When the first Annual Conference of the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) took place 35 years ago I didn’t really mind that I couldn’t go. I was nine, and barely read English-language writers, even those who filled speech bubbles in comic books. I was interested in other things.
Times have changed. Today I would give an arm and a leg to attend ALTA, which takes place in Rochester, NY, the opposite side of the very state I lived in those many years ago. There are too many interesting events to list everything, even just sticking to Central and Eastern Europe: Slavic poetry translation, history and humor in post-communist literature and an interesting panel on whether in working with living authors translators should help them avoid potentially cringe-worthy ethnic and other non-PC terms.
Michael Henry Heim
And Chad Post has written a fantastic reminiscence of Michael Henry Heim on Three Percent and a testament to what he has meant to literature in translation in the US. Besides the sad news of Heim’s death, the surprising news of him being the secret donor of the PEN translation fund there is also the good news that in 2013 Open Letter will be publishing The Man Between, “a book about Michael Henry Heim . . [that] will contain bits of his autobiography, which was published in Romania, along with texts he used in teaching his translation classes, bits of correspondence with famous authors he translated, and essays from some of his literary admirers.”
The post goes on to link to an extract of the autobiography at The Iowa Review – Michael Henry Heim, “A Happy Babel.”
Photo – The Tower of Babel by Marten van Valckenborch, 1600?/wikimedia commons