Guernica Magazine

Back Draft: Lisa Dillman

The translator on selecting her subjects, discovering the work of Andrés Barba, and the dangers of cultural hegemony.

When Lisa Dillman first encountered Spanish writer Andrés Barba’s work, his novels hadn’t yet been translated into English. Working together, the two would go on to translate and publish much of his oeuvre, expanding his readership and winning many awards along the way. Earlier this year, they put out A Luminous Republic, a haunting novel set in a mythical landscape where “blood flows and completes things.”

Before hanging up with Dillman, I told her how honored I was to have talked with her. Barba, I explained, is one of my favorite living writers, and I was grateful to bring this interview to Guernica’s readers. She replied that she’s a big fan of Guernica and that, early in her career, the magazine published some of her stories. “Translations,” she hastened to clarify. “Not my own.”

— Ben Purkert for Guernica

Guernica: You first discovered Andrés Barba’s work in a Madrid bookstore. Is that right?

: Yes, it happened by chance. I’d never heard of him before. I picked up one of his books from the new releases table and saw that it was about a

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