Fiction · German · Translation

Apple Cake and Baklava

I’m currently working on what might be my dream book project, and it’s definitely one you’re going to hear me go on about a lot. Apple Cake and Baklava, by Kathrin Rohmann, is novel for late primary kids and early secondary, dealing with asylum, how it feels to be a refugee, parallels between WWII and Syria, grandmas, recipes, a lost walnut that means the world and budding friendship between Max and Leila. I love this book and can’t wait to see it in UK schools and libraries from summer 2018. I’m even already planning a German-Syrian-English baking class at a local cafe for a Gloucestershire launch event!

My translation will be published by Darf Publishing in 2018, with support for the translation costs from the Goethe Institut, UK. There are more details about the book here on the New Books in German website.

‘Apple Cake and Baklava is a story about otherness, openness and the willingness to come to know one another. Many children will be aware of the latest surge of refugees and their plight. Leila’s is a sadly universal and timeless story of leaving behind a home country forever. While set in rural Northern Germany, it could equally take place in most European countries.

This is an absorbing book for older primary and younger middle-school children, and Franziska Harvey’s lovely black-and-white illustrations – some small, some full page – enrich the story.’ (New Books in German)

German · non-fiction · Translation

Farewell to the Horse: The Final Century of Our Relationship

*** Farewell to the Horse was BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week from 29 May! ***

Farewell to the Horse is an engaging, brilliantly written and moving discussion of what horses once meant to us. Cities, farmland, entire industries were once shaped  as much by the needs of horses as humans. The intervention of horses was fundamental in countless historical events. They were sculpted, painted, cherished, admired; they were thrashed, abused and exposed to terrible  danger. From the Roman Empire to the Napoleonic Empire,  every world conqueror needed to be shown on a horse. Tolstoy once reckoned he had cumulatively spent some nine years of his life on horseback.

“Ulrich Raulff ’s book, a bestseller in  Germany, brilliantly translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, is a superb monument to the endlessly various creature who has so often shared and shaped our fate.”

(from the inside cover)

Title: Farewell to the Horse: The Final Century of Our Relationship

Author: Ulrich Raulff

Translator: Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp

Publisher: Allen Lane, published 25 May 2017 

Reviews

‘This unusual book is a series of airy, winging essays that alight briefly on world history, art, literary criticism and historiography before leaping on to make new, often surprising connections. […] This is not the Pony Club Manual or a trot through the more familiar sights of equestrian art history; it’s Kafka, Aby Warburg, Tolstoy, psychoanalytic theory, Nietzsche and bleak monochrome photos in the style of Sebald. This epic enterprise is relieved by Raulff’s spare, vivid style and deep learning. He is as comfortable analysing the etymology of Pferd and Ross as he is discussing the Chicago School, Clint Eastwood and the Amazons, and he rarely loses his audience.’

Susanna Forrest in The Literary Review

‘A beautiful and thoughtful exploration of the role of the horse in creating our world… Farewell to the Horse is a grown-up, but also lyrical and creative, history book, and I very much enjoyed it.’

James Rebanks

‘In his conclusion you feel the deep underlying affection that drives his historical mission. “Anthropologists see the man, historians see the farmer, technologists see the plough and perhaps someone will even be interested in the harness,” Raulff laments, “whereas nobody feels responsible for the horse.” This refined and ambitious book corrects that tragic neglect.’

James McConnachie in The Sunday Times, 14 May 2017

‘Sex, violence and 6,000 years of horse power: Melanie Reid enjoys an elegy to the way horses have galloped through our culture’

Melanie Reid in The Times, 20 May 2017

‘As you pick up the reins of this books – trying to get a sense of what sort of ride it is to be – it becomes evident within three paragraphs that you have never read a book like it. […] Raulff’s ability to corral scattered equestrians in art, letters and life makes scintillating reading and his writerly pace is exhilarating – especially when he takes flight from his own starting gates.’

Kate Kellaway in The Observer, 21 May 2017

‘Mr Raulff gallops through time and space, art criticism, philosophy and economics, plaiting in tales of Kafka, Tolstoy and Comanche, the hard-drinking stallion who was the only non-Indian survivor of the Battle of Little Bighorn. His is a category-defying, often dizzying, piece of writing; both books are imbued with hippophilia.’
The Economist, 1 June 2017

Fiction · German

Sacrifice – a German crime thriller

I’m reading a lot of crime fiction but this book stands out among them all. The narration is so rich that even when the novel is at is most gruesome I did not dare put it down. I just learned Hanna Winter has 5 other novels published in German and can’t wait until they are all translated as well!” Amazon review

“It will be interesting to see where this series goes. Lena shows great deal of potential as a character and I love the setting of Berlin. I was drawn to her and her side kick. This is definitely worth a read, if you are in the mood for a serial killer thriller. Amazon review

Title: Sacrifice

Author: Hanna Winter

Translator: Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp

Publisher: Manilla Books (Bonnier Zaffre)

Publication date: e-book 30 June 2016, paperback 17 November 2016

Arabic · Fiction · German · non-fiction · Russian · Translation

Shortlisted for an Arts Foundation fellowship 2016

My head is still reeling after attending one of the most exciting arts events I’ve ever been invited to. There were children’s theatre entrepreneurs, people who stage symphonies in unusual locations, innovative jewellery designers and the creator of the world’s first sustainable fabric made from pineapple leaves, Pinatex. A truly inspiring celebration of young people in the arts. And not only was I wined and fed with delicious canapés, I came home with a cheque for £1000, as a shortlisted candidate for the Arts Foundation 2016 fellowship in literary translation. I’m delighted that the fellowship was awarded to, IMHO, the most deserving of the 5 of us on the shortlist, the amazing Deborah Smith: scholar of Korean literature, award-winning translator and founder of the radical publishing house Tilted Axis Press. Thank you to the Arts Foundation and to Alexandra who nominated me.

German · non-fiction

The new divide: why the world didn’t get better

The fall of the Berlin Wall created a bigger gap between rich and poor than there was previously in eastern Europe, and discrimination against minorities continues today, argues award-winning German author Thomas Rothschild

The latest edition of Index on Censorship includes an article I translated by Thomas Rothschild on the resurgence of nationalism across Europe and the worsening economic divide since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

First published in Brick by brick: Freedoms 25 years after the Wall, Index on Censorship Vol 43, Issue 2, 11 June 2014

Sample available online here at Sage Journals

Fiction · German · Translation

Irena Brežná, The Thankless Stranger

Title: The Thankless Stranger (Die Undankbare Fremde)
Author: Irena Brežná
Translator of sample: Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp (available as PDF on request)
Translation commissioned by: New Books in German, 2012

The background

I was accepted to join the Emerging Translators’ scheme, a great initiative run by New Books in German, which involves translating an extract of a novel and the opportunity to discuss my work and others’ at a day workshop with 5 other translators and the venerable, multilingual and prolific translator Shaun Whiteside.

The piece I was commissioned to translate was an extract from ‘Die Undankbare Fremde’ by Irena x, a Swiss Slovakian writer who, besides having produced several works of fiction, is also a publicist, former war journalist, expert in Slavic languages, psychologist and intercultural mediator. Her work on Chechnya also seems pretty interesting.

I loved the themes of immigration/language/loss of identity … and the interrupting narrative by an interpreter who finds herself in all kinds of odd situations including interpreting for a lady giving birth. Seems like just my kind of story 🙂

More about the author
* http://www.opendemocracy.net/author/irena-brezna