We are happy to inform you that we have just launched a new a series of regular podcast interviews about Slovak literature. The podcasts will be recorded on a weekly basis, alternating between German and English, and can be accessed via major online platforms, such as Spotify, ApplePodcast and GooglePlay. In the English version, LIT_CAST Slovakia, translator Julia Sherwood will be inviting translators, publishers, academics, writers and others to her virtual studio to talk to them about Slovak literature in English and related subjects.
Since April 2020 Julia Sherwood has interviewed nearly thirty guests for Lit_Cast Slovakia. In today’s final – and slightly longer, 30th episode Peter Michalík, who has worked with her on this podcasts series, has turned the tables on her. He coaxed the renowned translator and tireless promoter of Slovak literature to tell the fascinating story of her enforced exile from Czechoslovakia, her years in Germany, England and the US, her love of Central Europe and her beginnings as a literary translator.
In LIT_cast Slovakia 29 deputy director of Karolinum Press Martin Janeček talks to Julia Sherwood about bringing Czech books to foreign audiences, being undeterred by the disruptions to publishing schedules caused by the pandemic, and about the Modern Czech Classics series that aims to go beyond the traditional literary canon. And – ta-da! – he reveals plans for a new Modern Slovak Classics series and his publishing house‘s long-term commitment to introduce the best of Slovak literature.
In LIT_cast 28 translator and journalist Tomáš Hučko talks to Julia Sherwood about what made him co-found the monthly Kapitál, about championing socially engaged writing and political comic books, about the most popular Slovak children’s books since 1989 as well as the joys and challenges of translating John Fante, Henry David Thoreau and John Steinbeck. He has plenty of suggestions of books by Slovak authors that might be worth translating into English, and recommends taking a fresh look at some interwar communist writers.
In episode 27 of LIT_cast Slovakia the writer, artist, editor and DIY enthusiast Monika Kompaníková talks to Julia Sherwood about the universal appeal of her novel Boat Number Five, about the book’s screen adaptation and the importance of translations as well as about discovering deep sea creatures with her son, writing lyrics for rock bands and commissioning books that aim to improve access of Roma children to education and change the way people think.
In Lit_cast Slovakia 26 translator Tünde Mészáros talks to Julia Sherwood about growing up bilingually in Bratislava and raising multilingual daughters in Budapest, about the importance of musicality in translation, the variety of specialists she consults in her research, why she prefers good non fiction to bad fiction and how a swimming pool attendant helped her solve a particular translating challenge in Samko Tále’s Cemetery Book.
In Lit_cast Slovakia #25 David Short, scholar and translator from Czech and Slovak, talks to Julia Sherwood about some of the staggering number of books he has translated, about grappling with ambiguities and archaisms in Vladislav Vančura’s works and deciphering the mix of Czech and Slovak in the writing of 18th century Slovak writer Jozef Ignác Bajza. He reveals his preferred English rendition of Hrabal’s words pábení and pábitel and explains why České Budějovice might be the only place in the Czech Republic where people chat away in pidgin (Tok Pisin) in local pubs.
In LIT_cast Slovakia 24, literature scholar, translator and one-time rock band member Peter Petro admits to being baffled by the mysterious link between Slavonic studies and rock music. He further talks to Julia Sherwood about about the difficulties in finding publishers for Slovak books in English, praises the natural beauty of Vancouver and the kindness of Canadians and pleads for fair pay for authors and translators.
In LIT_cast Slovakia 23 literature scholar Ivana Hostová talks to Julia Sherwood about the agendas that drive translations of Slovak poetry into English and why quantity does not necessarily translate into quality, and why publishing poetry in translation is challenging even in a translation-dominated culture such as Slovakia. She also introduces Nóra Ružičková, one of the first Slovak experimental poets, as well as the subversive poetry of Peter Macsovszky.
In Lit_cast Slovakia #22 Hungarian literary organiser Éva Karádi talks to Julia Sherwood about championing European and, specifically, Slovak literature and which Slovak writers have made their mark in Hungary. She explains how editing Hungarian Lettre Internationale taught her that writers write better than philosophers, about the the importance of cultural bridge-building and why we shouldn’t make a distinction between ‘big’ and ‘small’ literatures.
In LitCast Slovakia #21 the award-winning writer and journalist Irena Brežná talks to Julia Sherwood about rebelling against the dogma of writing in her native language, the importance of maintaining an outsider’s perspective and avoiding the trap of assimilation. She also talks about her political birth during the Prague Spring of 1968, about combining writing with activism as well as feminism.
In Episode 20 of Lit_Cast Slovakia Polish translator and theatre director Kasia Dudzic-Grabińska talks to Julia Sherwood about what she misses most about Slovakia and her favourite Slovak theatre companies, how she combines literary translation with theatre work, why she objects to „pop Auschwitz“ literature and about the challenge of finding hidden literary allusions in Milo Janáč’s alcohol-fuelled novella.
In the first edition of LitCast Slovakia in 2021, literary critic Peter F. ‘Rius Jílek helps Julia Sherwood usher in the New Year in a conversation ranging from earthquakes and the pandemic to the importance of literary awards. He shares his experience of being on the jury of Anasoft Litera, explains why he doesn’t mince his words in his reviews, and calls for a sustained and better funded campaign to promote Slovak literature abroad.
In the 18th and last instalment of Lit_Cast Slovakia of 2020, literature scholar Ivana Taranenková talks to Julia Sherwood about this year’s literary output, both by established and emerging Slovak writers and assesses the impact of the pandemic on the country‘s literary life and research. She introduces a forthcoming English-language publication that will offer insiders‘ and outsiders‘ look at contemporary Slovak literature, and tells why her favourite 19th century Slovak author is Martin Kukučín.
