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Interview Series: 8. Rosalind Harvey

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Hi, everyone! The Interview Series are back this month with a literary translator. She translates, teaches translation, plans fun events for language enthusiasts and chairs translation slams. She is the co-founder of Emerging Translators Network (ETN) and a judge for the newly inaugurated Society of Authors' Translators Association (TA) First Translation Prize. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Rosalind Harvey!


1. So what does Rosalind Harvey do?

I translate (mainly) contemporary Latin American fiction, teach translation at the University of Warwick, and organise translation-related events.

2. What’s a typical day like, if there is such thing?

It used to be me, sitting in an office with books and a computer, translating and/or planning events and going a bit stir-crazy. But, since last September when I got a job as a Teaching Fellow at the University of Warwick, it’s largely been filled with lesson planning, teaching and marking! I’m hoping to find some more time for translation again once teaching becomes a bit more second nature… It takes up a lot of my time, but luckily I’m able to use some literary texts in my teaching, which most students seem to enjoy.

3. And why translation — how did it happen?

Kind of by accident, with a bit of design thrown in. I studied Spanish at UCL and then fell into bookselling, working at the now-defunct foreign language bookshop Grant and Cutler in Soho. That's when I started attending the Poetry Translation Centre’s translation workshops. There, I found out about the British Centre for Literary Translation (BCLT) summer school, and I attended it the following summer. At the summer school, I met Anne McLean, an acclaimed Spanish-English translator, and we stayed in touch. I did the MA in Literary Translation at UEA the next year, worked on a few co-translations with Anne after I completed the Master’s, and then things just started to happen.

4. Do you do anything else in addition to the above?

I’m the co-founder and chair of the Emerging Translators Network, an online forum for early-career translators to ask questions about the profession and engage with others who are just starting out in the industry. I’ve also been asked to be a judge for the newly inaugurated TA First Translation Prize, which is a real honour. And when I have time, I organise translation events for the public: I’m taking part in 3 translation slams this year, for instance, one at Warwick Books, one at Marlborough Literature Festival, and I’m chairing one at the University of Exeter’s Translation! Festival.

5. And when you are not working, what do you do?

Ideally, sleeping! I also like going on long walks, going out dancing very occasionally, tending my pitifully small garden and cooking food for people at home.

6. What are you reading right now?

I’m reading the latest novel by Juan Pablo Villalobos, the Mexican author who I translate, alongside Giles Tremlett’s book on Spain.

7. What are you translating at the moment?

A novel about Hugo Chávez by Venezuelan author Alberto Barrera Tsyszka, out with MacLehose Press next year.

8. What are your plans for the future?

I’d like to translate more young female authors, to run more public and student translation events at universities, and to learn Turkish! Not sure when I’ll find the time, but I love the food – always a good way to get into a culture, I feel.

9. That is definitely the way in! What would you say to your younger self?

Hmmm… Don’t worry too much about what other people think of you, don’t be so mean to your little sister, and it’s fine to be shy! I was never concerned about being bookish as a child, as it always felt like home to me, being in a book.


Rosalind Harvey is a literary translator and Teaching Fellow at the University of Warwick. Her translation of Juan Pablo Villalobos’ debut novel Down the Rabbit Hole was shortlisted for the 2011 Guardian First Book Award and the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize. She has worked on books by Guadalupe Nettel, Elvira Navarro and Héctor Abad Faciolince. She is a founding member and chair of the Emerging Translators Network (ETN), and is currently working on a novel by Venezuelan author Alberto Barrera Tyszka, forthcoming with MacLehose Press.

You can follow Rosalind on Twitter @Rosenkrantz


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