We caught up with Yana Ellis to find out what she thought of her internship with NBG.
What is your professional background?
I am a mid-life career changer with a background in MFL teaching. In 2021 I completed the MA in Translation (DE-EN) at the University of Bristol, and since then I have actively sought to establish a holistic understanding of the whole translation industry and before NBG, I completed a six-month internship with Trafika Europe. I translate from German and Bulgarian into English and my translations have appeared in No Man’s Land, The Common, and most recently The Trinity Journal of Literary Translation. My prose pamphlet proposal for the translation of a short story collection from Bulgarian is longlisted with The Emma Press.
I found the page support for translators an invaluable starting point when making the decision to become a literary translator and the tips and advice there helped me navigate my journey into literary translation.Yana Ellis
How did you first hear about New Books in German?
I first became aware of NBG during the completion of my MA studies. I found the page support for translators an invaluable starting point when making the decision to become a literary translator and the tips and advice there helped me navigate my journey into literary translation. Later on in my studies, when researching for my dissertation project, I used the book reviews of the titles on the NBG website to gain a first insight into a book that may be suitable for my dissertation.
What have you enjoyed most about your internship with New Books in German?
Translation does not exist in isolation — there are many facets to the art of translation and many players. I truly enjoyed all the tasks throughout the internship, but particularly cherished the opportunity to interview Naveen Kishore and Dr Seán Williams, both allowing a glimpse into two different perspectives of German language literature and its place in the Anglophone world.
What have you learned during the internship?
The NBG jury meetings were a real eye-opener — it was incredible to hear experienced translators and publishers discuss the various factors influencing a book’s success with an Anglophone audience and I learned a lot from these meetings. I also felt privileged to experience first-hand the latest trends in German language publishing, discover new authors and publishing houses. I also found writing a book report very useful as this was an opportunity to really go ‘between the covers’ and this is a much needed skill when preparing pitches for publishers.
It’s very difficult to pick a favourite since all the books that were included in the jury’s choice are of high literary quality, all covering themes pertinent to the times we live in.Yana Ellis
Do you have a favourite from the books the jury selected and why?
It’s very difficult to pick a favourite since all the books that were included in the jury’s choice are of high literary quality, all covering themes pertinent to the times we live in. If I had to pick one book only, it would be Birgit Mattausch’s Bis wir Wald werden (Until We Become Forest) – a gorgeous little book with a quirky style, poetic language and beautiful imagery that tells the family story of Russian-Germans who were deported to Siberia, then fled back to Germany to escape forced labour. The narrative has a strong sense of place, yet particularly in view of recent events, it is universal.
Having grown up behind the Iron Certain, I’m always on the look-out for a book that offers a different perspective on people’s lives under the Communist regime and I was intrigued by Klara Blum’s autobiographical novel Der Hirte und die Weberin (The Shepherd and the Weaver). I was also pleased to see Maja Haderlap’s much-anticipated second novel Nachtfrauen (Women at Night) make it to the list.
Which book would you most like to translate?
The moment I read the epilogue of Ein von Schatten begrenzter Raum (A space bounded by shadows) by Emine Sevgi Özdamar, I was in love. This is an auto-fictional, rich, vivid tale of new beginnings, identity, and carving a new life with ‘words without childhood’. Özdamar is a major voice in the increasingly more-diverse German-language literature who has won a slew of awards and only last year the prestigious Georg-Büchner-Preis. Ein von Schatten begrenzter Raum is a piece of German literature that encourages us to look beyond the façade of established viewpoints and that will move and deeply resonate with readers of all faiths, backgrounds and mother tongues. It would be absolutely a dream come true if I were given the opportunity to translate the entire book.
Thanks Yana for all your work and enthusiasm. We wish you all the best with whatever next!
Read interview with other former interns here.