Visible Communities translators in virtual residence 2022

We are delighted to welcome five translators who will be in virtual residence from April to July 2022.

Nadiyah Abdullatif is a translator and editor based in Scotland. She translates from Arabic, French and Spanish into English. She is currently working on an English co-translation of a Lebanese graphic novel, Murabba wa Laban by Lena Merhej, an extract of which recently appeared in literary arts publication The Markaz Review. She is also a copy editor for Asymptote, one of the leading online journals of literature in translation. This will be her first residency. She wishes to spend the residency time working on literature from the Indian Ocean islands, and in particular, from Mauritius, the country of her birth. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of St Andrews in Modern Languages (Arabic and Spanish) and International Relations and a Masters in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Edinburgh.

‘I applied to the residency with the aims of diversifying routes into and decolonising literary translation, this programme creates an excellent space to take forward the work I am most passionate about in a supportive residency environment where I can discuss my work with and learn from other translators.

During the residency I’ll be working on literature from the Indian Ocean islands, with a particular focus on Mauritius, the country of my birth.’

Lydia Hounat is a British-Algerian (Kabyle) writer, photographer and translator from Manchester, England. She translates from French and Taqbaylit into English. She was previously a Writer-in-Residence for Manchester Metropolitan University’s Special Collections’ Archives, with her work appearing in HOBART, MAI Journal: Feminism & Visual Culture, and TOLKA. She is a co-curator for the French and Imazighen poetry collections at Manchester Poetry Library, and is currently collaborating with the Writing Squad’s Writing the Archive project and Poetry Translation Centre’s UNDERTOW.

‘I am so pleased to be joining the Visible Communities residency alongside some wonderful translators. For a long time I have been looking to work alongside kindred spirits that share in their affinity for translation and language preservation, but also to find companionship amongst other practitioners working to further integrate indigenous oral languages into UK translation. I’m very grateful to NCW for providing this programme to create this invaluable space.

For my work, I will be looking at intergenerational conversations through translation, and looking at how a static oral language like Taqbaylit (amongst other Tamazight languages of North Africa) accommodate the ever-changing context of history and trauma. I’m particularly focused on how this pertains to the voices of Kabyle women in Algeria, our customs and ritual practices. I’m also looking to question what it means to be a translator from the diaspora, navigating multi-heritage, translating work from beyond its origins, and to discuss this with fellow translators.’

Vineet Lal is a literary translator from French to English, based in Scotland. In 2010 he was awarded one of the first-ever Mentorships in Literary Translation by the British Centre for Literary Translation, with Sarah Ardizzone, and in 2011 published his first full-length translation, Lacrimosa by Régis Jauffret. His first translated children’s book, Panthera Tigris by Sylvain Alzial and Hélène Rajcak, was published in October 2019 (a co-translation with Sarah Ardizzone) and his translation of The Woman Who Didn’t Grow Old by Grégoire Delacourt came out in February 2020. His translation of The Secret Life of Writers by Guillaume Musso came out in June 2021.

‘I’m absolutely thrilled to be one of several Virtual Translators in Residence with NCW this spring – such a wonderful opportunity to engage with fellow translators who share so many of the same areas of interest, and to find a safe space to reflect on key themes and issues that affect us all, in one way or another. I am hugely grateful to NCW for this superb initiative.

I’m looking forward to delving into some of the issues that I’ve been thinking about ever since I began my journey in translation some ten years ago – and how some of those have been highlighted, and magnified, by the pandemic. In particular, the challenges of being an emerging, or early career, translator, of looking after your mental health, of finding ways to maintain confidence and find sustenance in difficult times. And how one’s ethnicity, or external perceptions of one’s ethnicity, can be a factor in that equation.’

Coco Mbassi was born in Paris, France and originates from Cameroon. By the age of nine, she spoke five languages. She trained as a translator in Paris and in the UK. A lover of all artforms, Coco has toured as a musician for over 30 years, winning several awards and releasing three albums, an innovative musical project and a single. She never gave up on her love of languages and has translated three books in the past five years and written a bilingual illustrated book for children. Coco trained as a scriptwriter for television and theatre and wrote her first musical, Haendel on the Estate; extracts of the musical were performed at Ovalhouse Theatre in London in February 2019, with a full performance of the musical in London in November 2020. She is now writing another musical with her writing partner and plans to do more literary translation work, with a focus on non-standard hybrid language forms from sub-Saharan Africa, such as Pidgins or Camfranglais. She also hopes to complete her first novel by 2023.

‘I applied for the residency because I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to explore ways of improving literary translation related to postcolonial contexts and it’s so great to be supported while doing it.’

