About this Conference and Conversation Series

Join us for Week 2 of Translating the Future as we continue our series of conversations between renowned translators with "Translating the Uncertain Present," featuring Madhu Kaza in conversation with Lina Mounzer.

For most people on the planet, translation is a key part of everyday life. During the global pandemic crisis, it has become more crucial than ever, both for the information it can convey, and for the comfort a voice speaking one's own language can bring. How does translation heal or cause trauma, confront or abet authoritarianism? Kaza and Mounzer will weigh in from Beirut and Brooklyn, to ponder whether translation is a colonial practice or a decolonizing one. Can literary translation advance and defend human rights? Should it?

Click here or below to watch the video for this event:

The conversations will be hosted by Esther Allen & Allison Markin Powell. *Viewers can submit questions during the livestreaming at [email protected].

Speaker Bios:

Born in Andhra Pradesh, India, Madhu H. Kaza is a writer, translator, artist and educator based in New York City. She is a translator of the feminist Telugu writers Volga and Vimala. Political Stories, her co-translation of a collection of Volga's fiction was published in 2007 in India; other translations and original writing have appeared in Gulf Coast, Guernica, Waxwing, Chimurenga, The Encyclopedia Project, Two Lines and more. She recently edited Kitchen Table Translation, a volume that explores the connections between migration and translation and which features immigrant, diasporic and poc translators. She was the founding director of the Bard Microcollege at Brooklyn Public Library, where she now serves as faculty advisor to the program, and she also teaches in the MFA program at Columbia University.

Lina Mounzer is a writer and translator living in Beirut. Her essays and fiction have appeared in The New York Times, The Paris Review, Literary Hub, Bidoun, and Rusted Radishes, as well as in the anthologies Hikayat: An Anthology of Lebanese Women’s Writing (Telegram Books: 2007) and the forthcoming Tales of Two Planets (Penguin Books: 2020) an anthology of writing on climate change and inequality. She has translated fiction and essays by, among others, the Algerian writer Salah Badis and Lebanese writers Hassan Daoud and Chaza Charafeddine.


WEEK 1: Tue, May 12, 1:30 p.m. (EDT):

From 1970 to 2020: Translation Transformations

David Bellos in conversation with Karen Emmerich (with snippets from the original audio archive of the World of Translation conference).

WEEK 2: Tue, May 19th 1:30 p.m. (EDT):

Translating the Uncertain Present

Madhu Kaza in conversation with Lina Mounzer.

WEEK 3: Tue, May 26th 1:30 p.m. (EDT):

Global Ecopoetics: Poetry, Translation, Climate Change & Public Health

Forrest Gander in conversation with Raquel Salas Rivera.

WEEK 4: Tue, June 2nd 1:30 p.m. (EDT):

Translating for the Future: Children’s Literature in Translation

Lawrence Schimel in conversation with Daniel Hahn, and moderated by Lyn Miller-Lachmann.

Visit Translating The Future page here for the complete Program, video recordings of previous events in this series, as well as archival audio recordings, articles, the original program, and more history from PEN's 1970 World of Translation conference.

This conference and conversation series is co-sponsored by PEN America, the Center for the Humanities at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, with additional support from the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center.