Translating Eastern European Science Fiction (Part 1)

Translating Eastern European Science Fiction: Stanislaw Lem and Beyond: A Conversation With Michael Kandel (Part 1)

by Chris Clarke

“So anyway, I think I wrote an article about Lem and Cybernetics. And I think what happened was I sent him a copy of the article saying, you know, I’m a fan of yours. And he said, Oh, this is really great! I’m having trouble with a publisher in the United States, and there’s this translation that needs work, could you possibly help?”

In late March of 2022, I sat down for a lengthy Zoom conversation with longtime translator and editor Michael Kandel. Best known for his translations of the Polish master of science fiction, Stanislaw Lem, Kandel translated a dozen of Lem’s books between 1973 and 1995, several of which have recently been reprinted by MIT Press; he also translated a number of other Polish SF authors, and was himself the author of four novels in the early 1990s. After a long and productive career, Kandel has since retired and relocated from Long Island to Florida. I have transcribed our conversation to share with Hopscotch’s readers, removing a few wandering divagations of my own and trimming away some of our opening niceties. Part Two of this conversation will follow in a few weeks.

Chris Clarke: Hello, Michael! So, the idea for this conversation came about after an interesting realization. One of the things I’m involved with in my spare time is a journal, Hopscotch Translation, and we publish a weekly piece about translation, or related to translation: writing about or by a literary translator. During one of our editorial conversations, we were putting together a prompt for a forum we were going to do with some of our contributors for our anniversary issue. And the question that came up was this: Who is the translator that you’ve read the most, who works from a language that you know nothing about? And I thought on it, and I thought on it, and, you know, at first thought, William Weaver came to mind, and then I thought, well, you know, I work with French, I can muddle through Italian, that’s kind of cheating. And then it dawned on me, you know what? Before I even really understood what translation was, I read an awful lot of Michael Kandel books. I did! I have a full run of all of those [Stanislaw] Lem hardcovers, which I put together over years and years and years. And I know now that a number of other people translated certain ones as well. But yours was the dominant voice that I would have read at that time, you were the voice of Lem for me. And I still don’t know the first thing about Polish. So you’ll have to continue to play that role.

So, off the top, thanks very much for all of those books because I’ve greatly enjoyed them over the years. In fact, I’ve been rereading some of them, now that I’ve finished my PhD and can go back to other literary pursuits that are not related to contemporary French literature in any way. I’ve been rereading hard boiled crime from the ‘50s, and my fascination for Eastern European science fiction has bloomed once again, I’ve been reading a lot of early weird tales, basically anything that’s completely different from what I just did for eight years. To get back to enjoying to read again, when I don’t have to, you know? The other interesting coincidence I found, when I was reading the article that you sent me [“It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing”][1], was when you mentioned how you first got interested in translation. And the coincidence there is, it was actually Pushkin, for me as well. You mentioned Julian Tuwim and his translations of Pushkin that made it really click for you that there was something different going on with them; that some people are able to bring poetry across in different ways. While others, no matter […]

Michael Kandel: Well, you’ve heard the phrase: “Poetry is that which is lost in translation” [laughs]. It’s extremely rare, for a poet—it’s usually a poet that translates another poet—for it to be successful. Usually, it’s not great, it’s quite rare that it happens.

CC: A flat approximation at best. Yes, it was Pushkin for me as well, which is ironic because I don’t read Russian. But Pushkin also wrote in French, so in fact, I was reading one of those black-spined Penguins, a translation of Pushkin’s [Eugene] Onegin. And what eventually struck me was: how is it possible that [the translator] ended up with rhyming verse for two hundred and however many pages? Did it also rhyme in Russian? Obviously, it couldn’t have rhymed in the same way. It became clear that someone had done something that was preserving something in a completely different way. This opened my eyes a bit. And then I found a volume of Pushkin’s shorter poetry, and in the back was a section of pieces he had written in French. I had been reading French since I was a child, and I was able to look at those and see, side by side, wait a minute… This isn’t the same poem! I see what he’s doing… but it’s not the same poem. And that really made something click for me, it got me curious and got the wheels turning. That’s an interesting coincidence.

