A few weeks ago, Elizabeth Harris contributed a brief comment to one of Lily Hoang’s posts. Her name was familiar to me because I had been reading Dalkey Archive Press’s Best European Fiction 2010, for which she contributed a translation of Giulio Mozzi’s “Carlo Doesn’t Know How to Read.” I hoped for once not to miss the opportunity to engage an interesting visitor in a conversation that might be interesting to HTMLGiant readers. She graciously agreed to answer a few questions about her work as a literary translator, and about the broader culture of literary translation in the United States.
Harris teaches creative writing at the University of North Dakota. She has translated fiction by Mario Rigoni Stern and Fabio Stassi, and she is currently translating Giulio Mozzi’s story collection, Questo e’ il giardino (This is the Garden) and Marco Candida’s novel, Il diario dei sogni (Dream Diary). Her translations appear or are forthcoming in various journals, like Words Without Borders, The Literary Review, Agni Magazine, The Missouri Review, and The Kenyon Review. Her translation of Candida appears in Best European Fiction 2011.
How did you get involved in literary translation?
I slipped into translation accidently. I studied Italian in college and loved it and kept studying it after I finished college and was working as a cook in St. Paul. I just kept taking classes in Italian. Then, I was preparing to go to Johns Hopkins for creative writing and everyone had to take a language exam; I translated Italo Calvino’s Marcovaldo all summer long, got very distracted/excited by it and thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could find a place to study THIS?” READ MORE >