Spanish to English literary translation
by Andrea Labinger
Some New Translations from Andrea This Season
HAVE A LOOK
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“To what depths is a man willing to go to hold on to a dream?”
Translation of Guillermo Saccomanno’s El oficinista
Open Letter, 2020
“Daughter is, without a doubt, one of the best novels by the best contemporary Argentine writers.”
Translation of Ana María Shua’s Hija
(Literal Press, 2020)
Read a review of Ana María Shua’s Daughter in Andrea’s English translation.
A Bit of Background
You might be wondering who I am, how I became involved in literary translation, and why I think it’s one of the most satisfying and rewarding forms of creative expression imaginable.
Although I’ve been actively translating since 1998, the roots of my story grow much deeper than that. The story of my love for the Spanish language and my journey to bilingualism is rooted in my childhood, as are so many of our adult passions.
I’m a native of New York City, born in the Bronx and raised in Yonkers, New York. For years my grandparents had a small store – popularly known as a “candy store,” although this peculiarly urban type of establishment has absolutely nothing to do with See’s or Whitman’s chocolates, as any New Yorker of a certain vintage can tell you – in a predominantly Puerto Rican and Dominican section of Harlem, between Upper Broadway and Riverside Drive. Think West Side Story, and you’ll have some idea of the ambience in which I grew up. It was there, nearly every weekend of my formative years, that I first heard and fell in love with spoken Spanish, in this case the rapid-fire, staccato, Caribbean variety spoken by my grandparents’ neighbors. Everything that emanated from those neighbors’ apartments still pervades my memory: the pungent aroma of sofrito, the cadences of salsas, plenas, and boleros, the panorama of people in the streets, speaking words I couldn’t understand.
Whether or not there’s a direct connection between that first, preliminary exposure to Latino culture and my current work as a translator I can’t honestly say. I began studying Spanish formally at the age of eleven and eventually went on to earn a Ph.D. in Latin American literature from Harvard – worlds away from the little candy store on West 135th Street. I became a professor of Spanish and have had many glorious opportunities to travel throughout Latin America and Spain. I’ve met and befriended most of the prominent writers whose work I am privileged to translate. But the kid who sat on a milk crate behind the counter, ruining her teeth with candy, reading piles of comics and eavesdropping on her grandparents’ customers still lurks behind every translation I do. For what is translation after all but a kind of eavesdropping, a surreptitious slippage into someone else’s skin, into other people’s lives?
We translators always have our ears wide open, and we zealously aspire to share what we’ve learned with our readers, who might otherwise have no access to the many worlds we inhabit. Today, with multiple published book-length translations and numerous short-story translations in journals and anthologies to my credit, I’m still listening.
Andrea G. Labinger
Andrea G. Labinger
- [Ph.D. in Spanish and Latin American Literature, Harvard University
- [M.A. in Spanish, Harvard University
- [B.A. in Spanish, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Hunter College
Please Note: Fees for translation services depend on the length and difficulty of each job and are calculated individually.
- [Full-Length Book
- [Journal and Anthology
- [Creative Non-Fiction
Ten Rules for Literary Translators
Ever wonder what guidelines literary translators follow? Click here to read Andrea’s “rules”
Awards and Recognitions
Andrea Labinger is a winner of the PEN/Heim Translation Award for Guillermo Saccomanno’s noir novel Cámara Gesell and a finalist for The Millions magazine’s 2020 Best Translated Book Award for his novel 77.
People Are Saying . . .
Author of Great American Desert
Middlebury Institute of International Studies
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