Now I’d like to talk about your work in translation. My first question is about how you got started with Lem. According to an interview that you did with Maria Khodorkovsky in 2015, your work translating Lem began as a “fan letter to a beloved author [that] developed, over the course of two decades, into a working relationship […] that would introduce a generation of readers to the darkly imaginative worlds of interstellar explorer Ijon Tichy, the indefatigable constructors Trurl and Klapaucius, and scores of fantastical creations that hold a mirror to society.”[2] Do you mind elaborating a bit on these beginnings, on how you discovered Lem’s writing, and, in particular, on your working relationship with Lem over the years? I’m very curious what your contact with him was like during that period.

MK: I had decided to go for a PhD in Polish literature. And at the time, there really was not, in the Slavic department, in Bloomington, a person that I could work with. So I was kind of on my own. And when I was in Warsaw, in, well, you know, a long time ago, someone got me the PhD reading list from Warsaw University, for a PhD in Polish literature. So I figured, well, if I read that reading list, that’s got to be good enough. So I read a lot of stuff. And one of the things toward the end of the list was some works by Lem. And I said, Oh, this is science fiction. Wow! This is this is going to be fun, because I grew up reading science fiction, you know…

CC: And seeing it excluded from all academic pursuits at the same time!

MK: Well, I just thought… I read The Invincible, which is a really very powerful, terrific book. And I had a hard time because there were all these words that I couldn’t find in the Polish dictionary. And later on, someone said, they’re not in any Polish dictionary because this is science fiction. He made up these terms. So anyway, I think I wrote an article about Lem and Cybernetics. And I think what happened was I sent him a copy of the article saying, you know, I’m a fan of yours. And he said, Oh, this is really great! I’m having trouble with a publisher in the United States, and there’s this translation that needs work, could you possibly help? And that’s how I got involved in putting some of his work into English. So I think it was with…

CC: Memoirs Found in a Bathtub.

MK: That was the work, yes. And then it was Seabury Press, then it was Harcourt. And actually, I eventually ended up later becoming an editor at Harcourt.

CC: After you translated for them or before?

MK: Yes. After.

CC: And did you continue to be in touch with Lem after that first introduction?

MK: Well, what would happen is that I would send him drafts of translations. So, for example, if I was doing Star Diaries or something like that, I might send him a story that I had translated, and then he would respond. He might say, well, this works… He knew English pretty well. And so it was a long correspondence.

CC: Wonderful. I did have my own single contact with Stanislaw Lem. Much more indirect. This is when I was first reading him, which would have been the early 2000s, and I was devouring everything I could find, but a lot of it was out of print, and I was looking to see what else there was that hadn’t been done. If there was more that was going to be done. And his son, at that point, had a website for him online.

MK: I think he still does.

CC: Tomasz, I think his name was…

MK: That’s right.

CC: …and one of the posts that he put up on the website was, “How can I get a signed Stanislaw Lem book?” and he had made a little essay contest. And so, on a whim, as a fan, I churned out a little piece and sent it in and—I don’t have it anymore, I don’t even know exactly what I did—it was kind of a pastiche piece where I think I explained the history of [Lem’s cosmonaut] Ijon Tichy from the point of view of an eminent professor in the Department of “Tichology,” far in the future, and I did my best to really take on that pastiche of faux academic speech. Apparently he only sent out two of them, but here it is, the pride and joy of my book collection.

MK: Oh that’s great!

CC: You were at Harcourt, then, for a number of years. But I suppose after the Seabury Press books, about the same time you started translating for Harcourt?

