Yang-Leng Liu - Translator of the Month

Translator of the month for March is Yang-Leng Liu from Changhua, Taiwan. She began her career as a part-time translator four years ago translating history of philosophy from German. She currently lives in Bergen, and is working towards becoming an experienced full-time translator, in order to bring Norwegian literature to Taiwan and vice versa.

Yang leng på færøyene sommeren 2018
Yang-Leng at the Faroe Islands in the summer of 2018. Photo: Anders Hamre Konglevoll.

Yang-Leng studied Nordic languages and literature at the University of Greifswald in Germany. As a newly established translator, she has to date translated a couple of works from German and Norwegian into traditional Chinese. Through translation, her dream is to become a cultural intermediary between Taiwan and the Nordic countries – especially Norway, since there is almost no cultural and literary exchange between these countries.

In our interview, we asked her, among other things:

You are now in the initial phase as a translator of Norwegian literature. What is the most valuable advice you have received along the way from more experienced colleagues? And do you have any tips or tricks to share with others who dream of working in translation?

I think the most valuable advice is to familiarise yourself as much as possible with the publishing industry and the agents in both Norway and your home country. Only in this way can one get more opportunities to translate books. It is not exactly easy and it takes time, but I would say this is also my “tip” to others who want to become a translator. Just be daring and contact publishers with a translation. At least that was how I got my first translation assignment from Norwegian. It’s also worth mentioning that there aren’t that many people who translate from Norwegian in Taiwan, so the chances are quite good!

Do you have a special Norwegian book that is close to your heart? If so, why is it special to you?

Knut Hamsun’s Hunger. It was one of the books on the reading list for the examination in literature at Greifswald. I read Siegfried Weibel’s German translation, and was immediately impressed and drawn into Hamsun’s magical ability to describe feelings of hunger and madness. A few years ago I discovered that this book had been published in Taiwan sometime in the 1980s, but it was translated from English and is now out of print. So I’m thinking of translating it into traditional Chinese directly from Norwegian and then getting it out onto the book market in Taiwan again. My most extensive plan in the years to come!

Jostein gaarder og yang leng på norlas oversetterkonferanse på kløfta i 2023.
From the left: Author Jostein Gaarder and Yang-Leng with her translation of his book "It Is We Who Are Here Now". The picture is taken at NORLA's Translator's Conference at Kløfta outside Oslo in June 2023. Photo: Hwasue S. Warberg.

Read more

Learn more about Yang-Leng on Books from Norway.

Those of you who understand Norwegian can read her interview in full here.

Other translators interviewed in the Translator of the Month series.