Meet the ’18 Travel Fellows: Lizzie Buehler

ALTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 ALTA Travel Fellowships, including the third annual Peter K. Jansen Memorial Travel Fellowship! 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 Marguerite Feitlowitz, Margarit T. Ordukhanyan, Emma Ramadan, and Haider Shahbaz. Congratulations to this year’s Travel Fellow, Lizzie Buehler:

Lizzie Buehler PicLizzie Buehler grew up in Austin, Texas. She began to learn Korean during a gap year before college, when she attended high school in Seoul and Jeollabuk-do. Lizzie continued her study of Korean—alongside Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish—at Princeton University, where she was a comparative literature major and a creative writing minor. At Princeton, she found that translation provided an opportunity to meld her passions for foreign languages and creative expression. For her senior thesis, she translated part of the short story collection Table for One by Yun Ko Eun, and won the Edmund Keeley Translation Prize.

After graduating, Lizzie spent a year in New York working at a literary agency and freelance translating. She also served as an assistant editor at Asymptote, where she helped curate the journal’s first Korean literature feature. Over the past year, several of her short translations have been published and can be found in Asymptote, The Massachusetts Review, Korean Literature Now, Azalea, and Litro. Lizzie recently received a Daesan Grant to complete her translation of Table for One, which is is forthcoming from Columbia University Press.

Lizzie’s work has been guided by notions of literary value, inspired by a publisher’s feedback on one of her early translations: “I very much enjoyed this piece, but it’s not literary enough to translate.” Considering this statement has helped Lizzie form an understanding of the question that motivates her as a translator: what constitutes “literary”? The writing of Yun Ko Eun, whom Lizzie has been translating for the past four years, is comedic and oftentimes odd. It diverges from mournful Korean classics and the introspective novels for which Korean literature has become known in the twenty-first century. Lizzie hopes her translations of Yun will broaden conceptions of Korean literature and of literary worth.

This fall, Lizzie will join the MFA program in literary translation at the University of Iowa, where she is an Iowa Arts Fellow. In Iowa, she looks forward to immersing herself in a cross-lingual community of translators and writers and to working with languages beyond Korean.

Lizzie is thrilled to meet other translators at her first ALTA conference.

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