Literature faculty member Peter Filkins’s translation of H.G. Adler’s novel The Journey was recently published by Random House, and celebrated on November 19 at a book launch party in New York City. While Adler authored 26 books of fiction, stories, poems, history, philosophy, and religion in German, none of his novels have been translated into English until now.
“Though, in essence, Adler’s book had been lost and ignored, I could see immediately that The Journey was a key Holocaust text that had to be brought into English in order to receive its full due,” Filkins explains. After pitching the translation to a number of publishers, Random House recognized the novel’s importance and picked it up.
The project began after Filkins came across the book in Cambridge bookstore six years ago. After reading only two pages, Filkins says he knew that he would have to bring the novel to English audiences. “I was compelled by the haunting power of Adler’s voice from beyond the grave.”
As one of a handful of known German-speaking Jewish novelists who survived the Holocaust, The Journey draws on Adler’s experience. It is considered a universal indictment against totalitarianism and is prophetic in its anticipation of how future writers would grapple with the overwhelming tragedy.
Filkins’ translation of The Journey adds to his other noted and award winning translation work, which includes the complete poems of Ingeborg Bachmann, Songs in Flight (Marsilio 1994) , named an outstanding translation of 1994 by the American Literary Translators Association. He has also received praise for his translation of a novel by Alois Hotschnig, Leonardo's Hands (University of Nebraska Press 1999) and translations of two novel fragments by Bachmann titled The Book of Franza and Requiem for Fanny Goldmann (Northwestern University Press 1999) .
Filkins’ poetry, translations, and criticism have appeared in numerous journals, including the New Republic, the American Scholar, the New Criterion, Paris Review, Agni, the American Poetry Review, Partisan Review, the Iowa Review, the Literary Review, the Southwest Review, Verse, TriQuarterly, Poetry, the Massachusetts Review, Poetry Criticism, Contemporary Literary Criticism, USA Today, The World & I, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, and the New York Times Book Review.
The Journey is available in bookstores now.