MK: It was, at first, Seabury, then it was Harcourt. And I translated Lem for Harcourt and then I worked at Harcourt, then Helen and Kurt Wolff Books, and I was the manuscript editor for a lot of translations, like William Weaver and Michael Henry Heim and Ralph Manheim were people that I actually worked with, because they were the translators of these works that Harcourt was publishing.

CC: As well as the [Italo] Calvino books and…

MK: Yes!

CC: I had a question specifically about that… Did you find that your work as a literary translator was complementary to your work as an editor? And did your work as an editor inform your work as a translator?

MK: Well, I think that it all kind of gets mixed together.

CC: It’s hard to compartmentalize the two…

MK: I think that the piece I sent you points out that you really can’t draw a line between author, translator, editor. You know, there are a lot of things that kind of overlap.

CC: I also read a short essay by you that I found reposted on Ursula Le Guin’s blog.

MK: On how to be an editor…

CC: …or how futile it is to be an editor!

MK: Yeah, yeah [laughs].

CC: Your slightly pessimistic view on editing, and on translating in general, seemed complementary as well. Yet, these are things that you spent your life working on. Realism, maybe…

MK: Writers, generally, if you tell someone that you’re a writer, they think that you’re rich, which is really kind of silly. There are some writers who become rich, but there are very few. And there are a lot of really good writers who are funded by a spouse or by a teaching job or in some other way, or they’re just in debt… and these are people whose names are known.

CC: Yes. I know a lot of translators these days, and many of them, if they’re well established, are also professors and the university is paying their salary, or their spouse has a real job [laughs] and affords them the luxury of spending time doing these things for peanuts.

The question that comes to me from that thought: one of the things you brought to the foreground in that article on editing was of course the publisher’s concern with selling books. First and foremost, this always has to be a concern. Is there a bit of a disconnect, do you think, between literary translators and publishing house editors, in their nature? Whereas a publisher must be concerned, perhaps above all else, with whether a book will sell, often a translator will bring a book to a publisher with the feeling that the book ought to be translated, regardless of whether or not it will sell a great number of copies. And I suppose there has to be a shift in this, from the majors to the independent publishing houses, who maybe have more of a desire or a mission to have works translated that they think are crucial, all the while knowing full well… A poetry publisher, for example, may strongly feel that a certain poet is important, but that he or she won’t sell more than a few hundred or a thousand copies, but they’ll decide to do it anyways. How do you see the discrepancy there, having been on both sides of it?

MK: Well, I mean, if a poet becomes… wins a Nobel Prize and a publisher might be interested in publishing that poet in translation, not to make money but just so they are “the publisher of,” so it increases their reputation. So you could say it’s kind of…

CC: A cultural capital kind of thing….

MK: Kind of, yeah, sometimes down the road it can convert into actual money, but usually, publishers lose money on literary books, and they know it. And there’s always a constant pressure and problem with that.

CC: It’s also a question of timing… Quite often we see—as you pointed out in one of your essays—books that catch on years later. I think your example was [José] Saramago, but my thoughts go to someone like [Louis-Ferdinand] Céline, who was translated for Little, Brown [in the 1930s] and it all went out of print with nobody buying it, only to be picked up again by other publishers, those same translations, some thirty years later, after the war.

MK: Absolutely, absolutely, there are a lot of examples of that. Somehow, something takes off and someone becomes a hit. And… [laughs] it’s just unpredictable, and it could be fifteen, twenty years later, and that happens.

CC: In that same article, you wrote—this is a while ago— you refer to the editor as a literary gatekeeper. Did your work as a translator in any way influence the way you worked as a gatekeeper of literature? Did it lead you to look more closely at proposals for translation projects, or English language works that stood a bit further afield from what the market was tending towards at the time?

