In March 2011, I was lucky enough to be able to bring German author Larissa Boehning to hold a translation masterclass and reading at the German department in Leeds, giving students an insight into literary translation and publication
On the 28th of March 2011, German author Larissa Boehning held a translation masterclass and a reading at the Leeds German department, accompanied by her translator Lyn Marven, who is also an academic at the University of Liverpool.
Students from all undergraduate levels and Masters students really enjoyed coming together to tackle particularly tricky translation problems in Boehning’s new unpublished novel, ‘The Song of the Cicadas’, and to bounce their ideas off Boehning and Marven.
Afterwards, Boehning held a reading from the novel, and she discussed political issues in her work with academics from the Department of German, Russian and Slavonic Studies. She also discussed her writing style and how she tackles the big issues in European history, from Stalin’s purges to the US occupation of Germany, while maintaining a focus on individual stories and family tales in her writing. Boehning’s work explores the way in which family histories and the histories of Europe criss-cross each other.
The event was a great opportunity for students of German literature and translation to see the work of a young writer and translator in action, and to get a taster of the professional literary translation process. As a result of this and other events, several students are now considering literary translation as a career. Larissa Boehning is just one in a series of distinguished German literary guests at the School of Modern Languages and Cultures in Spring 2011.
About Larissa Boehning
Larissa Boehning received great critical acclaim with her debut collection of short stories ‘Schwalbensommer’ and her novel ‘Lichte Stoffe’, about the experiences of the daughter of a black GI growing up in suburban Germany. She was trained in cultural studies, philosophy and art history. After four years in Palma de Mallorca, she has been back in Berlin since 2007. In 2000 she won Jetzt magazine’s short-story contest, and in 2002 the Prenzlauer Berg Literature Prize. ‘Lichte Stoffe’ received an award in 2007 for best German-language debut novel. Boehning regularly teaches creative and literary writing at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf.