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(Hybrid) Translation Slam! Featuring Tess Lewis and Daniel Levin Becker

Wed February 14 @ 19 h 30 - 20 h 30


Seasoned translators Tess Lewis and Daniel Levin Becker will face off at the Library for a Valentine’s evening of multilingual competition.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to translate a beloved work of literature from one language to another? How do translators preserve the integrity of the source? From grammar, to style, to sound, what challenges does a new language bring to a text? Are you eager to try your hand at the task? Join us for an evening of  Valentine’s-themed live translation, featuring American Library in Paris Scholar of Note Tess Lewis, award-winning translator of Anne Weber’s Epic Annette and Maja Haderlap’s Angel of Oblivion, and Daniel Levin Becker, acclaimed translator of Laurent Mauvignier’s The Birthday Party. Supplied with an original French text written by Bill François, deemed ‘Cyrano de Bergerac Junior’, and competing against ChatGPT, Lewis and Levin Becker will offer their own translations of an original French text and be called to defend their choices. Audience members will be able to ask questions, propose their own translations, and vote for the most successful approach. The winner takes away a box of chocolates; the loser, a broken heart. 

Don’t miss the rare opportunity to see translation in action, learn about AI’s impact on the practice, develop your own perspective, and share a conversation heart or two.

About the speakers:

Tess Lewis is a writer and translator from French and German. Her translations include works by Montaigne, Philippe Jaccottet, Christine Angot, Peter Handke, Walter Benjamin and Cécile Wajsbrot. She is the recipient of the 2017 PEN Translation Award for her translation of Maja Haderlap’s novel Angel of Oblivion, two NEA Translation Fellowships and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her essays and reviews have appeared in a number of journals and newspapers including the New Criterion, the Hudson ReviewWorld Literature Today, the Wall Street Journal, the American Scholar, and Bookforum. She is an Advisory Editor for the Hudson Review. In 2022, she was a Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. She is a 2023-24 American Library in Paris Scholar of Note.

Daniel Levin Becker is a writer, translator, and music critic. He is the author of Many Subtle Channels and What’s Good: Notes on Rap and Language and the translator of several works, including Laurent Mauvignier’s The Birthday Party. His forthcoming translations include Éric Chevillard’s Museum Visits and Jakuta Alikavazovic’s Like a Sky Inside. He has been a member of the Oulipo since 2009.

About the Writer:

Bill François is a biophysicist, naturalist and writer. He devotes his time to the study of marine animals, and to writing stories that combine science, humor and poetry. To date, his books have been translated into 19 languages. But in a parallel universe, Bill is also a humorist and eloquence champion. He has appeared on France 2’s Grand Oral, which he won in 2019, and in various shows, gesticulated conferences and improvisation events.

Learn more:

Check out this 2019 interview with Tess Lewis for a preview of her perspective on translation.

Daniel Levin Becker’s translation of Laurent Mauvignier’s The Birthday Party has garnered widespread praise. Read an excerpt here.

Writer Bill François won France 2’s elocution competition Grand Oral in 2019, earning him the title of “a Cyrano de Bergerac with a sharp tongue and a way with words” in one recap. Read the full article in French.

Important information: The discussion will be available both online and in person. While the conversation will happen in person (the speakers will appear in the Reading Room), the Library will stream the conversation on Zoom for a live viewing experience. Both in-person and online attendees will be able to pose questions.

Attendance at this event constitutes permission for your photograph or video to be taken at the event and used by the American Library in Paris for marketing, promotional, pedagogical, or other purposes.

Evenings with an Author are free and open to the public (with a 10€ suggested donation)
thanks to the generous support of Gregory Annenberg Weingarten of GRoW @ Annenberg.


Wed February 14
19 h 30 min - 20 h 30 min
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(Hybrid) Translation Slam! Featuring Tess Lewis and Daniel Levin Becker
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