· By Marc Lansley
How I Found My First Project and Its Title
I came to translation later in life. I had just failed miserably in a business and was looking for my next adventure. I discovered that Kent State University had a Master of Arts degree in translation studies and I was fluent in German. I graduated from the program in 2007 at the age of 36, with experience translating portions of two non-fiction books. Then I worked on cookbooks and other non-fiction projects. I decided one day that I didn’t need to wait for more interesting books to come to me, I could pick books to translate and publish them myself. And so Clevo Books was born.
I looked at several German book publisher catalogs and found four titles I wanted to review. One of the best cookbooks I’d seen was no longer available, two others were and the fourth was a book about historical events called Zurück in das Land, das Uns Töten Wollte (Back to the Land That Wanted to Kill Us). It was a collection of personal stories from Jewish women who survived Nazi-Germany by emigrating and eventually all moved back. I wanted the rights to them all, but only had the budget for just the one book. After reading a review copy of Zurück in das Land…, I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. I could help add these stories to the English language discourse on the Holocaust - what an honor! I couldn’t imagine not doing it. So, I made my pitch and was granted the rights to translate and publish the book.
The English title came to me later. The direct translation of the German title is a little too wordy, I thought, for the American book market. We tend to like short and punchy titles - the easier to remember, the better. It occurred to me that this book isn’t just about returning to a country of birth, it’s also about remembering the past. These women were going back into their memories to talk about going back to their country of origin. Going Back became the obvious choice. I hope the reader will find information about the refugee experience in this book relevant to the current discussion on immigration today.