Hans-Christian Oeser

Copyright: Anita Schiffer-FuchsHans Christian Oeser was born 1950 in Wiesbaden. Since 1980 he has been living in Ireland, where he works as a literary translator, author and editor.

More recently he has been dividing his time between Ireland and Germany. He has written several travel books on Ireland and Dublin, biographies of Oscar Wilde and James Joyce, and edited a number of anthologies.
He has translated into German numerous novels, short story and poetry collections by Irish, British and American authors, such as Brendan Behan, Maeve Brennan, Bernard MacLaverty, John McGahern, Paul Muldoon, William Trevor, Ian McEwan, Muriel Spark, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ray Bradbury.
With Gabriel Rosenstock he has published a series of contemporary German-language poetry in German, English and Irish.

For his translation of Patrick McCabe's The Butcher Boy he was awarded the European Translation Prize 1997.

In October 2010 he was awarded the Heinrich Maria Ledig-Rowohlt Prize for his contribution to translations into German from the English language.

Selection of translated titles:

  • Oscar Wilde: Die Märchen (The Happy Prince, A House of Pomegranates). Reclam, 2008
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald: Die Schönen und Verdammten (The Beautiful and Damned). Diogenes, 1998
  • Patrick McCabe: Der Schlächterbursche (The Butcher Boy). Rotbuch, 1995

Three questions to Hans-Christian Oeser:

Why did you choose to become a translator? Is it the profession you always wanted to have?
During my studies to become a teacher (of German and Politics) in Marburg and Berlin, translation as a profession was far from my mind. I only started to translate after I went abroad to Ireland. At first, I worked in the so-called commercial sector. Probably two things came together: the necessity to become self-employed after all my efforts for a permanent position had failed, as well as my love of literature and the old wish, from my student times, to work in any kind of way with books and their creative process. Since then, in spite of the financial insecurity and deadline pressures, translation work has become my dream job, because it allows you to dive into new worlds and to explore in depth the creative use of language.

Which German book do you like the best and why?
My favourtite books change with every new reading. In the past there was a triumvirate in the sky of literature, which was actually far too heterogeneous: Georg Büchner, Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht. From today's books I prefer especially the light, informal and laconic fiction of Wilhelm Genazino, who consistently deals with the subject of luck in unlucky times and whom I wish to be discovered by an English-speaking audience.

Is there a particular book you would like to translate?
Since I am in the lucky position to not only receive commission work but also to be invited to submit my own suggestions, the books I have selected myself are very often the books I also want to translate. Among them especially the Irish-American author Maeve Brennan, who I personally admire. So far I have edited five volumes of her stories. Of the volumes of poetry that I have translated into English, Michael Krüger sticks out for me. I would also like to tackle Rose Ausländer if she hadn't been translated into English already.

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