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Writer’s Block: Katia Grubisic
Montreal-based writer and translator Katia Grubisic—whose most recent translations include Daughter of Here and Little Girl Gazelle (Linda Leith Publishing)—sat down Q&A-style with us to chat about her ideal writing day in a pandemic (a forest, water, books), her upcoming translation (A Cemetery for Bees), and a standout writerly moment at the age of three.
Katia’s workspaceALU: What are you working on now?KG: I’m finishing my third edits on my English translation of Alina Dumitrescu’s Le cimetière des abeilles, A Cemetery for Bees, which will be out with Linda Leith Publishing next spring; this is a scary stage, because it is properly my last version before I submit the manuscript to the publisher, who will assign an editor and proofreader to see it through another six or seven drafts altogether. Alina is another Romanian-born Montrealer by adoption, like Ioana Georgescu, whose novel Daughter of Here just came out, also with LLP. There was a point at which I had to come back to Ioana’s novel to finish copyedits while mired in a first draft of Alina’s, and I was worried that the voices would get tangled. But in fact it seemed like I was inhabiting two different minds, two different Romanias, two different twentieth centuries, two completely different aesthetics. Katia’s writerly advice, literally translated to “It is by writing that one becomes a crayfish.” ALU: What’s the toughest part about being a writer?KG: Writing.
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About KatiaI’m a writer, translator and editor—that’s my priority order, though it’s not always how it pans out. I’ve published a bunch of poetry, short fiction, and translations, mostly in Canadian journals and magazines. My translations include the children’s books ABC MTL, by Jeanne Painchaud, with photographs by Bruno Ricca, and Little Girl Gazelle, by Stéphane Martelly, with illustrations by Albin Christen; and the novels Brothers, by David Clerson, White Out, by Martine Delvaux, and Daughter of Here, by Ioana Georgescu. My translation of Marie-Claire Blais’s tremendous Des chants pour Angel, Songs for Angel will be out shortly too.I live in Montreal, in a house that’s falling down in nearly every possible way, and which I am really enjoying restoring, albeit verrrrry slooooowly—it’s the opposite of the blank page. You have all the materials, the ideal outcome, the problems all laid out: get the straight thing to be straight. It’s satisfying. I sometimes think it would be easier to have a day job that’s completely other than writing—renovatrix, say, or migrant fruit picker or intergalactic neurosurgeon—but mostly I just build and repair and render words and sentences all day. I have no pets, though our kids are after us presently to let them adopt a kitten from a neighbour’s brand-new litter. They’ve named one Farine and they like to stop to visit on our way home; he’s pretty cute.