Eleanor's Introduction

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Putting German books in translation alongside recent UK book trends.

 “Griaß Eich!” from Vienna

Hello, and welcome (or welcome back) to the Goethe-Institut UK’s Literary Tastings blog! My name is Eleanor Updegraff and I’m delighted to be donning Annie Rutherford’s mantle for a few months to guide you through some of the best new German literature in English translation.

As has been the format till now, every month will see me pair a work of German literature that has recently appeared in English translation with a book or author making waves in the UK. The comparisons are sometimes thematic, sometimes based on style, and occasionally drawn because of that intangible ‘something’ that seems to link authors despite their separation by geographical and cultural divides. If you’re casting about for new reading inspiration, fear not: I’ve got you covered.

Eleanor Updegraff
Eleanor Updegraff | © Ian Gordon
Much like Annie, I’m a committed bookworm with a particular penchant for literature in translation. I firmly believe in the power of books to open new worlds for us, and also in translation’s ability to show us we have way more in common than we might think. I adore good literary fiction (really), but also love being gripped by a thriller, having my mind broadened by essays, becoming invested in a fantasy world, and discovering new children’s and YA literature that my nephews (ranging from toddler to teens) will enjoy.

As well as reading an awful lot for pleasure, I make my living from words in all forms: I’m a ghostwriter, German–English translator, copy-editor and book reviewer, and author of short stories and creative non-fiction. Having grown up in the UK and studied at Durham University, I came to live in Austria in 2015. One year turned into two and then eight and, after a stint in the southern state of Carinthia, I’m once again based in Vienna. Here I enjoy nothing more than exploring the many independent bookshops in search of great recommendations and new German-language literature. When not doing that or engaged in heated debate with my international book group, I’m likely to be found reading in a coffee shop or train, helping my plants withstand the vagaries of the Viennese weather, or running around an Austrian lake.

I’m delighted to have you with me over the next few months to explore the best of what German literature in translation has to offer. I always love to hear from fellow readers if anything resonated (or didn’t!) and hope you’ll feel inspired to spread the word even further.

And now for my first recommendation . . .

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