10 Questions for Alex Valente

What writer(s) or works have influenced the way you write now?
This one is hard, as it changes with every text I work on, obviously. I like checking and reading through the influences of my authors to get a sense of their voice in the new language, but I don’t think I’ve found my voice quite yet, just multiple early drafts of it. Especially when I write my own material, I notice some Italianness in my English syntax, and try grasping at the latter when using the former, especially when it comes to vocabulary. I try reading and absorbing as many contemporary voices as possible, especially nonfiction and poetry, and any new writing from marginalised writers and communities within all language landscapes where I lurk – if that helps answering the question at all.

As for translators who inspire me, however, I have always been a big fan of Yasmina Melaouah (Daniel Pennac’s Italian translator) and Ken Liu (one of the biggest names in Chinese specfic translation) and am truly impressed by the work of my colleagues Ginny Tapley Takemori, Deborah Smith, Rosalind Harvey, Lawrence Schimel, Katy Derbyshire, and Jamie Richards.


What did you want to be when you were young?
An artichoke. Because young half-Italian me found that word to be the easier alternative to ‘architect’. I then entertained biodiversity and evolution, classical languages researcher, and ‘English teacher in Italian high schools’. Let’s say I got sidetracked into translation via sociolinguistics (through university), but still kept the language interest going.

full interview available on the MassReview Blog

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