British Centre for Literary Translation

Sebald Lecture

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Boris Akunin

Paradise Lost: Confessions of an Apostate Translator

Boris Akunin gave the 2013 Sebald Lecture at Kings Place, London on 4 February 2013.

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Boris Akunin is one of the most widely read authors in Russia, and has been compared to Gogol, Tolstoy and Arthur Conan Doyle. His best-selling detective novels are translated into English by Andrew Bromfield. But in his previous life, Boris Akunin was Grigory Chkhartishvili, a translator of Japanese literature into Russian.

In his lecture, he talked about his love for translating, how translating both helped and hindered his work as a writer, and why he misses it now.

Read our Seven Questions for Boris Akunin

The evening also included include readings and presentations of the annual Translation Prizes administered by the Society of Authors.

Find out more about the  2012 Translation Prize winners at the Society of Authors website

The Sebald Lecture is given annually on an aspect of literature in translation. Previously known as the St Jerome Lecture, the lecture was renamed in honour of the founder of BCLT, the late W G Sebald (1944–2001) who died just as his remarkable voice was beginning to reach a wider public. ‘Max’ was a German writer who opted to live in the UK and continue writing in German. His novels and essays include The Rings of Saturn, The Emigrants, Austerlitz, and On the Natural History of Destruction and established him as a leading writer of the 20th century.

Previous speakers have included Sean O’Brien, Ali Smith, Will Self, Seamus Heaney, Marina Warner, Susan Sontag, Carlos Fuentes, Louis de Bernières, David Constantine and Hans Magnus Enzensberger.