Each year, ALTA provides four to six $1,000 fellowships to emerging translators to attend the annual ALTA conference. This year’s winners were selected by Dick Cluster, Sara Novic, and Sebastian Schulman. We are excited to feature Travel Fellow Zoë Sandford:
Zoë Sandford was born in the US and moved to the UK at the age of eight. As a dual-national, she understood from an early age the importance of bridges between cultures, and the desire to help build these international bridges was what led her to translation. The study of languages in school, especially German and French, allowed her to expand her literary horizons; curiosity about how these horizons could continue to expand then prompted her to study non-European languages, and to strive for a global, interconnected understanding of world literatures.
Zoë went on to obtain a BA in French and Arabic from St John’s College, Oxford. As part of the course, she lived in Amman, Jordan in 2014-15, and pursued an intensive program of study at the Qasid Institute. This program introduced her to contemporary Arabic writing in its original language for the first time, with an approach that took into account Arabic literature’s rich heritage as well as its complex present. She has also travelled and studied in the West Bank.
She has a particular interest in speculative fiction, especially fantastic and dystopian fiction. As her undergraduate thesis at Oxford, Zoë wrote a comparative work which looked at four contemporary novels, two French and two Egyptian, and examined the theoretical and political implications of describing them as dystopian. Her current personal project is a translation of Heaven on Earth, by Jordanian novelist Fady Zaghmout, which depicts a future society where technological advances have cured aging (the official translation of the book is forthcoming in translation by Sawad Hussain from Signal 8 Press). Zoë also has a strong interest in postcolonial theories of literature, in French as a world language, and in polyvocality and multilingualism in postcolonial contexts.
In addition to translation, Zoë writes poetry and fiction. Her poetry has appeared in publications including The ISIS and Vulture.