The Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival 2022 hosted a fascinating conversation between German author Pierre Jarawan and his translator, Elisabeth Lauffer. They discuss their respective crafts and their latest work, Song for the Missing, forthcoming on 5 April. You can watch the video recording here.
In Song for the Missing, it’s 2011 and the Arab Spring is in full bloom when the discovery of two bodies in Beirut sows the first seeds of unrest in Lebanon. With houses already burning, Amin sets out to write down his memories of the country: Of the year 1994, when he returned as a teenager with his grandmother, twelve years after his parents’ deaths. Of his friendship with Jafar, the boy who explored the desolate postwar landscape with him. And of the painful discovery that there will never be certainty—neither about his friend’s past nor his family’s history. In this novel full of mystery and suspense, friendship and loss, searches and secrets, Jarawan skillfully interweaves a deeply personal story with the tumultuous history of the Middle East.
Pierre Jarawan was born in 1985 to a Lebanese father and a German mother and moved to Germany with his family at the age of three. Inspired by his father’s imaginative bedtime stories, he started writing at the age of thirteen. He has won international prizes as a slam poet, and in 2016 was named Literature Star of the Year by the daily newspaper Abendzeitung. Jarawan received a literary scholarship from the City of Munich (the Bayerischer Kunstförderpreis) for The Storyteller, which went on to become a bestseller and booksellers’ favorite in Germany, the Netherlands, France, and Brazil. Song for the Missing is his second novel.
Elisabeth Lauffer is a German-English literary translator based in the US. In 2014, she won the Gutekunst Prize for Emerging Translators, which marked the beginning of her career in literary translation. In addition to her book publications, Liz’s translations have appeared in No Man’s Land and Asymptote. She has participated in the Frankfurt International Translators program (2019), the Artists-in-Residence program through KulturKontakt Austria (2019), and the Art Omi: Writers Translation Lab (2018).