In Lit_Cast Slovakia # 17 writer and editor Mária Modrovich talks to Julia Sherwood about the works of literature and cinema that have inspired her writing, about Slovak literary prizes and festivals and the literary scene in New York City, as well as about helping people to navigate the waters of Slovak literature through the website Books from Slovakia.
In Lit_Cast Slovakia # 16 writer and translator Lucia Duero talks to Julia Sherwood about the chance encounter in Spain that led her from Slovakia to Mexico, and navigating cultural differences between these two countries. She discusses her favourite Slovak poets whom she has introduced to Spanish readers through her translations, and to the Anglophone public through the journal Tupelo Quarterly and talks about the irrational criteria she uses to choose the authors she translates regardless of commercial considerations, and why she enjoys translating without a contract with a publisher.
In Lit_Cast Slovakia # 15 translator John Minahane tells Julia Sherwood why a new English translation of the anti-war cycle The Bloody Sonnets was needed and what their author Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav has in common with the Russian futurist poet Velemir Khlebnikov. His succinct and vivid characterisations of a range of Slovak writers from Ladislav Novomeský, Miroslav Válek and Milan Rúfus through Ivan Štrpka to Ivan Kolenič and Peter Macsovszky are accompanied by spirited readings from his translations of their works.
In Lit_Cast Slovakia # 14 translation studies scholar Ľudmila Pánisová talks to Julia Sherwood about the legacy of Professor Anton Popovič and the need to treat the source text with respect; she welcomes the growing number of English translations of Slovak literature and suggests that more writing from the interwar and postwar period, as well as crime stories and books for children and young adults should be translated.
In Lit_Cast Slovakia #13 translator Marie-Theres Cermann talks to Julia Sherwood about persuading German-language publishers to give Slovak writers a chance, about the joys and challenges of translating Balla, Marek Vadas and Ivan Medeši and why she believes the plight of refugees remains relevant even during the pandemic.
In Lit_Cast Slovakia #12, Lutheran pastor, publisher, editor and blogger Sarah Hinlicky Wilson, who grew up in the US and now lives in Japan, talks to Julia Sherwood about diving into the history of Slovakia and unearthing some forgotten gems in her quest to read every single Slovak novel available in English. She explains her criteria for rating books, recommends her favourite Slovak works of literature and unveils the most translated Slovak writer of all times.
In Lit_Cast Slovakia #11, Slovak poet and translator Mária Ferenčuhová tells Julia Sherwood how the pandemic made her appreciate virtual literary events and turn from writing straight poetry to texts dealing with fragility, aging and dying, in an interdisciplinary and intuitive way of working. She also talks about translating Michel Houellebecq and cooperative translation of poetry, and recommends a bunch of Slovak poets to read in, or be translated into English.
Episode 10 with James Sutherland-Smith
In Lit_Cast Slovakia #10, James Sutherland-Smith talks to Julia Sherwood about his own poetry and the intuitive link he feels with the poets he translates, why he doesn’t believe in creative infidelity and why he finds translating prose more difficult than poetry and why he feels that being a man is no hindrance to translating women poets.
In the ninth episode, Nataša Ďurovičová talks to Julia Sherwood about exile as the point of no return, reveals how creative writing came to be one of Iowa’s main exports alongside corn and pork, explains the different social need fulfilled by creative writing in the US and the rest of the world, and unpacks the writing and translation workshops at Iowa University.
In the eight episode, writer and journalist Michael Stein talks to Julia Sherwood about Central European sensibility, the surreal sight of a tourist-free Prague and the unforced surrealism in the writing of Uršuľa Kovalyk as well as subtle irony of Jana Juráňová, and recommends his other favourite Slovak writers Pavol Rankov, Dušan Mitana, Peter Karpinský and Ondrej Štefánik.
In the seventh episode, literature scholar Katarina Gephardt talks to Julia Sherwood about intrepid women travellers who helped shape an ambivalent image of Central and Eastern Europe in 19th century Britain, about generational memory and productive nostalgia in the writing of Verona Šikulová and Maroš Krajňak and her plans for a Companion to Contemporary Slovak Literature.
In the sixth episode, Jonathan Gresty talks to Julia Sherwood about his British DNA and going native in Slovakia, about translating two very different books – Anton Baláž’s Camp of Fallen Women and Jana Bodnárová’s Necklace/Choker and explains what is skopos theory, and what is wrong with English-language information for tourists and why some Slovak books would benefit from some serious editing.
In Lit_Cast Slovakia #5, world traveller and translator Janet Livingstone talks to Julia Sherwood about reinventing herself in Seattle after living in Bratislava for 16 years, picking up foreign languages, translating Slovak women writers, cultural differences between Europe and the US, and praises the politeness of the Slovak people.
In the fourth edition Charles Sabatos talks to Julia Sherwood about finding his Slovak roots, Slovak studies program at The University of Pittsburgh and more.
In the third edition Magdaléna Mullek talks to Julia Sherwood about her life in three countries and two languages.
In the second edition Rajendra Chitnis tells Julia Sherwood about teaching Czech and Slovak at British universities, why Vladimír Mečiar was beneficial for Slovak literature and why Franz Kafka is a big problem for literatures of smaller European countries. They will also discuss whether readers need to know history in order to understand older Slovak literature and whether Milan Kundera would still be aknowledged world-wide had the books of Juraj Johanides been translated into English.
First guest is the translator and publisher Donald Rayfield.