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Jeffrey Zuckerman
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Jeffrey Zuckerman is an award-winning translator of French works into English, most recently of Caroline Laurent’s An Impossible Return.
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Welcome / Bienvenue
This is a gallery of work specially created for #ThinAir2022. Spend time with writers you love, and discover some new favourites! Ceci est une galerie de travaux spécialement créée pour #ThinAir2022. Passez du temps avec des écrivains que vous aimez et découvrez de nouveaux favoris!

Jeffrey Zuckerman has translated many French works into English, including books by the artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and the Dardenne brothers; the queer writers Jean Genet and Hervé Guibert; and the Mauritian novelists Ananda Devi, Shenaz Patel, and Carl de Souza. A graduate of Yale University, he has been a finalist for the TA First Translation Prize and the French-American Foundation Translation Prize and has and has been awarded a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant and the French Voices Grand Prize. In 2020 he was named a Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government.

Interview / Entrevue

Is there any better book for an overeager child to read than The Phantom Tollbooth? I first read it before I even knew what all the words meant, so I’ve had the funny experience of thinking of “Short Shrift” and “Faintly Macabre” and “Rhyme and Reason” as actual characters long before I ever encountered them as figures of speech. I’ve never forgotten this wonderful exchange toward the end of the story:

“That’s why,” said Azaz, “there was one very important thing about your quest that we couldn’t discuss until you returned.”

“I remember,” said Milo eagerly. “Tell me now.”

“It was impossible,” said the king, looking at the Mathemagician.

“Completely impossible,” said the Mathemagician, looking at the king.

“Do you mean—” said the bug, who suddenly felt a bit faint.

“Yes, indeed,” they repeated together; “but if we’d told you then, you might not have gone—and, as you’ve discovered, so many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.”

I wish I was a clean desk person! But no, anything and everything I lay hands on seems to end up piled up on my desk. It’s an unholy mess, and the only reason it works is because it’s my mess. I know where everything is!

Oh, goodness. There are far more worries than I’d like. I’m very worried by all the insects that aren’t swarming around me whenever I go outside these days. I’m very worried by all the plankton gone from the oceans already. We aren’t teetering on the brink of environmental collapse; we’re already hurtling headlong, and nobody in charge seems to be willing to hit the brakes at all. When I moved to a new apartment, I checked its location against a hurricane evacuation map because I knew it was a prospect New York City might well face again before long. In short: I truly worry about what will be left of the natural world in 20 years, and how we will survive it.

Is there anyone who doesn’t secretly wish they could just jump up and start flying like a bird? That’s the one secret ambition I’ll confess to!

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Originally published in French by Caroline Laurent

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