SOAS University of London

Centre for Translation Studies

Close to a State of Linguistic Weightlessness: On Translating Bae Suah

Deborah Smith (Korean-English translator, Publisher/Editor at Tilted Axis Press)

Date: 23 February 2017Time: 6:00 PM

Finishes: 23 February 2017Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Paul Webley Wing (Senate House) Room: SOAS Alumni Lecture Theatre (SALT 110)

Type of Event: Seminar


The talk will focus on some of the practical issues encountered when translating Recitation, a novel by South Korean author Bae Suah, whose own practice as a translator (from German to Korean) informs both the language and ideas of her own fiction. In particular, the discussion will take in the search for equivalences of effect given the relative power / political connotations of different languages, and the difficulties of retaining the 'strangeness' and idiosyncrasies of an experimental author while managing the expectations of a US editor and readers.


Deborah Smith studied for an MA and PhD in Korean literature at SOAS. Her translations of Korean literature include The Vegetarian and Human Acts by Han Kang, and A Greater Music and Recitation by Bae Suah. In 2015 Deborah founded Tilted Axis Press to publish contemporary Asian literature. In 2016 her translation of The Vegetarian won the Man Booker International Prize, an LTI Korea Award and an Arts Foundation Award.

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