Born in 1936, Ismail Kadare is Albania’s best-known poet and novelist. In 2005 he was awarded the inaugural Man Booker International Prize for “a body of work written by an author who has had a truly global impact.” He is also the recipient of the 2009 Prince of Asturias Prize in Spain, and in 2015 he won the Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society. WLT published “The Blinding Order,” an excerpt from Agamemnon’s Daughter, in 2006 and has been reviewing Kadare’s work since the publication of Le général de l’armée morte in 1970.
Kadare is a champion of international democracy and in 1990 went into political asylum in France. He has written, “I became familiar with literature before I knew freedom, so that it was literature that led me to liberty, not the other way around. Faith in literature and in the creative process brings protection. It generates antibodies that allow you to struggle against state terror.” Kadare lives in Paris. He is often cited as a contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
David Bellos is a professor of French and comparative literature as well as director of the Program in Translation & Intercultural Communication at Princeton University. Educated at Oxford, he has written biographies of Georges Perec and Jacques Tati that have been translated into many languages, and an introduction to translation studies, Is That A Fish in Your Ear? He has translated numerous authors from French (Perec, Vargas, Kadare, Simenon, Antelme, Fournel) and offers a new understanding of the extraordinary life and work of Romain Gary in Romain Gary: A Tall Story. His latest book is a study of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Misérables.
Dustin Condren is an assistant professor of Russian in the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures & Linguistics at the University of Oklahoma. His research focuses primarily on the literature and intellectual culture of the early Soviet period and the visual and physical forms (cinema, photography, painting, performance) that often frame them. His current book project analyzes six of Soviet filmmaker and theoretician Sergei Eisenstein’s major articulated but unrealized film projects of the late 1920s and early 1930s, and uses their nonfilm archival remnants to both imagine their intended onscreen projection and to probe their failures for insight into the development of the director’s—and the medium’s—expressive and significative possibilities.
Peter Constantine is a professor and director of the Literary Translation Program at the University of Connecticut. His recent translations include works by Augustine, Rousseau, Machiavelli, and Tolstoy; he also translated Three Elegies for Kosovo, by Ismail Kadare. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and was awarded the PEN Translation Prize for Six Early Stories, by Thomas Mann, and the National Translation Award for The Undiscovered Chekhov. His essay “Desegregating Language: The New Afrikaans Crime Novel” appears in the summer 2020 issue of WLT, and he served on the 2008 Neustadt Prize jury.
Fabrice Conte-Williamson is a director, actor, and theater educator, teaching courses in performance and theater history, dramatic literature, and criticism in the Theatre Arts Department at the University of Wisconsin–Parkside. He received an MFA from the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis as well as an MFA in directing and an interdisciplinary PhD from the University of Oklahoma’s Helmerich School of Drama. His primary research focuses on postmodern French dramatic literature and performance theory, the role of literary myth in dramatic literature, and the development of multilingual and cross-cultural theater movements.
Will Evans is a publisher, translator, entrepreneur, and founder of Deep Vellum Publishing, a nonprofit indie book publisher dedicated to translating the world’s best novels into English for American audiences. Evans also founded Deep Vellum Books in early 2016, a brick-and-mortar bookstore and cultural community center in Dallas’s historic Deep Ellum neighborhood. Evans earned two bachelor of arts degrees from Emory University in history and Russian language and culture. He also received a master of arts in Russian culture from Duke University.
Ellen Greene is Joseph Paxton Presidential Professor of Classics at the University of Oklahoma. She received her PhD from UC Berkeley in 1992. Her research specialization is Greek and Roman lyric poetry, with an emphasis on issues in gender and sexuality. Her published books include Reading Sappho: Contemporary Approaches (1997), Re-Reading Sappho: Reception and Transmission (1997), The Erotics of Domination: Male Desire and the Mistress in Latin Poetry (1999), Women Poets in Ancient Greece and Rome (2005), Gendered Dynamics in Latin Love Poetry (with Ronnie Ancona) (2005), and The New Sappho on Old Age (with Marilyn Skinner) (2009). With Tara Welch, she is co-editing Oxford Readings in Propertius. She is also currently working on a book-length study of Sappho for Blackwell.
Jill Irvine is President’s Associates Presidential Professor of International & Area Studies at the University of Oklahoma. She is founding director of the Center for Social Justice, served as director of Community Engagement, and currently holds the position of interim senior vice president and provost. Irvine received her BA in history from the University of Michigan and a PhD in government from Harvard University. Her teaching and research interests include social movements, political mobilization, and transnational activism, with a focus on gender. She has written numerous books, articles, chapters, and government reports on ethno-religious movements and democratic transformations in eastern Europe. She is the author, most recently, of Gendered Mobilization: Intersectional Challenges in Social Movements in North America and Europe (2018).
Ani Kokobobo is associate professor and chair of Slavic Languages & Literatures at the University of Kansas and editor of the Tolstoy Studies Journal. She received her PhD from Columbia University with a dissertation on the grotesque and the body in late Russian realism. She specializes in nineteenth-century Russian literature as well as Balkan modernism. In addition to working on individual authors like Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Pushkin, Andrić, and Kadare, in her research she has also explored larger theoretical problems like representations of violence and the body in literature as well as the political significance of aesthetic styles and genres. She translated Kadare’s Essays on World Literature (Restless Books, 2018).
Poet and translator Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse serves as the director of Kashkul and the Slemani UNESCO City of Literature. She completed a PhD in Kurdish Studies from the University of Exeter on nineteenth–century Kurdish poetry. Handful of Salt (2016) and Dictionary of Midnight (2019) introduced the poetry of Kajal Ahmad and Abdulla Pashew, respectively, to an English-language audience. Her portfolio of Kurdish poetry appeared in the July 2018 issue of World Literature Today, and her translation of Hawre Khalid’s “Hands” appear in the summer 2020 issue of WLT.
Susan Shaughnessy is an associate professor of performance and directing and the international programs coordinator for the OU School of Drama. An associate member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, she holds an MFA in directing from the University of New Orleans and has directed over a hundred productions nationally and internationally. Professor Shaughnessy is directing the English-language premiere of Kadare’s Stormy Weather on Mount Olympus during the 2020 Neustadt Lit Fest.
Poet David Shook’s most recent book-length translations include Jorge Eduardo Eielson’s Room in Rome and Pablo d’Ors’s The Friend of the Desert. Their new verse collection, Atlas estelar, is forthcoming in 2020. Raised in Mexico City, they earned a BA at the University of Oklahoma and an MSt at Oxford University. In 2013 they founded the nonprofit publishing house Phoneme Media, which has since published over thirty books translated from twenty-six different languages, including the first ever literary translations from languages like Lingala and Uyghur.