Intern interview: Regan Mies

Recent intern Regan Mies reflects on her time with New Books in German

What is your professional background?

I studied political science, German, and creative writing as an undergraduate at Columbia. I also read submissions for a couple of literary agencies, assisted a professor with her book manuscript on German architecture, and interned at Abrams Books, where I became an editorial assistant after graduating. This year, I’m living in Hamburg with the support of a Fulbright grant, where I teach English in a Gemeinschaftsschule and read, write, and translate in my free time. A couple of my translations of short fiction have been published, in No Man’s Land and on the Asymptote blog, and I’m excited to continue on in the world of translation, publishing, and international literature. I’ll be starting my MFA in fiction and literary translation this fall.

How did you first hear about New Books in German?

… as I began connecting with foreign rights agents, I quickly noticed that some of the books landing on my desk and in my inbox were NBG selections.

Regan Mies

I finally took a translation seminar during the last semester of my undergraduate degree, and New Books in German was the first (and most comprehensive) resource I came across while researching German-to-English translation ­­and familiarizing myself with contemporary German, Austrian, and Swiss writing. Later at Abrams, editors I worked with knew I read and was interested in German-language work, and as I began connecting with foreign rights agents, I quickly noticed that some of the books landing on my desk and in my inbox were NBG selections.

What have you enjoyed most about your internship with New Books in German?

A definite highlight of the internship was attending and participating in the round-table jury meeting at the Goethe-Institut in London, where each title under consideration was approached from a variety of perspectives: of life-long agents, acquisitions editors, award-winning translators, independent publishers, and so on

Regan Mies

A definite highlight of the internship was attending and participating in the round-table jury meeting at the Goethe-Institut in London, where each title under consideration was approached from a variety of perspectives: of life-long agents, acquisitions editors, award-winning translators, independent publishers, and so on. I really appreciate that Sarah Hemens went out of her way to make sure the internship covered ground I found exciting and meaningful.

What have you learned during the internship?

Conducting interviews for the NBG website has been enormously interesting; I’ve had the chance to connect with and glean real wisdom from individuals across so many facets of the literary world. I’ve also grown much more familiar with German-language publishing houses, their imprints, and their distinct personalities. I feel I better understand the nuances of what makes a title stand out to different audiences, and I’ve come across a breadth of new German, Austrian, and Swiss literature I’m eager to read, from ‘rediscovered’ women writers in exile to contemporary migrant fiction to climate sci-fi.

Do you have a favourite from the books the jury selected and why?

I’m a big fan of Caroline Wahl’s Windstärke 17—the stand-alone sequel to 22 Bahnen, which, a previous NBG selection, I also adore. Both are unique, voice-driven coming-of-age novels about two sisters that feature a heartfelt blend of tragedy and romance. To risk sounding cliché, I feel they’d fit well alongside titles by popular English-language authors such as Sally Rooney or Elif Batuman. And although I haven’t read them in their entirety just yet, I’m intrigued by Michiko Flasar’s Oben Erde, unten Himmel and Iris Wolff’s Lichtungen; they’re at the top of my list.

Which book would you most like to translate?

Another of my favorites from this spring’s selections is Şehnaz Dost’s debut ruh, a poignant and important addition to the growing body of contemporary German literature with migrant themes, which was the focus of one of my favorite courses I took in Columbia’s German department. I’d love the chance to work more closely with Marlen Pelny’s Warum wir noch hier sind, a deceptively simple anti-thriller about individuals forced to live in the aftermath of violence rather than its perpetrators or victims. Recently, I’ve also been an avid reader of novels by East German or former East German authors, from Brigitte Reimann to Jenny Erpenbeck, and would love to continue exploring work with a GDR origin, influence, or setting.

Thanks Regan for all your work and enthusiasm. We wish you all the best!

Read interview with other former interns here.