Eve Mason talks to us about her recently completed internship with the NBG project.
What is your professional background?
I studied English and German literature at Oxford, and throughout my degree I was interested in finding links between the English- and German-speaking worlds. That led me to write my dissertation on George Eliot and German woman writer Fanny Lewald, which was recently published in the George Eliot Review. I’m now studying contemporary literature and publishing at the Freie Universität in Berlin. Translation has been a constant interest alongside my studies, and during my BA I translated and self-published a collection of five nineteenth-century German fairy tales by women writers. I’ve also tried to dip my toe into publishing through internships; before NBG I’d spent a bit of time with Peirene Press, as well as working for three months at Berlin-based literary agency Elisabeth Ruge Agentur.
How did you first hear about New Books in German?
Over the course of my studies I’ve become increasingly drawn to contemporary German literature, often so contemporary that no academic articles have yet been written on the texts. When researching for essays, I’ve come across NBG’s reviews of their titles online, which have provided me with a great first insight into a book.
What have you enjoyed most about your internship with New Books in German?
The flexibility of the internship has been both helpful and liberating. Sarah was keen to assure me that I could always make suggestions of tasks that might particularly interest me, so I’ve really enjoyed interviewing publishers that are focused on translated fiction, since this is an area of the industry I would love to work within. It goes without saying that the NBG jury meetings were a real highlight – I was struck by how quickly we had to move from book to book to fit everything in, which made for an incredibly stimulating, fast-paced discussion.
What have you learned during the internship?
Hearing the different values and priorities at play when choosing which books to promote for an English-speaking audience was really eye-opening. And just seeing the breadth of books submitted by publishers as I sorted through the reader reports was something I enjoyed and learned a lot from. Skills-wise, I was also grateful for the opportunity to work with NBG’s various Excel spreadsheets of supported books, and to help updating the website. Publishing requires a creative brain but also a practical one with great attention to detail, and these kind of tasks were great at honing those skills.
Do you have a favourite from the books the jury selected and why?
It’s hard to pick! I was particularly drawn to Judith Kuckart’s Café der Unsichtbaren (Café of the Invisibles), which has the unlikely setting of a telephone counselling service – the novella shines a light on the lives of its seven volunteers, as well as the people who call in wanting help or just a listening ear. I think the Covid pandemic showed everyone how deep our need for human connection is, and this book highlighted that in a really tender way.
Having spent three months with the Elisabeth Ruge Agentur, I was also happy to see a couple of the authors they represent make the final list. The feminist themes of Helene Bukowski’s Die Kriegerin (The Fighting Woman) and of Martina Clavadetscher’s Vor aller Augen (In Plain Sight) really appeal to me.
Which book would you most like to translate?
Another tricky question! When I first read Abbas Khider’s Der falsche Inder a few years ago, I was really keen to translate it. It’s a very originally structured semi-autobiographical novel about the protagonist’s flight from Iraq to Germany – a brutal, tragic story of the life of a refugee, but also full of humour with elements of magical realism. The book has since been translated by Donal McLaughlin but it still stands out to me as a very unique example of a (forced) migration narrative.
Thanks Eve for all of your work, enthusiasm and ideas! We really enjoyed working with you and wish you all the best in the future.
Read interviews with other former interns
Find out more about the internship programme