Institut Ramon LLull


Catalan authors Mercè Rodoreda and Montserrat Roig, to be discussed at ALTA43 Conference

Literature.  Virtual, 22/09/2020

For over forty years, the The American Literary Translators Association - ALTA conference has provided the largest gathering dedicated exclusively to the work of literary translation. This year for the first time ALTA will celebrate its yearly assembly virtually. The conference, under the title ALTA43: IN BETWEEN, will include an event featuring Catalan modern classic Mercè Rodoreda, presented by editor Chad Post in discussion with translator Martha Tennent, and a reading of Montserrat Roig's short stories by the Catalan mentor-mentee tandem, Mara Faye Lethem and Thiago Miller, as part of the ALTA mentorship program. 

Join us for the two Catalan events at ALTA43: IN BETWEEN:

October 1, 2020, 2:00-3:30pm EST 

2020 ALTA Mentorship Program Reading (Free & open to the public)

Please join ALTA’s 2020 Emerging Translator Mentorship Program cohort for their live virtual closing reading! In an event hosted by ALTA Board member Aviya Kushner, the seven 2020 mentees will read from the projects they have worked on this year with their mentors, translated from Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, Korean, Norwegian, and Russian.

The ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorship Program is designed to establish and facilitate a close working relationship between an experienced translator and an emerging translator. The mentor and mentee work together for approximately nine months on a project selected by the emerging translator. The resulting translation is presented at ALTA conference every year.

Institut Ramon Llull started collaboratin with The ALTA Emerging Translator Mentorship Program since it was founded by former ALTA board member Allison M. Charette, back in 2015. The very first Catalan mentor that year was Ronald Puppo. This year's tandem is formed by experienced translator Mara Faye Lethem and her mentee Thiago Miller. This is the second time that Mara Faye Lethem takes on the mentor's role.

Mara Faye Lethem has translated novels from the Catalan by Marta Orriols, Jaume Cabré, Albert Sánchez Piñol, Marc Pastor, Toni Sala, Eduard Márquez, and Alicia Kopf, among others. Her work has appeared in Granta, The Paris Review and McSweeney’s, and been recognized with two English PEN Awards and two International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award nominations. She writes the New Catalan Fiction catalogue each year for the Institut Ramon Llull, and wrote the application that earned Barcelona designation as a UNESCO City of Literature. She lives in Barcelona, and is currently working on a novel by Max Besora.

Thiago Miller is a British writer and translator of Catalan literature who holds a BA in Spanish and Portuguese. After stints living in Rio de Janeiro, Banjul, Moscow and Barcelona, he is now happily settled in Lleida in western Catalonia. He has been 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. 

October 17, 2020, 11:00am EST

Mercè Rodoreda: Translating a Catalan Modern Classic

In 2009 Open Letter Books published Death in Spring by Mercè Rodoreda, considered by many to be one of the finest Catalan writers of all times. The English translation, masterfully rendered by Martha Tennent, has been Open Letter's best-selling work ever since. Tennent next received an NEA fellowship for her translation of The Selected Stories of Mercè Rodoreda, and she paired with her daughter, Maruxa Relaño, for the translation of two more Rodoreda novels for Open Letter: War, So Much War, and Garden by The Sea. Join the discussion between Open Letter’s publisher Chad Post and translator Martha Tennent about the complexities of translating in a mother-daughter tandem and the experience of rendering into English this classic author who wrote in Catalan and became a best-seller in English.

Moderator: Chad Post is the director of Open Letter Books at the University of Rochester.

Presenter: Martha Tennent translates primarily from Catalan and Spanish, and has published 14 book-length translations. Born in the US, she has lived most of her life in Barcelona; she was Dean of the School of Translation at the University of Vic. Her work has appeared in Epiphany, Two Lines, Words Without Borders, A Public Space, World Literature Today, PEN America, and Review of Contemporary Fiction.



ALTA43: IN BETWEEN conference begins on September 30 for two and a half weeks of daily events, culminating in a weekend of all-day programming on October 17-18. See here for full schedule.


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