Hans-Christian Oeser

Hans-Christian Oeser © Barbara Schaper-Oeser Hans 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.

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.
Welches ist Ihr deutsches Lieblingsbuch und warum?

Die Lieblingsbücher wechseln mit jeder Lektüre. Früher einmal gab es ein Dreigestirn am literarischen Himmel, das eigentlich viel zu heterogen war: Georg Büchner, Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht. Von den Heutigen sprechen mich besonders die leichten, lockeren, lakonischen Büchlein des Wilhelm Genazino an, der immer wieder das Glück in glücksfernen Zeitren verhandelt und dem ich ein englischsprachiges Publikum wünsche.
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.

  • Maeve Brennan: Sämtliche Erzählungen (2 Bde.). Steidl, 2017
  • Stephen Crane: Maggie, ein Mädchen von der Straße. Eine New Yorker Geschichte (Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (A Story of New York)). Marix, 2017
  • Patrick McGinley: Bogmail. Roman mit Mörder (Bogmail). Steidl, 2016
  • Patrick Pearse: Der Rebell. Gedichte. Edition Rugerup, 2016
  • Mark Twain: Ich bin der eselhafteste Mensch, den ich je gekannt habe. Neue Geheimnisse meiner Autobiographie (Autobiography, Bd. 2). Aufbau, 2014
  • Sebastian Barry: Ein langer, langer Weg (A Long Long Way). Steidl, 2014
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald: Der große Gatsby (The Great Gatsby). Reclam, 2012
  • Eugene McCabe: Tod und Nachtigallen (Death and Nightingales). Steidl, 2011
  • D. H. Lawrence: Söhne und Liebhaber (Sons and Lovers). Reclam, 2011
  • Sebastian Barry: Ein verborgenes Leben (The Secret Scripture). Steidl, 2009
  • Anne Enright: Das Familientreffen (The Gathering). Deutsche Verlagsanstalt, 2008
  • Oscar Wilde: Die Märchen (The Happy Prince, A House of Pomegranates). Reclam, 2008