Sara Nović is a fiction writer and composition professor currently stationed in Sunnyside, Queens. Her short fiction has appeared in Electric Literature, Guernica, The Massachusetts Review, and The Minnesota Review, with essays in The LA Review of Books, Ploughshares, and Apogee. She is also the founding editor of the Deaf rights blog Redeafined, and the fiction editor at Blunderbuss. Her first novel, about the Yugoslav Civil War, will be published by Random House in 2015.
Growing up an avid reader and in-secret writer, Sara had no notion that writing could be anything more than a quiet interest to be hidden beneath one’s mattress. The first of her family to attend college, she was amazed upon her arrival at Emerson in Boston to discover creative writing as an academic discipline. Thanks to a slew of supportive faculty, she pulled the notebooks from under the bed and graduated with a BFA in Writing, Literature and Publishing in 2009.
Still, Sara had always considered translation a day-to-day necessity rather than a literary pursuit. Utilizing sign language interpreters in her classes, Sara was no stranger to real-time translation between English and American Sign Language. Further, having lived with family in Croatia and experienced the subsequent mixing of Croatian and American family members, translation in its rawest form was a normal occurrence around the dinner table, but nothing more.
Sara’s second literary epiphany—this time about translation as a kind of creative writing—came when she began the MFA program at Columbia University. There she pursued dual degrees in Fiction and Translation, and had the opportunity to work with translators Susan Bernofsky, Idra Novey, and Jeffrey Yang, all of whom she thanks heaps for their expert guidance. Through workshops with her super-smart colleagues, Sara came to appreciate and practice translation as an art form in its own right.
While at Columbia, Sara also worked to spearhead a subset of Columbia’s Word for Word Translation Exchange, organizing, along with fearless leader Susan Bernofsky, Word for Word: ASL, a program in conjunction with students at Gallaudet University in Washington DC. The exchange group translated English short stories into ASL, and short fiction recorded in American Sign Language into English, collaborating to address the complexities of translating between written and visio-spacial grammar modalities.
Recently most of Sara’s translation work has been focused on the poems of Izet Sarajlić, who is perhaps Bosnia’s most celebrated writer, but is relatively unknown in the US. Some of Sara’s translations of Sarajlić’s work have been published by Circumference; she was also a winner of the 2014 Willis Barnstone Prize for her translation of the poem “After I Was Wounded” (“Nakan Ranjavanja”).
Sara is currently working on a translation of Sarajlic’s Sarajevo War Journal (Sarajevska Ratna Zbirka), a collection of poetry he wrote during the first thirty days of the siege of Sarajevo in 1992. She hopes to continue translating his many collections for an English-speaking audience.