Translation, Now! A Conversation with Benjamin Paloff

Date / Time

November 14, 2019

2:00 pm - 4:00 pm


Benjamin Palofff will discuss his translation practice, with a focus on his newest translation, of Dorota Maslowska’s Honey, I Killed the Cats. Dorota Masłowska’s Honey, I Killed the Cats tells the story of two friends who gradually grow apart. Beneath this simple surface, however, and in the lyrically profane language that has secured the author’s reputation as one of the stylistic innovators of contemporary Polish letters, we find an extended portrait of how prefab dwellings, canned language, and one-size-fits-all consumer culture stifle our ability to form meaningful relationships with others, since they leave us with a stunted sense of ourselves. By turns hilarious and horrifying, Honey, I Killed the Cats is a comedy with the pathos of a cri de coeur. 


Translation, Now! is a series devised and organized by Professor Michal Pawel Markowski, the Hejna Family Chair in Polish Language and Literature at the Department of Polish, Russian, and Lithuanian Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  The series aims to introduce American academics, as well as the general public, to the work of the most accomplished translators of Polish literature into English, and to popularize their achievements among readers of different cultural backgrounds.


Benjamin Paloff is the author of Lost in the Shadow of the Word (Space, Time, and Freedom in Interwar Eastern Europe)—named the 2018 Best Book in Literary/Cultural Studies by AATSEEL—and of the poetry collections And His Orchestra (2015) and The Politics (2011). He has translated nearly a dozen books, most recently Dorota Masłowska’s Honey, I Killed the Cats, and has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (twice, in poetry and in translation), the US Fulbright Programs, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the PEN/Heim Translation Fund, among others. He is Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures and of Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan.

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