Translator Damion Searls Explains Why His Job Is More Creative Than Technical

When he adapts literature from German, Dutch, French, or Norwegian, Searls tries to preserve the best qualities of the original texts.

Illustration depicting a female with a microphone

Listen longer

Slate Plus members get ad-free versions of all Slate podcasts, plus extra segments, bonus episodes, and more. Try it today for just $1.

Join Slate Plus

Episode Notes

This week, host Rumaan Alam talks to writer Damion Searls, who translates literature from German, French, Dutch, and Norwegian into English. In the interview, Damion argues that the work of translating is more creative than technical, and he breaks down what it means to preserve the best qualities of foreign works.

After the interview, Rumaan and co-host June Thomas talk about their own experiences with literary translations.

In the exclusive Slate Plus segment, Damion lists some of the works he’d like to translate in the near future.

Send your questions about creativity and any other feedback to or give us a call at (304) 933-9675.

Podcast production by Cameron Drews.


About the Show

Slate interviews Americans about their jobs.

All episodes