Alex Starritt is a novelist, translator and journalist. His debut novel, The Beast, is published by Head of Zeus in September 2017. He studied German and History at Somerville College, Oxford, and now lives in London.
Selection of translated titles:
Peter Neumann: Radicalized (Die neuen Dschihadisten). I B Tauris, 2016.
Arthur Schnitzler: Late Fame (Später Ruhm). Pushkin Press, 2015.
Rolf-Dieter Müller: Enemy In The East (Der Feind steht im Osten). I B Tauris, 2015
Stefan Zweig: A Chess Story (Schachnovelle). Pushkin Press, 2013.
Mirko Bonné: The Ice-Cold Heaven (Der eiskalte Himmel). Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd, 2013.
Three questions to Alex Starritt:
Why did you choose to become a translator? Is it the profession you always wanted?
I grew up speaking German and that probably made me assume - in a way far more European than British - that translation, fiction and criticism were aspects of the same interest. I also think that particularly if you know by experience rather than merely theoretically that most good writing is necessarily not originally done in English, translation becomes something of a duty, even if all you're doing is prodding a few little holes into the edifice of British parochialism.
Which German book do you like the best and why?
Joseph Roth's Die Flucht Ohne Ende, not because I think it's his best novel - that must be Radetzkymarsch - but because the conceit is so powerful: an Austro-Hungarian officer is captured by the Russians during the First World War. He escapes from internment and flees back home, but by the time he gets there, his home country no longer exists. The idea that, even after his arrival, his flight continues, is super sad.
Is there a particular book you would like to translate?
Robert Musil's The Man Without Qualities because a) outside the Anglosphere it's recognised as a masterpiece; inside, it's barely recognised at all, and b) because it's so long and would be so expensive to translate that if you did it right, your translation would stand for decades.