Sally-Ann Spencer

Sally-Ann Spencer © Sally-Ann Spencer Sally-Ann Spencer was born in Hertfordshire. She studied Modern and Medieval languages at Cambridge University and went on to work in academic publishing and later as an editor for New Books in German.

In 2005 she became a full-time freelance literary translator from German into English and moved to Wellington, New Zealand. She is currently in her final year of a PhD on German literature in translation at the University of Victoria in Wellington and recently co-edited an anthology of contemporary fiction by writers from New Zealand and Germany (Sport 40) to accompany New Zealand’s participation in the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2012.


Three questions to Sally-Ann Spencer

Why did you choose to become a translator? Is it the profession you always wanted?

I studied French and German at university, but I came to translation by chance. I was working in publishing at the time, and we were looking for someone to translate a new book on German philosophy. I took on the job and discovered that I really enjoyed it.
Which German book do you like the best and why?

Spieltrieb by Juli Zeh is a masterpiece. A novel about the 'great-grandchildren of the nihilsts', it tells the story of Ada and Alev, two students at a private highschool in Bonn, who test their belief that there is no longer anything not to believe in -- that everything is equally valid -- by setting up a dangerous game. Written with Zeh's characteristic linguistic flair, it is stylistically and intellectually ambitious -- and utterly gripping.
Is there a particular book you would like to translate?

Spieltrieb, of course!

  • Juli Zeh: The Method (Corpus Delicti). Harvill Secker, 2012
  • Peter Schössow: My first car was red (Mein erstes Auto war rot). Gecko Press, 2011
  • Markus Heitz: The war of the dwarves (Der Krieg der Zwerge). Orbit, 2010
  • Markus Heitz: The dwarves (Die Zwerge). Orbit, 2009
  • Sebastian Fitzek: Therapy (Die Therapie). Pan Books, 2008
  • Frank Schätzing: The Swarm (Der Schwarm). Hodder and Stoughton, 2006