Born in Bangladesh, Shagufta Sharmeen Tania initially trained as an architect. Her fiction and non-fiction have been published in both Bangladesh and India. To date she has authored nine books and translated Susan Fletcher’s Eve Green and Antonio Skarmeta’s Burning Patience, from English to Bengali. Her work has appeared in Wasafiri, Asia Literary Review, City Press and a Speaking Volumes Anthology. She has recently finished working on a Bengali-English translation of her short story collection (for which she received an Arts Council Grant.) Currently, she is working on a fictionalized biography of a celebrated musicologist, a nonfiction based on the changes in cityscapes. Shagufta was the youngest recipient of Bangla Academy Syed Waliullah Award (2018) for outstanding contribution in Bangla literature, and her short story Sincerely Yours was long listed for the BBC Short Story Award 2021. About three years ago she wrote a series of retold fairy tales based on Dakshinaranjan Mitra Mazumder’s (like the Grimm Brothers, he was a collector of ancient fairytales of Bengal) collected works, which she will self-translate during her virtual residency.

‘I applied as the stated ethos of this residency encompasses many issues that I care passionately about: the power of translated language to shed a light on disparate communities and cultures, and to dismantle barriers between them, and the importance of giving a voice to the marginalised – be it the female heroines in stories, or those unfairly overlooked in the world of translation.

Language, storytelling, and the business of conveying with passion and precision all the rich nuances of my native language to a new readership (nuance which contains so much of the heritage and cultural riches of Bangladesh ) : to me, there is no more important work, and it’s work which I feel privileged to be given an opportunity to undertake.

I will self-translate my collection of re-interpreted Bengali fairy-tales, utilising the heightened, stylised language of Dakshinaranjan Mitra Majumder, one of the great curators of Bengali oral storytelling and fairy-tales. Retold fairy-tales allow for positive representations of female characters – sorely lacking in the original material – and can break free of the old patriarchal archetypes of women.’

You can find out more about our Visible Communities translators in virtual residence and in residence at Dragon Hall here.

Residencies in Dragon Hall Cottage

In 2022, we will welcome two Belgian writers to Norwich as part of our exchange with Passa Porta

Sylvie Marie, who will visit Norwich in April 2022, is the author of four poetry collections: Zonder (Without), Toen je me ten huwelijk vroeg (When you asked me to marry you), Altijd een raam (Always a window) and Houdingen (Positions). She co-authored the football novel Speler X (Player X). She has won several poetry slams and likes experimenting on stage and interacting with the audience. Translations of Sylvie Marie’s poetry by Richard Berengarten will appear in Shearsman 125 / 126 in October 2020. During her residency, Sylvie will be working on #grampoems, new poetry and translations of her work into English.

Els Beerten will join us in August 2022. She is one of Belgium’s leading young adult novelists, has been widely translated and has received several awards. Her most successful novel is We All Want Heaven. During her time in Norwich, Els will be working on a new project, exploring three storylines of dreams not coming true or maybe coming true. Els is looking forward to being inspired by the area around Norwich, diving into its past and present.

UK writers Claudine Toutoungi and Diana Evans will each spend a month at the Passa Porta International House of Literature in Brussels.

Award-winning novelist, journalist and critic Diana Evans will head to Brussels in April 2022. Her bestselling novel, Ordinary People, won the 2019 South Bank Sky Arts Award for Literature and was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Rathbones Folio Prize and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction. She was the inaugural winner of the Orange Award for New Writers for her debut novel 26a. A graduate of the UEA Creative Writing MA, she contributes to among others Time Magazine, the Guardian and the Financial Times, and is an associate lecturer in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Claudine Toutoungi is a poet and playwright whose poems have appeared widely including in Poetry Chicago, PN Review, the Guardian, The Spectator and the Financial Times. Her debut poetry collection Smoothie was published by Carcanet in 2017 and her second poetry collection is forthcoming in 2020. Her plays have been produced in a range of theatres and on Radio 4. She will be in residence at Passa Porta in September 2022.


Penny Boxall will go on a return visit to Estonia in August 2022 as part of our residency exchange with Tartu UNESCO City of Literature. Penny Boxall’s debut poetry collection, Ship of the Line, won the 2016 Edwin Morgan Poetry Award and a Writer’s Residency at Gladstone’s Library. Her second collection, Who Goes There?, was published in 2018 by Valley Press. She has won a Northern Writers’ Award and the Mslexia/PBS Poetry Competition. Her poems have appeared in The Sunday Times, The Dark Horse, The North, The RialtoThe Scotsman, Magma and Mslexia, and were highly commended in the Forward Prizes in 2014 and the 2019 Bridport Prize. She was a 2017 Hawthornden Fellow. She has taught poetry on the MA at Oxford Brookes University, and in autumn 2019 was Visiting Research Fellow in the Creative Arts at Merton College, Oxford. 

In October 2022, we will welcome Aco Peroski from North Macedonia as part of the Translation in Motion project, co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. Aco Peroski is co-owner and editor of the Macedonian publishing house Artkonekt. He completed a MA degree in Philosophy and a PhD in Comparative literature. He’s been working as a freelance translator for over a decade and has translated more than 70 titles from English, French, Serbian and Croatian. During his residency, Aco will be working on a translation of Edna O’Brien’s collected stories. This will be the first translation of O’Brien into Macedonian language.