MK: Well, a lot of publishers don’t really have an understanding of a translator as an author, kind of a secondary author. It’s just someone that… “We need this job done, do it as quickly as possible, and do it as cheaply as possible.” It’s just a kind of, you know, “take care of this for us.” And so a lot of translators, for example, even literary translators, do not end up being mentioned on the book’s cover or even on the title page of a book. That’s sort of normal. So I don’t know if you’re interested or if you’re involved with PEN America. But that was one of the issues they had, where a translator is an author and should be seen as one.

CC: I think things are starting to change a bit on that front. I know that there’s been a lot of noise about it lately. Especially now that the Booker [International Prize] co-names and co-awards the translator, and a lot of independent publishers, at least, have moved to making sure that the translator’s name appears on the cover, as opposed to just on the back or inside. There are a few of these Lem books, I went looking through them, and in fact I still don’t know who translated them.

MK: Well, sometimes you don’t know, because sometimes a translation comes to the publisher and it’s so dreadful that there are several hands that are trying to piece it together, to repair it or make it respectable, and they don’t know, the translator isn’t even mentioned. That happens.

CC: On the other hand, what I do see as well is the role of the translator, at least these days, in kind of informing the publisher about what’s out there. As far as literature that’s not in English, I know that I have a number of friends or acquaintance now at publishing houses who will regularly reach out to me to ask me about this author or that, or I’ll bring one to their attention, now that they know that my work is reputable and…

MK: That’s true, and that’s a valuable role to be played. Absolutely. And I guess I might have pointed Harcourt to some books that I liked by Lem, and they said, Okay, do that, you know, because they had the rights. But a lot of times, a mistake that a lot of people make is they love a book, and they spend a year or two translating it, and then they go to a publisher. But the publisher may not have the rights for it. And basically, they can’t touch it.

CC: Yes, I’ve been there.

MK: And that happens a bit!

CC: I learned my lesson early on, in fact, when I translated a book for a small publisher who hadn’t yet acquired the rights, but had told me that they were working on it. And I finished the book and turned it in, and a few weeks later, that author won the Nobel Prize.

MK: [laughs]

CC: The French publisher promptly told that small publishing house, “Yeah, you can’t have it. You’re not big enough. You don’t have the distribution for it. You’re not going to print enough copies. You can’t afford the advance…” I was fortunate that the publisher went to bat for me, they were really great, as well a French writer friend who worked for that same French publisher, and I ended coming to an agreement with the American publisher that bought it at Frankfurt or wherever. I was fortunate, but it could have been six months of work down the drain only to see someone else turn around and do it.

MK: Definitely, that happens. Translators often don’t have much attention or clout or they’re… they’re invisible. And I guess I made the point that, in a way, that’s not a bad thing, because an editor or a translator should be behind the scenes. The whole point is to introduce a writer to a public: here’s a great book or a great writer.

CC: I read the argument that you made, and it was well argued, I respect that. I’m not going to argue the point with you at all, even though I feel a little bit differently in certain respects. But I did see, however… You do state that clearly, but then you go on to say that a translator also has to take some agency during the translation where, not only do they have to be subservient to the author, but they have to be willing to leap in and make some decisions because of the differences between languages. So it’s really a tight-wire thing where you have to… the translator, if he or she can inject some of their own, and that’s going to be required at some point, not some of their own writing, exactly, but some of their creativity and their own creative solutions. If they can do so in a way that the reader doesn’t notice so much that it’s them and not Stanislaw Lem, then it’s successful.

MK: I think both editors and translators have to be assertive enough to do their job, to do the job they should do, rather than be passive and say, Well, this is what the author did. What can I do? You know, my hands are tied! That’s not a good editor. That’s not a good translator.

CC: I did enjoy some of [the examples in your essay] of editors trying to fix things that just really shouldn’t have been fixed.

MK: And sometimes, sometimes… they should be fixed! And the editor should stand up and say to the author, risking the wrath of the author: this is a mistake! Most authors don’t like to hear that.

