A photograph is a souvenir of life!

— Deborah Smith

The most unforgettable Deborah Smith quotes that will inspire your inner self

I read The Vegetarian and fell in love with it.

A year later, I was invited to go and speak at the London Book Fair (which I'd never even heard of before), as they were gearing up for Korea being the market focus country in 2014. I met Max Porter there, Kang's editor at Portobello, sent him my sample, and the rest is history.

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We are all bodies of water, guarding the mystery of our depths, but some of us have more to guard than others.

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Not only are unpaid internships exploitative, they're one of the main forces keeping publishing in this country a primary white middle-class industry, which has a direct knock-on effect on what gets published and how.

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And to improve access to the UK publishing industry - I'm hoping to set up an internship or work experience for someone from a low-income background, as soon as we have the funds. While we don't have the funds, we won't have an intern.

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Simon Collinson, of digital publisher Canelo and über-cool Aussie mag The Lifted Brow, is our digital producer; Sarah Shin, Verso's comms director, is helping us out with press publicity; Soraya Gilanni, who mainly does production and set design for films and commercials, is our art director.

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The hardest memories are the pieces of what might have been.

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The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful. PROVERBS 12:22

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This and the small sample size inevitably leads to stereotypes - sweeping family sagas from India, 'lush' colonial romances from South-East Asia. Mother and daughter reconciling generational differences through preparing a 'traditional' meal together. Geishas. And even if something more exciting does manage to sneak through, it gets the same insultingly clichéd cover slapped on it anyway, so no one will ever know.

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Instead of fearing what might happen if I failed, I should be excited about what could happen if I succeeded!

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A chorus of tough southern belles whispered, You need a loyal husband around here. Loyal to you, loyal to your family, loyal to your land. I added, Good in bed, smart, and romantic. Politically, socially, and religiously compatible. And he had to want children.

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Plus, publishing's inherent conservatism, means that what little did get through was weighted towards the commercial end of the scale, which is not the kind of writing that excites me.

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Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay is a stylistically daring writer in love with surrealism, credited with being 'the woman who reintroduced hardcore sexuality to Bengali literature'. But though the (male) establishment used this label of erotica to dismiss her work, the sex scenes have exactly the same transgressive function as her use of chronology and narrative voice.

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About Deborah Smith

Quotes 32 sayings
Profession Author
Birthday 1955

Happy people look young. You’re really afraid of getting older, aren’t you? You should only be afraid of getting less happy.

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I first came across her [Bae Suah] when I read some elderly male critic castigating her for 'doing violence to the Korean language', which of course was catnip to me, especially as I'd recently discovered Lispector doing pretty much the same to Portuguese.

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Life doesn't take itself seriously for long. Joy leaves an imprint even in the hardest sorrow.

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Possibly the best thing about the whole experience is that Kang and I are now really good friends. It's as much of a pleasure and privilege to know her as a person as it is to translate her work. She's been over for two UK publicity tours, which means lots of time to chat on trains etc., and she was hear all last summer for a writer's residency in Norwich, where I got to meet her son too.

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I've translated two of Bae's novels, A Greater Music and Recitation, which are coming from Open Letter and Deep Vellum in October and January respectively. A Greater Music is a semi-autobiographical book centred on a Korean writer moving to Berlin, learning to live and even write in a foreign language.

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There’s something very freeing about losing the anchors that have always defined you. Frightening, sad, but exhilarating in a poignant way, as well. You’re free to float to the moon and evaporate or sink to the bottom of the deepest ocean. But you’re free to explore. Some people confuse that with drifting, I suppose. I like to think of it as growing.

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But there's also a strong emotional core to counterbalance the experimentalism, with some incredibly moving passages around the narrator's relationship with her (also female) German teacher. It's beautiful.

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Our first-year list is Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay (translated by Arunava Sinha), Hwang Jung-eun (translated by Jung Yewon), and Khairani Barokka.

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What do you call love, then?" Someone I can't live without.

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I teach Korean translation at the British Centre for Literary Translation summer school, so I see an emerging generation too, who are around my age. I'm hoping to find time to mentor, and to help emerging translators to a first contract through Tilted Axis.

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Alongside Han Kang, there's only one other author I've chosen to translate so far - Bae Suah. Her work is radical both stylistically and politically, influenced by her own translation practice (she's translated the likes of Kafka, Pessoa, and Sadeq Hedayat into Korean). Her language is simply extraordinary.

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I taught myself the first year course while I was on the dole, then moved to London to do an MA at SOAS, which led straight into a PhD.

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There's no linear narrative - the structure is more like a series of variations on a theme (how identity is shaped by language), with the past constantly bleeding into the present, dreams into reality. And the language, while incredibly lyrical in places, also has this underlying dissonance, the sense of it having itself been translated.

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Actually, I'm frequently described as the UK's only translator of Korean literature, but even that isn't accurate - Agnita Tennant is UK-based, Janet Poole is British though lives in Toronto, Brother Anthony was born here though is now a naturalised Korean citizen. There's also Chi-young Kim and Sora Kim-Russell, who are younger and do fiction for commercial houses.

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Wish it, believe it, and it will be so.

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Flattery is a lie covered in a bed of flowery words.

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I suspected learning a language would be both useful and enjoyable (I love memorising lists of things), and would get rid of the embarrassment of being monolingual at 21. I'd been obsessed with reading for as long as I could remember, the only thing I'd ever thought I might want to be was a writer, but I was much better at crafting sentences than at stringing plots together.

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All of which suggested literary translation, and Korean seemed a good bet - barely anything available in English, yet it was a modern, developed country, so the work had to be out there, plus the rarity would make it both easier to secure a student grant and more of a niche when it came to work.

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So the aim for the press was a mixture of things: to publish under-represented writing, which is an intersection of original language, style, content, and often its author's gender. To publish it properly, in a way that makes it clear that this is art, not anthropology. To spotlight the importance of translation in making cultures less dully homogenous.

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