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Translating Fiction: Achy Obejas


Mar 28 2017


11:45 am - 12:45 pm


Forum for Scholars and Publics

011 Old Chemistry Building, Duke's West Campus Quad

Translating Fiction

Translating Fiction

A Conversation with Achy Obejas

In an interview for the journal Origins, Cuban American writer and translator Achy Obejas revealed that she is “always interested in the truth in fiction, and how fiction can dare go places so-called historical accounts can’t. Part of the reason for that is that fiction is personal — the reader needs someone to identify with — and so the stories are always more intimate, smaller in dimension, and more accessible than the kinds of movements and forces that formal history contends with.”

Obejas cites translating as “the closest close reading” she’s ever conducted. In this conversation, she will talk about the challenges and rewards of her work as a translator of fiction. As a translator, Obejas is highly unusual, in that she has earned accolades both for her translations from English to Spanish and for those from Spanish to English. To cite just two examples, her translation into Spanish of Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao was a finalist for Spain’s Esther Benítez Translation Prize, and her translation into English of Papi by Rita Indiana was listed among World Literature Today’s 75 Notable Translations of 2016. After a brief introduction, Obejas will present and then we will invite our translation students to respond and ask questions. Finally, we will open up the conversation to questions from the wider audience.

This event is organized by Joan Munné and Melissa Simmermeyer and has been made possible with the support of Forum for Scholars and Publics, the Mary D.B.T. and J.H. Semans International Exchange Fund, Dean of the Humanities, the Department of Romance Studies, Trinity Language Committee, Duke University Center for International Global Studies, and Community-Based Teaching and Learning Funds. For more information, please visit the Translating Spanish-English and English-Spanish site


Achy Obejas

Achy Obejas is an accomplished poet, novelist, journalist, professor, and translator. She was born in Havana and after the Cuban Revolution, came to the US at the age of 6 with her parents. She grew up in the Midwest, and studied journalism at Indiana University, Bloomington, before earning an MFA…...

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