CC: No, they don’t! [laughs] I’ve found, having gone through ten books with different editors at this point, that if you have a good reason, and you can explain it, that means you’ve thought it through. And usually that’s enough to convince them. If you can’t explain it, or you didn’t notice it, then please, by all means, I’ve made a mistake.

Now, reading to prepare for this conversation, because I haven’t read Lem in a little while, I did a little digging around to see what was already out there with you. I found a few short pieces and I read some reviews. And one thing that it reminded me is that when people write about Lem, and write about Michael Kandel and Lem, there are often a couple of other authors who are mentioned, or who are lurking in the background… and they’re some of my favorites as well, but it seems that the reception of Lem has connections or certain things attached to it in America. First and foremost, repeated mentions of Philip K. Dick. Second, and not quite as frequently, a connection drawn between Lem and Boris and Arkady Strugatsky. With the latter, I think the connection is more evident: the Strugatsky brothers were also science fiction writers from Eastern Europe, writers from behind the “Iron Curtain,” in those days. Like Lem, their best-known work was also filmed by [Andrei] Tarkovski. And finally, during roughly the same period that Lem’s work was being translated and published, first by Seabury, then by Harcourt, the Strugatsky Brothers’ books were being translated and published in the “Best of Soviet Science Fiction” series that Theodore Sturgeon was editing for Macmillan. So, before moving on to a question about the Dick and Lem connection, here’s one about these two more or less concurrent runs of publication. A few short stories by the Strugatsky Brothers were published in English early on, in anthologies like the Soviet Science Fiction[3] paperback that had Asimov’s name attached to it, for example, or there was one that Judith Merril was involved in.[4] These early examples were often originally published by Moscow’s Foreign Languages Publishing House in the early 1960s, and then reprinted by Collier or whoever, later on. Macmillan didn’t launch their [Best of] Soviet Science Fiction series until 1977, though, by which point more than half a dozen of Lem’s books had been published in English. Do you feel that the early translations of Lem’s books, from Solaris in 1970 through your major translations of the mid-seventies, that these helped to open a door to science fiction from that part of the world, into the United States marketplace? Are there other examples that I’m not thinking of? 

MK: In other words, because Lem became a successful science fiction writer, is that why people were interested in Soviet or Russian science fiction?

CC: I mean, prior to that, were we reading any science fiction in the U.S. at that period that wasn’t American or British, really?

MK: Well, I don’t know. I mean, you could argue that there’s a short novel by [Yevgeny] Zamyatin called We. You could say that that’s science fiction. And it’s really a pretty respectable book. But generally, people don’t bill it that way. So it kind of depends on the person.

CC: It’s just old enough as well, that maybe gets shuffled into that classics section instead?

MK: Oh, no. I mean, Karel Čapek, who wrote several science fiction books…

CC: R.U.R., War with the Newts

MK: A science fiction play that created the word “robot” that we use around the world, that was a Czech Slavic word. You don’t think of him as part of the science fiction genre, even though he belongs there. So I don’t know. I think Lem is maybe treated separately?

CC: I sold books for a number of years before I went back to school. And I found there as well that those readers who tended towards Lem instead of Asimov, or Bradbury, or whatever it was, were often also interested in the Strugatskys.

As for the rest of that line, well, Sturgeon did his best to add some additional names to the Russian science fiction list—beyond the Strugatskys—adding or supplementing them with works by Kirill Bulychev, [Dmitri] Bilenkin, [Vladimir] Savchenko, and so on. I remember some of them being pretty good, especially some short fiction by a fellow called Sever Gansovsky. Still, I don’t know that any of them really made any headway in the American market, whereas a number of the Strugatsky books are back in print. And there have been recent additions in translation. Lem is now back in print at MIT [Press], which is how I ended up getting in touch with you; these are suddenly being reissued, with some new ones being translated as well. Finally, a new translation of The Invincible—we can talk about those relay translations in a moment.

