Translating Gay Identities

Translating Gay Identities

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Examine the ethics of translating gay sexual identities

How do you negotiate the translation of gay writers, characters and experiences?

Our panel of professional translators explore the ethics of translating sexual identities, chaired by British Library translator-in-residence Jen Calleja. The panel includes Robert Gillett, co-editor of Queer in Translation, Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, who translated the first Arabic book to be launched in a gay bookshop, and Lawrence Schimel, a writer and translator of queer prose and poetry from Equatorial Guinea, Spain and Zimbabwe.

Robert Gillett is Reader in German and Comparative Cultural Studies, Queen Mary University of London. His research interests include German, Austrian and Comparative Cultural Studies from 1800 to the present day, especially feminist and queer studies, and theatre history. He has made a special study of the German proto-queer writer Hubert Fichte. He has taught translation from German into English, and courses on gender and sexuality studies, for more than 25 years, and is reviews editor of the Yearbook of the Centre for Anglo-German cultural Relations, Angermion.  He has published widely on all things queer, and is co-editor, with Lisa Downing of Queer in Europe and a special issue of Sexualities on European Queer. Together with B J Epstein, he edited the Routledge volume on Queer in Translation.

Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp is a British literary translator and editor, translating from Arabic, German and Russian into English. She has an MA from the University of Oxford, an MA in Translation and Interpreting from the University of Bath and a Postgraduate Diploma in Translation in all three of her language combinations. She is the translator of The Bride of Amman, a social novel exploring gender and sexuality in the Middle East and the first Arabic novel in English translation to have its book launch in an LGBTQ bookshop. She has also translated novels by Hanna Winter and Kathrin Rohmann, and non-fiction books on child psychology, linguistics, the cultural history of horses and the Syrian civil war. She has translated plays from Russia, Syria and Lebanon and several short stories and children's books. Ruth is the Arabic tutor at the literary translation summer school, Translate at City, University of London.

Lawrence Schimel writes in both Spanish and English and has published over 100 books in many different genres – including fiction, poetry, non-fiction, and comics – for both children and adults. His most recent book is the collection of 100 erotic stories Una barba para dos (Dos Bigotes). He has won the Lambda Literary Award (twice), the Spectrum Award, the Independent Publisher Book Award, and other honors. He is also a prolific literary translator. His translation of Bastard Daughter by Trifonia Melibea Obono is forthcoming from The Feminist Press; it will be the first novel by a woman writer from Equatorial Guinea to be published in English. He has recently translated an anthology of LGBT poetry from Spain into English, Versos con orgullo/Proud Poems (Egales), and into Spanish (together with Arrate Hidalgo) an anthology of lesbian poetry from Zimbabwe, Como el viento intocable (Baphala). He lives in Madrid, Spain.


Name: Translating Gay Identities
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546