Literary translator Angela Rodel will explore the unorthodox approaches to history and the challenges such framing of the past creates for the translator in her two recent works: Georgi Gospodinov’s 2023 Booker International prize-winning novel Time Shelter and Vera Mutachieva’s 1968 historical novel The Case of Cem. While Gospodinov takes an absurdist approach to the “discreet monsters” hiding within a sanitized collective past, Mutafchieva structures her book as a “court of history,” placing the reader in the role of judge and using a period neglected in Bulgarian historiography to subtly critique the Cold War era she was living and working in. These reframings and subversions of national historical narratives pose both linguistic and contextual challenges to the translator bringing these works to non-Bulgarian audiences.
**Copies of both Time Shelter and The Case of Cem are available for special order through The Literary in downtown Champaign. In order to have copies in advance of the talk, we recommend you submit any orders by January 30.
Angela Rodel is a literary translator who holds degrees from Yale and UCLA. Nine Bulgarian novels in her translation have been published in the US and UK, and shorter works have appeared in McSweeney’s, Two Lines, Ploughshares, Words Without Borders, and elsewhere. She has received NEA and PEN translation grants. Her translation of Georgi Gospodinov’s Physics of Sorrow won the 2016 AATSEEL Prize for Literary Translation, while her translation of his novel Time Shelter was featured on The New Yorker’s list of Best Books of 2022 and won the 2023 International Booker Prize. Since 2015 she has served as executive director of the Bulgarian-American Fulbright Commission.