Steph Morris – Books of the Year 2018

Steph Morris photo

I tore through Christof Hein’s Verwirrnis. Much interest in the rights, but it’s untranslated as yet, although I was so visibly enthralled my partner got FOMO, forcing me to translate salient developments live. One of those historical novels I love, which give you a feeling of what it would have been like for you then, showing political conflicts as lived.

Although less plot-driven, Teaching Translation, edited by Lawrence Venuti, also sucked me in and spoke to me. In his introduction, Venuti highlights academia’s instrumentalist treatment of translated texts as interchangeable with the original, and calls for translation to be acknowledged and discussed as an interpretative act, taught as such by working translators. The succeeding chapters provide lively examples.

Editing poetry for this year, I read poems from various collections by Kathrin Schmidt, in the translations of Sue Vickerman and Jamie Osborn then the original. These were some of the more sophisticated submissions we received and led me to read more of her poetry, a discovery, dense, vivid, musical, readable but layered – and far from easy to translate. Her latest collection is waschplatz der kühlen dinge, one to take time over.


Christof Hein, Verwirrnis (Suhrkamp, 2018, see

Lawrence Venuti, ed., Teaching Translation (Routledge, 2017)

Kathrin Schmidt, waschplatz der kühlen dinge (Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 2018)


Steph Morris’ translation of Brigitte Reimann’s diaries, It all smacks of departure, Seagull Books, will finally hit the shelves this year.


Next: Jackie Smith