About

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Jonathan Dunne is a graduate in Classics from Oxford University. He holds advanced diplomas in Bulgarian, Galician, and Spanish from Sofia, Santiago de Compostela, and Barcelona Universities.

He has translated more than seventy books from the Bulgarian, Catalan, Galician, and Spanish languages for publishers such as Penguin Random House, New Directions, Europa Editions, and Overlook Press. He is a three-time recipient of the PEN Translates award. His translations have been nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Warwick Prize for Writing, and others. Authors he has translated include Ledicia Costas, Tsvetanka Elenkova, Agustín Fernández Paz, Carme Riera, Manuel Rivas, and Enrique Vila-Matas.

He directs the publishing house Small Stations Press, the second largest publisher in the U.S. of books from Spain between 2008 and 2018, according to Three Percent. Small Stations Press specializes in publishing Galician literature, literature written in the Galician language of north-west Spain, in English and is responsible for more than half of all Galician titles in English.

He coordinates the Portico of Galician Literature, a website devoted to contemporary Galician writing in English. He edited and translated a two-volume, bilingual Anthology of Galician Literature 1196-1981 / 1981-2011 for the publishers Edicións Xerais, Editorial Galaxia, and Xunta de Galicia, together with a supplement of Contemporary Galician Poets for Poetry Review, the magazine of the UK Poetry Society, with an initial distribution of 4000 copies, which is still available to read online. He is the translator of the bilingual anthology At the End of the World: Contemporary Poetry from Bulgaria for Shearsman Books and the photographer/English translator of the book of essays Bulgarian Frescoes: Feast of the Root, both by Tsvetanka Elenkova.

Jonathan has written four books on the English language: The DNA of the English Language (2007), which looks at the rules for making word connections in English; The Life of a Translator (2013), which gives a shorter summary of the rules and looks at coincidence in translation; Stones Of Ithaca (2019), which goes beneath the surface of language to look at proof for the presence of God in language and the environment; and Seven Brief Lessons on Language (2023), an in-depth look at the spiritual content of language which examines our role as translators and sees a similarity between death and the translation process (where a text disappears in the mind of a translator before reappearing in another language).

He has recorded a sixteen-part video course on the theology of language called “Theological English”. This course begins by looking at the line, represented by the ego (I) and the number 1, and how the Trinity can be “three in one”. It then presents a simple set of rules for accessing the spiritual content of language, and ends with videos on paradox, the word “believe”, the Names of God, and the progression in language from the A of creation to the I of the Fall to the O of repentance as found in words such as “DNA” and “atom”. This course is available to watch on Vimeo and YouTube.

Jonathan lives with his family in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Useful links:

The Roundabout of Translation”, article in Hopscotch Translation (December 2022)

Letting Go of the Land: The Journal of an Athonite Pilgrim”, article in Orthodox Christianity (August 2019)

Three Percent, interview with Chad Post (January 2019)

The Written Page, interview with Antón García-Fernández (November 2018)

The Train”, translation of a poem by Tsvetanka Elenkova (2015)

On the Borders of Writing and Translation”, talk at the University of Warwick (April 2013)

This Strange Lucidity”, translation of a story by Agustín Fernández Paz (2012)

Translation Is Life”, introduction to a talk by Manuel Rivas (June 2011)

Books Burn Badly, review by Amanda Hopkinson (March 2010)

The Seventh Gesture, foreword and translation of poems by Tsvetanka Elenkova (2010)

Vermeer’s Milkmaid and Other Stories, review by Steve Dolph (October 2008)

Ballad on the Western Beaches”, translation of a poem by Manuel Rivas (2007)

The Carpenter’s Pencil, review by Stephanie Merritt (January 2001)

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