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Zaneta Barska

Question and Answer

  • What is your name, where do you live, and how long have you been an interpreter or translator?
    • Zaneta Barska
  • Where do you Live?
    • London, UK
  • What made you decide to become a translator or interpreter?
    • I always knew I would become a translator.
  • List one strength that you think sets you apart from your colleagues.
    • Unusual language combination Polish and Greek
  • Name the one thing that you most enjoy in your translating or interpreting career.
    • Learning new words
  • We all have worked on those not-so-perfect assignments. Write about one such assignment that was not ideal and what you learned from it.
    • One of my first assignments was a translation of a book. I was recommended by a friend and the director of the publishing house was my friend's friend.
      I did not sign any contract, but felt safe that I will get paid since it was someone that my friend knew. Unfortunately, in the end the director did not want to pay me.
      I hired a lawyer and got paid only 2 years later. From this experience, I learned that I always have to sign contracts with all my clients.
  • If you could go back in time to when you were just starting out as a translator or interpreter, what advice would you give to your younger self?
    • I think the best advice for my younger self is to talk to other people about my job and start networking as soon as possible.
      Also, learn from more experienced translators about the business side of the profession.
  • Name one resource – such as a phone app, CAT tool, website, and so forth – that you find especially helpful in your translating or interpreting work.
  • What's the best book you've read this year?
    • Mo Yan, Big Breasts and Wide Hips



In his latest novel, Mo Yan—arguably China's most important contemporary literary voice—recreates the historical sweep and earthy exuberance of his much acclaimed novel Red Sorghum. In a country where patriarchal favoritism and the primacy of sons survived multiple revolutions and an ideological earthquake, this epic novel is first and foremost about women, with the female body serving as the book's central metaphor. The protagonist, Mother, is born in 1900 and married at seventeen into the Shangguan family. She has nine children, only one of whom is a boy—the narrator of the book. A spoiled and ineffectual child, he stands in stark contrast to his eight strong and forceful female siblings.

Mother, a survivor, is the quintessential strong woman who risks her life to save several of her children and grandchildren. The writing is picturesque, bawdy, shocking, and imaginative. The structure draws on the essentials of classical Chinese formalism and injects them with extraordinarily raw and surprising prose. Each of the seven chapters represents a different time period, from the end of the Qing dynasty up through the Japanese invasion in the 1930s, the civil war, the Cultural Revolution, and the post-Mao years. Now in a beautifully bound collectors edition, this stunning novel is Mo Yan's searing vision of twentieth-century China

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