Jewish Holocaust, to Israel of the 2000s, where a mysterious drug given at birth allows children to live to be 1000 years old. The novel follows the inventor of the drug through his harrowing experiences in labor camps in Eastern Europe, and the bizarre consciousness of the first generation of children to receive the drug, knowing that they will outlive their siblings who were born prior to the invention of this questionable blessing. The book takes a deep look at the connection between a destruction of humanity and the desire to have it last forever. It examines the loss of childhood experienced by Holocaust survivors, and the twisted, unexpected way it translates itself into an extended, innocent and never-ending childhood for following generations, one which nevertheless causes whoever experiences it to lose all passion for learning, evolving and cherishing life.

Yardenne is also currently working on an English translation of Eating, a play from 1977 by the renowned playwright and author Yaakov Shabtai. This play is based on the Biblical story of Naboth’s vineyard, which was taken away by King Ahab in a murderous plan. This play presents a comical and cynical interpretation of this story of greed and violence, one that reflects the role unwarranted force and petty war play in modern-day Israel. It is a biting commentary on the unethical conversion of law to support immoral acts, so that corruption and atrocity may take place as part of a lawful life, rather than in the dark and dingy, yet straightforward, alleys of the underworld.


About Erica Mena

Erica Mena is a Puerto Rican poet, translator, and book artist. Pronouns: they/them.
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One Response to ALTA Fellow: Yardenne Greenspan

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