A series of intimate and captivating interviews by Rachel Zucker with poets and artists about quotidian objects, experiences or obsessions, Commonplace conversations explore the recipes, advice, lists, anecdotes, quotes, politics, phobias, spiritual practices, and other non-Literary forms of knowledge that are vital to an artist’s life and work. One feels, when listening to Commonplace, the pleasure of eavesdropping on the kind of unexpected, intriguing connections that only happen when interesting people sit together in a small room and talk about their real concerns and ordinary lives.

Episode 73: Jennifer Croft (Translation Series Ep. 3)

Episode 73: Jennifer Croft (Translation Series Ep. 3)

In this episode Jennifer Croft speaks to Commonplace host Rachel Zucker about her childhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, falling in love with Russian language and Slavic grammar, the accidental way she ended up becoming a translator of Polish (rather than Russian), and how her study of Polish led her to Argentina, the place she feels most herself. Croft describes translating Olga Tokarczuk’s novel Flights (Riverhead, 2018) for which Croft and Tokarczuk won the Man Booker International Prize, her relationship with Tokarczuk, and the pleasures and challenges of her current translation project: translating Tokarcuzk’s thousand-page historical novel, The Books of Jacob, about 18th century figure Jacob Frank. Croft also speaks about the connection between translation and creative writing and her newly-released illustrated novel-memoir, Homesick (Unnamed Press, 2019) which she wrote in Spanish and then again in English. Croft touches on existential questions about being oneself in a place where one has no history and how one’s life is a mysterious interplay of destiny, accident, choice and perseverance.

Jennifer Croft is a writer, translator and critic. She was awarded the Man Booker International Prize in 2018 and a National Book Award Finalist for her translation from Polish of Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights. She is the recipient of Fulbright, PEN, MacDowell, and National Endowment for the Arts grants and fellowships, as well as the inaugural Michael Henry Heim Prize for Translation and a Tin House Workshop Scholarship for her memoir Homesick, just released from Unnamed Press. She holds a PhD from Northwestern University and an MFA from the University of Iowa. She is a founding editor of The Buenos Aires Review and has published her own work and numerous translations in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Granta, VICE, n+1, Electric Literature, and elsewhere. She currently divides her time between Buenos Aires and Los Angeles. [Bio adapted from Unnamed Press and the NEA.]

In this episode Jennifer Croft speaks to Commonplace host Rachel Zucker about her childhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, falling in love with Russian language and Slavic grammar, the accidental way she ended up becoming a translator of Polish (rather than Russian), and how her study of Polish led her to Argentina, the place she feels most herself. Croft describes translating Olga Tokarczuk’s novel Flights (Riverhead, 2018) for which Croft and Tokarczuk won the Man Booker International Prize, her relationship with Tokarczuk, and the pleasures and challenges of her current translation project: translating Tokarcuzk’s thousand-page historical novel, The Books of Jacob, about 18th century figure Jacob Frank. Croft also speaks about the connection between translation and creative writing and her newly-released illustrated novel-memoir, Homesick (Unnamed Press, 2019) which she wrote in Spanish and then again in English. Croft touches on existential questions about being oneself in a place where one has no history and how one’s life is a mysterious interplay of destiny, accident, choice and perseverance.


Books by Jennifer Croft

Homesick (Unnamed Press, 2019)

Books translated by Jennifer Croft

Flights by Olga Tokarczuk (Riverhead Books, 2018)

August by Romina Paula (The Feminist Press at CUNY, 2017)

Lovely, Human, True, Heartfelt: The Letters of Alina Szapocznikow and Ryszard Stanislawski (Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, 2012)

Other Books, Translators and Writers Mentioned in the Episode

Aron Aji

Daniel Weissbort

Antonia Lloyd Jones

Hanna Krall

Claire Cavanagh 

Wisława Szymborska

Stanislaw Baranczak

Maxine Swann

Wiltold Gombrowicz

Other Relevant Links

The NIKE award

Unnamed Press

Boris Dralyuk

The New York Public Library’s Cullman Center

“Gdansk mayor Pawel Adamowicz dies after being stabbed in heart on stage” by Helen Regan and Stephanie Wells, for CNN

“When An Author You Translate Gets Death Threats” by Jennifer Croft, for Lithub

NEA Translation grants

Buenos Aires Review

Music for this episode provided by Payadora


Liner notes

14:25 “La Humilde” Argentine folk song arranged and performed by Payadora.

16:40 Jennifer Croft reads “Birthday” by Wisława Szymborska translated by Wisława Szymborska and Stanislaw Baranczak  

25:51 “Nostalgias Tucumanas” by Atahualpa Yupanqui  arranged by Drew Jurecka and performed by Payadora.

26:30 Jennifer Croft reads from Flights by Olga Tokarczuk (Riverhead Books, 2018)

27:33 “Volando” composed by Rebekah Wolkstein and performed by Payadora.

57:58 Jennifer Croft reads her novel/memoir Homesick in Spanish and English.

1:03:40 “Adios Muchachos” by Julio César Sanders arranged by Rebekah Wolkstein, performed by Payadora.


All audio of Jennifer Croft was recorded by Rachel Zucker in New York City on February 13, 2018 at the Cullman Center. Theme music composed and performed by Nathaniel Wolkstein.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Episode 74: Rachel Zucker's SoundMachine

Episode 74: Rachel Zucker's SoundMachine

Episode 72: Ilya Kaminsky

Episode 72: Ilya Kaminsky