Institut Ramon LLull




ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorships 2020 in Catalan awarded to Tiago Miller

USA,  30/04/2020

The ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorship Program was founded by former ALTA board member Allison M. Charette and is designed to establish and facilitate a close working relationship between an experienced translator and an emerging translator on a project selected by the emerging translator. The mentorship duration is nine months. The emerging translator is expected to choose a project that can be completed in that time, and they will only be advised on that particular project. ALTA's Emerging Translator Mentorship Program in Catalan is funded by Institut Ramon Llull.

Tiago Miller is a writer and translator based in Catalonia. Raised in the suburban outskirts of London, it was the multilingual metropolis and its second-hand bookshops that offered him a release from the suffocating conformity of televised choral services, manicured lawns and fish and chip suppers.

After various wanderings around Spain, he began a BA in Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Southampton, which included a year studying Cinema and Philosophy at the Universidade de Santa Catarina. After graduating, he relocated to Moscow where he worked as a freelance translator, followed by a move to Barcelona where he took up a teaching post. After a break to teach in Gambia, he is now happily settled in Lleida in western Catalonia. He has worked on translations of Catalan writers such as Manuel de Pedrolo, Pere Calders and Montserrat Roig, while his articles in Catalan on language, politics and literature have appeared in Núvol and La República.

He is delighted to be working alongside Mara Faye Lethem on the first book-length translation of Montserrat Roig into English. Described as Catalonia’s “first total writer”, her extensive body of work as both author and journalist intertwines fact and fiction in a study of language, identity, feminism, antifascism and (historical) memory. The eight stories contained in the collection El cant de la joventut present a fully developed personal and introspective prose in which memory, love, death and female identity flow freely across spatial and temporal planes. In her exploration of both the role of women in society and her tireless championing of female writers (as opposed to women who write), Roig can be regarded as a bridge between Caterina Albert and Mercè Rodoreda and such contemporary authors as Najat El Hachmi and Marta Orriols. This mentorship, therefore, represents an outstanding opportunity to produce a first-class translation with the aim of finally making Roig’s vivid poetic imagery and depth of thought available to an English language audience.

Ever on the side of the underdog, Tiago now considers himself Catalan by adoption. If he were asked to what he owes his deeply felt passion for Catalan, it would only seem appropriate that he quote Montserrat Roig: “Over the years I have discovered that languages choose us.” If he could give his younger self any advice it would be to relax and enjoy the ride.

Mara Faye Lethem has translated novels from Catalan by Jaume Cabré, Albert Sánchez Piñol, Marc Pastor, Toni Sala, and Alicia Kopf, among others. Her work has been featured as New York Times and Booklist Editors’ Picks, and among the Best Books of the Year in The Times of London, Readers’ Favourite Books in the Financial Times, and Publishers Weekly’s Picks of the Week. She has had shorter pieces (by such authors as Juan Marsé, Rodrigo Fresán, Pola Oloixarac, Teresa Colom and Alba Dedeu) published in The Guardian, Best American Non-Required Reading 2010, Granta, The Paris Review, Tin House, A Public Space, and McSweeney’s. Her translation of The Whispering City, by Sara Moliner, recently received an English PEN Award and two of her translations were nominated for the 2016 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. She writes the New Catalan Fiction catalogue for the Institut Ramon Llull, and redacted the application that earned Barcelona designation as a UNESCO City of Literature.

This mentorship is being offered by ALTA in partnership with Institut Ramon Llull.


Read more about the ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorship Program. This year’s Catalan prose mentee, Tiago Miller, will be mentored by Mara Faye Lethem.

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