Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




Translating the Future Finale: A Flight of Tokarczuk Translators

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Please join the East Central European Center at the Harriman Institute and the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center, CUNY for the finale of the Center for the Humanities’ Translating the Future event series, featuring twelve of Olga Tokarczuk’s translators in conversation. Sponsored by the Polish Cultural Institute New York, the Boston University Center for the Humanities, and the Princeton University Program in Translation & Intercultural Communication.

The conversations will be hosted by Esther Allen & Allison Markin Powell.



Olga Bagińska-Shinzato
Jennifer Croft
Barbara Delfino
Cristina Godun
Antonia Lloyd-Jones
Hikaru Ogura
Pavel Peč
Lothar Quinkenstein
Lisa Palmes
Maria Skakuj Puri
Ostap Slyvynsky
Julia Wiedlocha

Moderated by Susan Harrris


When Olga Tokarczuk was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, readers all over the world were able to celebrate because her writing has been translated into dozens of languages. Tokarczuk has been hugely appreciative of the remarkable individuals who have done this work, writing “It’s hard for me to express the relief that comes with being able to share authorship with someone,” in an essay titled — in Jennifer Croft’s translation —”How Translators Are Saving The World.” This landmark event brings together a cohort of these talented people—working from Polish to English, Japanese, Hindi, Ukrainian, German, Czech, Norwegian, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, and Romanian—to compare and contrast their experiences working with this challenging and dynamic author over the course of her career. This prismatic lens offers an extraordinary opportunity to examine the art of translation across languages and borders.



Jennifer Croft is the author of Homesick and Serpientes y escaleras and the co-winner with Nobel Laureate Olga Tokarczuk of The International Booker for the novel Flights. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literary Studies from Northwestern University and an MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Iowa.




Antonia Lloyd-Jones has translated works by several of Poland’s leading contemporary novelists and reportage authors, as well as crime fiction, poetry, and children’s books. Her translation of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by 2018 Nobel Prize laureate Olga Tokarczuk was shortlisted for the 2019 Man Booker International prize. She is a mentor for the Emerging Translators’ Mentorship Programme, and former co-chair of the UK Translators Association.



Ostap Slyvynsky is a Ukrainian poet, translator, essayist, and literary critic. He authored five books of poetry and was awarded several Ukrainian and international literary prizes. He translates fiction and non-fiction from Polish, English, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Belarusian, and Russian into Ukrainian. Among the authors that he has translated are Czesław Miłosz, Hanna Krall, Andrzej Stasiuk, Olga Tokarczuk, Mikołaj Łoziński, Ignacy Karpowicz, Derek Walcott, William Carlos Williams, James Tate, and Georgi Gospodinov. Slyvynsky’s translations have earned him the Polish Embassy’s translation prize (2007) and the Medal for Merit to Polish Culture (2014). Ostap Slyvynsky was the first program director of the International Literary Festival in Lviv in 2006–2007 and still organizes many literary events in Ukraine. Slyvynsky teaches Polish literature at Ivan Franko National University in Lviv as well as contemporary literatures of East Central Europe and courses on translation at Ukrainian Catholic University.

Barbara Delfino is an Italian translator who translates from Polish, Russian, French, and English into Italian. She is specialized in translation of fiction and non-fiction from Polish and Russian into Italian and among the authors that she has translated are Katarzyna Grochola, Hanna Kowalewska, Adam Michnik, Olga Tokarczuk, Mariusz Wilk, Ivan Turgenev, Evgenij Zamjatin. Since 2015 she is director of the literary prize “Premio Polski Kot” for the best work of the year translated into Italian from a Salvic language. The literary prize is an important event of the international Festival Slavika held in Turin every year in March, to which she collaborates for the organization of literary events.

Lothar Quinkenstein is a writer and translator of Polish literature, and teaches at the Intercultural German Studies at Collegium Polonicum in Słubice. Together with Lisa Palmes, he translated Olga Tokarczuk’s “The Books of Jacob” (2019). His translation of Olga Tokarczuk`s “Bizarre stories” will come out next spring. Last year, he published his second novel Souterrain, and recently a book with autobiographical prose: Wiesenzeit. In 2017 he was awarded with the Jabłonowski-Prize, in the same year, he received the Spiegelungen Prize for poetry.


