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International Book Club for Schools
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Our virtual international book club is for language-learners aged 15-18. We discuss a novel in English translation, and the club is open to all those taking an MFL in Years 11-13 / Scotland: S4-6.

We're delighted to announce that registration is now open for our next meeting! If you'd like to attend, please register by completing the following google form: https://forms.gle/ivedPdBh89TdGggz7.

Our next session will be held on Wednesday 6th July at 7pm, and we will be reading The Blacksmith’s Daughter by Selim Özdoğan, translated from German by Ayça Türkoğlu and Katy Derbyshire. It is the first instalment of the Anatolian Blues trilogy, telling the story of Gül, a Turkish girl who grows up in rural 1950s Anatolia and moves to Germany as a migrant worker.

V&Q Books have been kind enough to offer a 50% discount for our Book Club members, and the exclusive discount code will be shared with you over email once you have registered for a place. If your financial situation makes it impossible for you to purchase a copy of the book, please do drop us an email (translation.exchange@queens.ox.ac.uk) and we will do our best to work something out.

The meeting will take place over Zoom, and places are open to UK school pupils in Years 11, 12 and 13. Newcomers are always welcome!

Ayça Türkoğlu is a literary translator working from German and Turkish. She is a member of the Shadow Heroes Translation Collective and co-judge for the 2022 Schlegel-Tieck Prize for Translation from German. Her most recent translations include Selim Özdoğan's Anatolian Blues Trilogy (co-translated with Katy Derbyshire) and Slime: A Natural Historyby Susanne Wedlich. Her translation of Empire of Ants by Susanne Foitzik & Olaf Fritsche was shortlisted for the 2022 Wolff Translator's Prize.

***Please note that if we are oversubscribed for the International Book Club and are required to limit the numbers of attendees, we will select participants based on the contextual data they provide, giving priority to students attending UK state schools.***

 

If you have any questions about the Book Club, please let us know.

All learners of Modern Languages at UK schools in Years 11-13 / Scotland: S4-6 are welcome to join our International Book Club, which takes place on Zoom. 

The International Book Club for schools is a chance for you to explore foreign-language books which have been translated into English with other like-minded, literature-loving students. No knowledge of the original language is required to take part!

For those of you thinking you may like to study languages at university, there will also be a chance to hear more about what this would entail and to ask us your questions. These meetings are a perfect opportunity for you to explore books that aren't on your school syllabus and to engage with some exciting literature in translation.

To take part in the Book Club, you will need to read a copy of the set book in advance of the session. You may like to make some notes on what you've read - the key themes of the text, anything you liked or disliked about the narrative or characters - that you would like to share during the Book Club.

The dates for the International Book Club for 2022 are as follows:
Wednesday 23rd March 2022
Wednesday 6th July 2022
Wednesday 30th November 2022

All sessions are free to attend and will take place at 7pm GMT on Zoom.

NEW: Hold a Translation Exchange Book Club in your school. 

Our Book Club for Schools Guide is a PDF information pack designed to help sixth-formers and/or teachers set up an international book club at their schools. It includes information about how to set up and run a club, and detailed guides to several books that you might choose to discuss. 

Click here to find out more.

  • March 2022 - A Long Way from Douala (French)

    We discussed A Long Way from Douala by Swiss-Cameroonian author Max Lobe, translated by Ros Schwartz from French – and occasionally from Camfranglais, a mixture of French, (Pidgin) English, and indigenous Cameroonian languages including Beti-Fang, Bamileke and Duala, spoken mainly by young people in Cameroon. The book follows the narrator, Jean, and his best friend Simon across the country in search of a runaway older brother hoping to make it as a professional footballer in Europe, and Lobe addresses weighty contemporary issues of migration, terrorism, and sexuality without ever losing the book's sense of humour.

    Ros Schwartz is an award-winning translator from French. Acclaimed for her new version of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, published in 2010, she has over 100 fiction and non-fiction titles to her name and is one of the team retranslating George Simenon’s Maigret novels for Penguin Classics. Most recently she has translated several kidslit titles by Jean-Claude Mourlevat, winner of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Appointed a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2009, in 2017 she was awarded the UK Institute of Translation and Interpreting’s John Sykes Memorial Prize for Excellence.

  • December 2021 - The Town with Acacia Trees (Romanian)

    On Wednesday 15th December 2021 we met to discuss The Town with Acacia Trees by Mihail Sebastian, translated from Romanian by Gabi Reigh

    Mihail Sebastian was the pen-name of the Romanian writer Iosif Hechter. Born in the Danube port of Braila, he died in a road accident in 1945. During the period between the wars he was well-known for his lyrical and ironic plays and for urbane psychological novels tinged with melancholy, as well as for his extraordinary literary essays. His novel For Two Thousand Years is a Penguin Modern Classic.

    Gabi Reigh is a Romanian translator, based in the UK. In 2017 she won the Stephen Spender prize for poetry translation, and in 2019 her translations of poems by Lucian Blaga, Poems of Light, were published. Her translation of ‘The Town with Acacia Trees’ received the prestigious PEN Translation Awards (2019). 

  • July 2021 - The Spectre of Alexander Wolf (Russian)

    On Wednesday 14th July 2021 we met to discuss The Spectre of Alexander Wolf by Gaito Gazdanov, translated from Russian by Bryan Karetnyk.

    ‘Of all my memories, of all my life’s innumerable sensations, the most onerous was that of the single murder I had committed.’

    A man comes across a short story which recounts in minute detail his killing of a soldier, long ago – from the victim’s point of view. It’s a story that should not exist, and whose author can only be a dead man. So begins the strange quest for the elusive writer ‘Alexander Wolf’. A singular classic, The Spectre of Alexander Wolf is a psychological thriller and existential inquiry into guilt and redemption, coincidence and fate, love and death. 

    Bryan Karetnyk is a scholar and a translator of Russian literature. He read Russian and Japanese at the University of Edinburgh, subsequently working as a translator for the Civil Service. His recent work focuses on Russian émigré literature, and his critically acclaimed translations of Gaito Gazdanov include The Spectre of Alexander WolfThe Buddha's Return and The Flight.

  • July 2020 - The Island (Spanish)

    Our first meeting was on  Wednesday 22nd July, 2020. We discussed The Island by Ana María Matute (Penguin Classics), translated from Spanish by Laura Lonsdale. All 50 participants read the book (in English) in advance of the discussion, which took place via Zoom.

    In breakout rooms we had a lively discussion about the book in groups of 8-10, before coming back together for Q&A and discussion about studying languages at university. 

    Read more about the novel

    Buy the book from Blackwell's Online

    Ana María Matute (1925-2014) was an acclaimed and prolific Spanish writer. Alongside her writing she lectured on and wrote about literature, including reflections on the art of translation.

    Laura Lonsdale teaches Spanish at Oxford University and is the Fellow in Spanish at Queen's.