Keith Ekiss and Olivia Sears interview Breon Mitchell about his translation of Günter Grass’s The Tin Drum, the first retranslation of the novel into English since its publication 50 years ago. Mitchell discusses the process of working directly with Grass on the new translation, including the challenges of working with a text that had become so well known in its existing English version. Mitchell also talks about an earlier retranslation project, his publication of Franz Kafka’s The Trial, and about the recent selection of Herta Müller as the recipient of the Nobel Prize.
Breon Mitchell is a professor of Germanic studies and comparative literature and director of the Lilly Library at Indiana University, and a past president of the American Literary Translators Association. He was awarded the Kurt and Helen Wolff Prize for his translation of Uwe Timm’s Morenga in 2004 and his new translation of The Tin Drum has recently been published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. This Art of Translation podcast was recorded in the offices of The Center for the Art of Translation in San Francisco on November 9, 2009.