Julia Wiedlocha holds an MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Oslo. She is the manager of Thorleif Dahls Kulturbibliotek foundation, and has recently started Meteor Forlag, an independent publishing house focusing on feminist fantastic literature. She is currently translating Olga Tokarczuk, Stanisław Lem, and Andrzej Sapkowski into Norwegian.



Hikaru Ogura is an associate professor of comparative literature in the department of Japanese Literature and Culture at Toyo University. She holds a PhD in Russian literature from the University of Tokyo, her lectures in comparative literature concern Slavic literature and culture. So far, she has translated four books by Olga Tokarczuk into Japanese. She is currently translating Olga’s Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead.

Lisa Palmes specialized in Polish and German Studies in Berlin and Warsaw, and since 2008 has been working as a translator of Polish literature. She has collaborated with Lothar Quinkenstein on the translation of the autobiography of Ludwik Hirszfeld and on Olga Tokarczuk’s The Books of Jacob, and they will be working together on her short story collection, Playing on Many Drums.




Maria Skakuj Puri is translator and academic, and nearly lifelong resident of Delhi, India, who has been diligently translating Tokarczuk’s works since 2013.




Pavel Peč is a Czech translator from English and Polish and teacher of foreign languages. After graduating from Palacky University, he received a translation fellowship at the Book Institute in Kraków, Poland, and stayed behind in the city for five more years, teaching Czech for foreigners. Among the authors that he has translated into Czech so far are Krzysztof Varga, Paweł Huelle, Olga Tokarczuk, Zygmunt Miłoszewski, Stephen King, etc. His main areas of focus in translation are prose, drama, visual arts and AV media, film and TV. He also interprets at international film festivals. He currently lives in the town of Český Těšín, Czech Republic, just a few hundred meters from the Czech-Polish border on the Olza River.


Olga Bagińska-Shinzato is a translator, literary scholar, linguist, and Brazilianist. She graduated from University of Warsaw and University of Brasília where she majored in Literary Studies. She currently lectures on Brazilian literature and Brazilian Portuguese language at the Faculty of Modern Languages at the University of Warsaw. Co-founder of the Brazilian Studies Department at the Institute of Iberian and Latin American Studies (UW). Author of literary translations to Brazilian Portuguese (Olga Tokarczuk’s Drive your Plow over the Bones of the Dead, Flights, Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher Saga, Polish 20th and 21st century poetry, children’s literature: A.Mizielinska and D.Mizielinski’s Maps, Piotr Socha’s The Book of Bees).

Cristina Godun is an Associate Professor of Polish language within the Department of Russian and Slavic Philology at the Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, University in Bucharest, author of a monograph on Tadeusz Różewicz’s dramaturgy (Teatr Tadeusza Różewicza, București, 2008), A contemporary grammar of Polish language. The morphology of nouns and determiners (București, 2009), The Phonetics, Phonology and Morphonology of Polish Language (București 2010), co-author to three dictionaries of Polish and two textbooks for learning Polish. She has translated 30 books (from English and Polish) of prominent writers (i.e. Andrzej Stasiuk, Olga Tokarczuk, Witold Gombrowicz, Szczepan Twardoch, Lidia Ostałowska, Mariusz Szczygieł, Marek Krajewski, Zygmunt Miłoszewski etc.). Her translation of Olga Tokarczuk’s Drive your Plow over the Bones of the Dead was awarded with the Special Prize for Translation for 2019 from the Writers’ Union of Romania.

Susan Harris is the editorial director of Words Without Borders and the co-editor, with Ilya Kaminsky, of The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry. She was formerly editor in chief at Northwestern University Press, where she founded the Hydra imprint in literature in translation and [published Imre Kertesz, Herta Muller, and Olga Tokarczuk before their Nobel Prizes in literature. She] was Olga Tokarczuk’s first US publisher.




Event Video