We are very pleased to welcome Núria Codina as an editorial fellow! Núria is a researcher, lecturer, and translator from Barcelona. She holds a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Tübingen, and her dissertation presents a comparative analysis of texts associated with migration in the German, Spanish, and Catalan contexts. Núria spoke with us about her relationship to language and the works and ideas that inspire her.
WWB: What drew you to Words Without Borders? What is your personal relationship to language and translation?
Núria: In the world of translation, it is sometimes difficult for writers who are less famous, who write in minor languages, or whose books didn’t make the bestseller lists to have a voice. What I like about Words without Borders is that it represents a vast array of literatures, languages, regions, and authors. It also gives visibility to the translator as someone who rewrites the text and engages with it in an active and creative way. Since I live in translation myself, I know that’s not a piece of cake. It requires a deep knowledge both of the languages and cultural contexts involved, as well as a capacity to estrange oneself from the source text and sometimes even from the mother tongue.
WWB: You’re interested in texts about migration and in literary multilingualism. What do you find most compelling and/or challenging about analyzing texts across languages?
Núria: Texts about migration tell us about experiences that everyone can relate to, stories that are not foreign or exotic whatsoever. I’m mostly interested in the similarities and overlaps in terms of content and style between texts from different areas and in different languages, because they question our understanding of national literature. Analyzing these similarities can be quite challenging: You need to think across languages and disciplines and to take a transnational approach, but at the same time you have to be sensitive to the specificities of the text and the context in which it was written.
WWB: What are your favorite reads or who are some of your favorite writers? What do you look for in a great book?
Núria: Because I am interested in multilingual practices in literature and multilingualism in general, many of the books that I’ve read lately have to do with this topic. But I also feel drawn to books that show that the personal is political and vice versa—that the political is personal too. By this I mean books that describe how social and political tensions affect our identity and everyday life. Mercè Rodoreda’s La Plaça del Diamant is a great example. I read it for the first time when I was about fifteen and it had a great impact on me, and on the way I understand the world, my home country, and even my dear grandmothers and my family’s history. The book is about the hardships of a young Catalan woman during and after the Spanish Civil War, and you can see how her personal story and her whole domestic life are influenced by the historical events and the gender roles of that time. It’s written in a very poetic and yet colloquial language, which challenges the boundaries between high and popular culture, between the written and the spoken language.
WWB: You’ve done quite a bit of travel. What are some of the places you’ve visited that have inspired you?
Núria: I’ve spent most of my adult life abroad and lived in six different countries over the last ten years, but Germany has definitely left a deep mark both on my education and my private experiences and has become a second home. I value its excellent and affordable higher education system as well as the opportunities available for scholars and professionals working in the humanities. I belong to a generation that has experienced Europe as a lived identity and I have friends all over the continent. It would be a pity if the inability of the European institutions to address and solve current political and social crises eroded this sense of belonging.
WWB: Beyond literature and translation, what are your passions and interests?
Núria: I like swimming, both in the pool and in the sea. Under water is the only place where I can switch off completely and put my mind at rest. By the same token, I enjoy going on hikes or strolling around the city because walking sets new ideas in motion and gives me inspiration. I also take part in readings and other cultural events on a regular basis and love going to the theater and to the movies.