Join us from 3-4:30 pm via zoom on October 1, 2021, for a virtual conversation with Karla Cornejo Villavicencio about translation and migration in her debut book of creative non-fiction, The Undocumented Americans.

LISTEN HERE to a sample reading from the book.

REGISTER HERE for a zoom link to the event on October 1

REGISTER HERE for 2021 Translate-a-thon

To kick off the tenth annual Translate-a-thon at the University of Michigan, Professor William Stroebel will sit down and talk with Villavicencio about the roles, methods, and uses of translation lurking behind and inside the pages of her book: translation between languages, translation between dialects and registers, translation between spoken and written media, translation between genres of translation like interpretation in legal or journalistic settings and literary translation, along with her current attempts to translate the book into Spanish.

Her book breaks many things. It breaks boundaries between genres, mixing the rhythms of rock and the cadences of hip hop and the political anger of punk and the slow contemplation of lyric poetry into the burning advocacy of its prose reportage (along with a little dose of magical realism to boot). The book also breaks the mold of representation traditionally deployed by advocates and allies, who elevate the gifted DREAMers of DACA into poster children above a faceless, nameless mass of day-laborers, cleaners, construction workers, factory hands, deliverymen, dishwashers and dog walkers.

These are the ones who take center stage in her book and tell their stories as beautifully imperfect, hardworking, weird, and “just people,” sorting through the trauma of an oppressive system built and sustained by their exploitation and terrorization, and invisibility. Villavicencio breaks through this invisibility and the taboos of representation and in doing so she calls upon its readers to break the system: “it’s time to fuck some shit up.” But amidst the great praise that this finalist for the National Book Award has won, very little has been said about another thing that her avant-gardism breaks: conventions of translation. 

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Comparative Literature and the Language Resource Center at the University of Michigan, with support from the 2021-22 Mellon Sawyer Seminar Series on Sites of Translation in the Multilingual Midwest.