So Lem and the Strugatskys tend to go hand in hand, whether or not [there’s any real similarity]. I mean, there are certain similarities between some of their books. We might find a parallel between [Lem’s] Memoirs Found in a Bathtub and The Futurological Congress, and something like [the Strugatskys’s] The Tale of the Troika, these kind of over-the-top Soviet bureaucracy nightmare novels.

MK: You’re right. I agree.

CC: Now, how about Philip K. Dick? I suppose they had a little bit of overlap, too. I know that Lem, who wrote about the Strugatsky’s Roadside Picnic, also wrote a short piece on Dick, and was involved in some capacity with the translation of some of Dick’s work for the Polish marketplace.

MK: He wrote a big, big book of essays on science fiction, and responded to a lot of American science fiction, which he read. And he was a pretty good critic, I think. He often tended to be negative, which the science fiction writers didn’t like, because they felt that he was hurting their sales or something. I don’t know. And then there was a personal problem between Philip K. Dick and Lem, I think Philip K. Dick said that Lem didn’t exist or something like that.

CC: I read about that, the notorious letter to the FBI during Dick’s psychosis period.

MK: Very strange. There is actually another Polish science fiction writer, who is actually a lot like Philip K. Dick in that you’re kind of in an unreal world, and it’s like you’re in a play, and there are all these indications that what’s happening isn’t really real, it’s being staged. That’s a very Dickian idea, you know, this kind of conspiracy of what is really real, that kind of thing. But that author is not known, and I think he wrote a couple of books and then committed suicide. He was a real nut, this other author.[5] 

CC: Well, I think Dick was pretty out there as well, by his last decade or so, with the pink lasers from the sky and what have you. Yeah, I guess there’s a similarity between Lem and Dick, one could argue that philosophy is often at the root of what they’re digging at. Whereas I think with Dick, the background idea came first and the novel was sometimes constructed on top of the idea, in a lot of his better works, especially during those 1960s and early ‘70s books, before he became so paranoid. I find with Lem, as well, there’s a lot of big thinking.

MK: Well, certainly a theme in Lem’s work is the problem of virtual reality, and not knowing how you can tell whether something is really happening or isn’t, that kind of thing. And that, well, there are similarities between that and Philip K. Dick.

CC: I remember that another rumor about Lem from that period was that he did come to the United States once, or was invited to come for an award ceremony of some sort…

MK: He was invited. Yeah, he chose not to; he felt he wasn’t famous enough and didn’t want to be just an unknown author coming to the United States, so he refused the invitation.

CC: So, to go alongside my mention of Sturgeon trying to add some further Russians to this group [of Soviet science fiction writers] around the Strugatskys, I note as well that you’ve done a bit of the same with other Polish science fiction writers, including Marek Huberath, and then the Polish Book of Monsters, which you edited and translated in 2010. Do you have any favorites among these writers? Is there someone in particular that we should try out, if and when we run out of Lem books?

MK: Well, I spent a particular amount of time with Huberath. And I don’t know whether you saw it, but there’s a story of his that was translated, which is up on Words Without Borders.[6] I had trouble with Huberath, we had an agent for him, but he didn’t respond and he didn’t sign his contract. This was with Harcourt. And he just wouldn’t sign the contract. I guess he thought that we were going to steal something from him or something, I don’t know. And eventually Harcourt decided not to publish the translation which I had already made of his book. At that point, I paid whatever money it was to get the rights to the translation, so that I could maybe have it published elsewhere, which it finally was by an electronic publisher in Brooklyn called Restless Books.[7] 

CC: Sure, I know them. Thanks, I’ll look into that. That sounds good!

MK: And that was who brought that book out when it finally was published. And I said to the author, if you sign the contract with Restless Books for this translation, I will translate this story for you for Words Without Borders, and he finally said yes.

CC: Good, good! I’ll look into him, and I’ll recommend him to our readers as well!

