Those of you who follow German literature in English surely know of Michael Henry Heim’s translations (e.g. of Günter Grass, Thomas Mann, and Hans Magnus Enzensberger), but you might as easily know his work if you follow Russian literature, or Hungarian, Dutch, or Czech. The enviably multilingual Heim was Milan Kundera’s translator until Kundera started writing directly in French, and when the Czech Republic split off from what was once the other half of Czechoslovakia, they got in touch with him to ask what they should call themselves in English. True story. I personally am grateful for him for suggesting me as the translator for Jenny Erpenbeck‘s first book to be translated into English, The Old Child and Other Stories. He knew I loved her book, and when he was offered the job of translating it, he told New Directions to call me up instead. Maybe it was that he didn’t have time for the book just then, but I wouldn’t count on it. He’s just that supportive. Once, on a visit to Los Angeles, I got to sit in on his graduate translation workshop at UCLA, a truly splendid class. I envy anyone who has the good fortune to study with him. And now anyone who happens to be in Boston this coming Friday will have the opportunity to hear him speak as part of the Boston University Lecture Series in Literary Translation. It’s a great lecture series, masterminded by Rosanna Warren, herself a wonderful poet and translator, and stellar speakers (David Bellos, David Ferry, Rachel Hadas et al) will be appearing all spring. I spoke about Walser in the series a few years ago and loved the experience. If you’re in or near Boson, check it out.