Introduction to Literary Translation

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The workshop will address the mindsets and issues underlying the process of literary translation and is ideal for aspiring translators.

About this Event

The course will cover questions related to the process of literary translation, with topics including: 

  • The Making of a Literary Translation
  • Translating Difficulties
  • The Making of the Translator

Participants will discuss the mindsets underlying the process of literary translation and the strategies specific to the literary translation process. Special attention will be given to Drama Box’s Tanah • Air 水 • 土: A Play in Two Parts, which involved translating between Chinese, Malay, and English.

During the session, topics such as the mindsets underlying the process of literary translation, the approach demanded for literary translation (as opposed to commercial translation), and strategies one can apply to the translation process with be discussed in depth. We will look at challenges specific to the translation of literary works and explore case studies that will help students find ways to apply the mindsets, approaches, and strategies discussed earlier in the session. Particular attention will be given to issues such as the voice and tone of a text.

The final part of the course will examine the making of the translator and how he/she relates to the text, the author, and the industry. It will discuss some ethical issues regarding translation work, such as how to navigate contract negotiations, dealing with conflict, and ensuring that the translator protects the interests of all parties involved in the translation work.

This workshop will be conducted via the Zoom platform. Participants do not need a Zoom account to take part in the workshop.

Kinokuniya members can enjoy 10% off the workshop fee for this programme. Please contact programmes@bookcouncil.sg for the discount code before online registration.

For workshop enquiries, please email programmes@bookcouncil.sg


Shelly Bryant divides her year between Shanghai and Singapore, working as a poet, writer, and translator. She is the author of eleven volumes of poetry (Alban Lake and Math Paper Press), a pair of travel guides for the cities of Suzhou and Shanghai (Urbanatomy), a book on classical Chinese gardens (Hong Kong University Press), and a short story collection (Epigram Books). She has translated work from the Chinese for Penguin Books, Epigram Publishing, the National Library Board in Singapore, Giramondo Books, HSRC, Rinchen Books, and Maclehose Press and edited poetry anthologies for Alban Lake and Celestial Books. Shelly's poetry has appeared in journals, magazines, and websites around the world, as well as in several art exhibitions. Her translation of Sheng Keyi’s Northern Girls was long-listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2012, and her translation of You Jin's In Time, Out of Place was shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize in 2016. Shelly received a Distinguished Alumna Award from Oklahoma Christian University of Science and Arts in 2017.

You can visit her website at shellybryant.com.


The workshop can be cancelled or postponed two weeks before the workshop date if the minimum number of participants is not met. Participants will be fully refunded for workshops cancelled by us.

Participants who are unable to attend a workshop they have registered for are to inform us of the reason two weeks before the workshop date. They will be fully refunded in the event of extenuating and mitigating circumstances (E.g. illness, bereavement, accidents) . Those who inform us up to 5 working days before the workshop date will receive a 50% refund. Those who did not turn up at the workshop will not receive a refund.

Upon registration, you are deemed to have read and understood the cancellation and withdrawal policy and accept the terms contained therein.

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