To circle back to something that was mentioned at the beginning, your first Lem translation was published in 1973. Billed, in the book, as a co-translation with Christine Rose, Memoirs Found in a Bathtub. So am I to understand from what you said earlier, then, that this was less an intentional co-translation, and more a case of you being called in to rework one that wasn’t clicking?

MK: Yeah… So I guess my function, partly, I was looking at the Polish. But by and large, I was just kind of rewriting the English. And a lot of people didn’t like that. They resented that. Some people said, take my name off the book, you know, they really had a problem with it. Which I can understand.

CC: It’s a tough situation for the publisher, though… If it doesn’t work, it can’t be published. So what do you do?

MK: As a manuscript editor, often, if I felt that some work was needed, I did the work. And it wasn’t always met with approval.

CC: Sometimes they felt you were overstepping your bounds?

MK: Absolutely. And it’s possible that I was.

CC: It’s a tricky situation! I know you’ve edited translations, it’s a slow process. It’s a tricky process.

So to follow up on that, then, I noted that that book is mentioned on your Wikipedia page, but the other two similarly-billed ones that I see in my collection are More Tales of Pirx the Pilot, and then later, Peace on Earth, which state that they were translated by Louis Iribarne and Elinor Ford, respectively. And either “with” or “with the assistance of” Michael Kandel. Were these similar situations, or was this different, and you were working together from the outset?

MK: No, not from the outset. It was an example of my coming in afterward and kind of rearranging the furniture. And that’s sort of what I did I, you know, I was a rearranger…

CC: Yes, but a rearranger coming from the position of someone who’s already done eight of them. At that point, you know where the furniture needs to go, to a certain extent.

MK: Well, I thought I did. And maybe I did, but if you talk to some people, they might not agree. I’ve had people… When I was working for the Modern Language Association, I had two statements over my desk and one was “You’re the best editor in the world.” And the other one was, “You’re the worst editor in the world.” It all depends on the author…

The second installment of this interview, coming soon to Hopscotch Translation, will delve further into Michael Kandel’s translations of Stanislaw Lem, including some detailed examples of the difficulties involved, a discussion on relay translations, as well as talk about what it does to a writer to translate such a quantity of work by a single author. Stay tuned!


[1] Michael Kandel, “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing,” Times of Mobility: Transnational Literature and Gender in Translation. Edited by Jasmina Lukić, Sibelan Forrester & Borbála Faragó. CEU Press, 2019.

[2] Maria Khodorkovsky, “Trying to Build a Tower That Reaches Heaven: Interview With Translator Michael Kandel.” ALTA Beyond Words, 14 July 2015.

[3] Soviet Science Fiction. Editor unknown, introduction by Isaac Asimov. A translation of Der Bote aus dem All (1960). Collier, 1962.

[4] Path into the Unknown. Edited by Judith Merril. Delacorte Press, 1968.

[5] Kandel is referring to Adam Wiśniewski-Snerg (1937-1995), author of Robot (1973), recently published in an English translation by Tomasz Mirkowicz (Penguin, 2021).


[7] Marek S. Huberath, Nest of Worlds, Restless Books, 2014.

Michael Kandel got a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures at Indiana University, taught Russian literature at George Washington University, worked as an editor for Harcourt and then for the Modern Language Association. He translated science fiction (Stanislaw Lem), acquired a few science fiction authors for Harcourt (e.g., Jonathan Lethem, Ursula K. Le Guin), and authored a few science fiction books for Bantam and St. Martin’s.

Chris Clarke is a literary translator and scholar currently based in Philadelphia, where he teaches French. His translations include work by Raymond Queneau, Ryad Girod, and Éric Chevillard. His translation of Marcel Schwob’s Imaginary Lives was awarded the French-American Foundation Translation Prize for Fiction in 2019, and his translation of Nobel Prize winner Patrick Modiano’s In the Café of Lost Youth was a finalist for the same award in 2017.

Originally published on Hopscotch Translation
Tuesday, June 7, 2022

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