Interview with NBG intern Gwen Choi

Gwen Choi tells us about her work with New Books in German

What is your professional background? 

I did my MA in Philosophy and German at St Andrews, where my interest in the publishing and translation world was first sparked. During my degree, I did a sample poetry translation for Suhrkamp Verlag, which you can find here. I then moved onto Oxford for further study, where I now specialise in German colonial history.  

How did you first hear about New Books in German?

I first encountered NBG by looking at resources for German-English translators; without the guidance afforded by the NBG website I would not have been able to have completed my first sample translation.

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

Not only have I been able to meet wonderful, fascinating, helpful individuals through NBG jury meetings, but I also had the opportunity to attend London Book Fair with Sarah where I had the pleasure of meeting experts from around the industry. I also very much enjoyed getting to know more about the current up-and-coming trends in the German publishing space and how that compares to the Anglophone world. Sarah was wonderful to work for, and thanks to her I had the opportunity to learn more about my own specific interests – children’s literature. It goes without saying that I would recommend this internship to anyone!

What have you learned during the internship?

It was fascinating to learn about the priorities of differing markets, as well as how agents and scouts play the risk-reward game. I also enjoyed familiarising myself with the lists of different publishers and agencies, which allowed me to understand how houses of different sizes might have different targets.

You came along to the London Book Fair, what did you make of the experience?

I was thoroughly impressed by the sheer amount of talent and passion at the LBF, and indeed also by its size. I found myself especially appreciative of the level of detail and preparation demonstrated by all of the exhibitors that allowed such an all-encompassing event to run so smoothly. I would love to return again, as I have plenty more that I wish to learn!

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

I always love learning about young authors, and I found Mina Hava’s Für Seka (For Seka) to be a brave, stylistically interesting and compelling debut novel about trauma.

Which book would you most like to translate?

I would like to translate children’s and YA fiction, and I found Petra Postert’s Das Jahr, als die Bienen kamen (The Years the Bees Came) to be a sensitive and much-needed story covering difficult themes such as grief, complicated family dynamics and what it means to have a home.

Thanks Gwen for your work and all good wishes for the future! To read Gwen’s interview with Dr Charlotte Ryland for NBG, please click here.

Read more interviews with former NBG interns here.