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Project:

Translation of the Amharic Novel, Tobiya (1908) into English

African-language literatures have long and deep histories in their societies but take place within fenced literary spaces and typically are unavailable to world literature audiences. As a scholar and translator, I have always endeavored to bridge this gap between African-language authorship and the global readership, by translating African poetry and fiction into the English language. Especially after my well-received translation of the first Eritrean, Tigrinya-language novel, The Conscript (2013), I also wanted to translate the first Ethiopian, Amharic-language novel, Tobiya (written in Amharic in 1908) by Afeworq Gebre Iyesus. Beyond its historical significance, Tobiya is paramount for its literary and linguistic qualities as well as for the understanding of Ethiopia’s history and culture at the intersections of (pre-colonial) tradition and modernity. Written in “deep” idiom, Tobiya deals with the confrontation between so-identified “Christian” and “barbarian” peoples and nations, and depicts the dynamics and stakes of ethno-racial, religious and territorial wars in an early African political geography. It also alarms about the dangers of misunderstanding and lack of reconciliation, a reminder important then, as it is now.

 

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Is any information on this page incorrect or outdated? Please notify Ms. Nel-Mari Loock at [email protected].