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Found in translation: the English-language writers who succeed abroad


Authors Donna Leon, Laura Kasischke and Simon Beckett ponder the happy mysteries of scoring hits with foreign-language readers

For the American writer Laura Kasischke, the first inkling of her second life in France came when a former student wrote to say her portrait was on the cover of Le Monde. Kasischke was teaching creative writing at a community college in Michigan, with two collections of poetry and a couple of novels already under her belt. But when her first novel appeared in France as À Suspicious River in 1999, it launched a spectacular literary career in translation that took her completely by surprise and is still going strong nearly two decades on.

Today, Kasischke is better known in the US as a poet, winning prizes including the National Book Critics Circle award for her 2011 collection Space, in Chains – though she jokes that in the US no one is really well-known for their poetry.

Europeans read serious fiction in great numbers, and it is common to hear people speak seriously about literature

I was boarding a plane when someone ran after me shouting my name. I thought there must be a problem with my ticket

I think reading a translation is an act of faith

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