Emerging Translator Laila Riazi Wins Inaugural LARB + Yefe Nof Residency Competition

October 26, 2022

Emerging Translator Laila Riazi Wins Inaugural LARB + Yefe Nof Residency Competition
Lake Arrowhead, California – Earlier this year the Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB) and Yefe Nof were thrilled to launch a new residency program dedicated to supporting emerging literary translators of exceptional promise. The inaugural crop of applications was a revelation, bringing us a dazzling variety of brilliant work, all of it deserving of support. After careful consideration, LARB and Yefe Nof are proud to name Laila Riazi as the first winner of the LARB + Yefe Nof Translation Residency competition.

During her two-week stay at Yefe Nof in Lake Arrowhead, California, this December, Ms. Riazi will complete and polish her translation of a little-known novella, L’Oeil Noir, by Lebanese-American artist and writer Etel Adnan (1925-2021), in consultation with LARB editor-in-chief and longtime literary translator Boris Dralyuk. Ms. Riazi’s translation will be published in The LARB Quarterly and in LARB online.

“Laila Riazi has chosen to translate a fearless, unclassifiable piece of fiction by a fearless, unclassifiable artist, Etel Adnan,” says Boris Dralyuk. “It is our hope that Riazi’s draft, already impressive, will reach a new level of polish in the heights of Lake Arrowhead, and that the creative boldness of this project will set the course for the future of LARB’s collaboration with Yefe Nof.”

Ms. Riazi is an interdisciplinary writer, teacher, translator, and editor from California. Born to Iranian immigrants, she earned her BA in Comparative Literature and French and Francophone Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is currently a doctoral student at University of California, Berkeley, working and thinking across French, English, Arabic, and Persian traditions. Her interests lie in resistive literary movements, translational aporias, cross-linguistic literary histories, noncommunicative language, minor literatures, and little-known books as well as their authors.

“Laila Riazi’s vision for her translation embodies the spirit of the Yefe Nof Residency in that the impact of the work itself requires dwelling on riddles in sustained solitude,” says Gil Soltz, founder of the Yefe Nof Residency. “Yet the growth of the author and the progress of thought depend on networked support and critical dialogue. In collaboration with the esteemed LARB and the craft-blazing Boris Dralyuk, we shoot the moon, establishing a sense of urgency for what matters most to creativity, starting with Riazi’s difficult work on an Etel Adnan short story that highlights the nuanced texture and depth of exchange between a myriad of minds.”

The LARB + Yefe Nof Translation Residency is made possible by the generous support of Brian and Valerie Robbins, Taunia and Tom Rogers, Jonelle and Eric Strickland, Brett and Gretchen Ward, Andrea Fishman, Jon Joseph and Julia Getzelman, Shannon and Isaiah Olsen, Jennefer Penfold, and many others.

To request an interview or feature, please contact Kelly Peyton, [email protected].

Emerging Translator Residency Graphic

The Los Angeles Review of Books is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and disseminating rigorous, incisive, and engaging writing on every aspect of literature, culture, and the arts. In addition to publishing lively, intelligent long-form writing online and in print, LARB’s civic arts programs increase access to the world of literary and cultural production. The LARB Publishing Workshop aims to revolutionize the publishing industry from the ground up by training and mentoring early-career talent from diverse backgrounds. Held annually at the close of the Publishing Workshop, LITLIT aims to strengthen public and institutional support for independent presses. Over the past decade, LARB has celebrated the art of translation and fought for the visibility of its practitioners by reviewing and publishing translations from dozens of the world’s languages.

The Yefe Nof Residency is a secluded place in the mountains where writers, researchers, and designers bring their projects for the final stage of execution, one resident at a time for two weeks. Its annual competitions offer an opportunity for a variety of authors to become reinvigorated by the mountain air and experience the lake while pushing their work to completion. Residents will use their time to construct narratives that captivate, to express what they believe to be true and complex, to remind us of the deep beauty and multilayered poetry in the world, to speculate about futures that we can conceive no matter how still unlikely. Just as they are about to be released into the world at large, the final products are also collected in the house, building upon one another in an ever-evolving collection, a network that acts as both a dedication to progress and a dialogue.


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