Translations by Alumna Meg Matich ’15 Published in US and UK
BY Nina Mahesh, March 27, 2020
Magma, a novel by Þóra Hjörleifsdóttir, translated by alumna Meg Matich ’15, will be published simultaneously in the US, by Grove Atlantic, and the UK, by Picador. Gunnhildur Jónatansdóttir, a translator and UNESCO grantee, said of Matich’s work, “Matich’s translation of Hjörleifsdóttir’s piercing tale of abuse verges on the poetic. She makes the prose come to life in a way that feels personal, an urgent tale told in confidence to the reader.” In Matich’s capable hands, the work in English speaks with humane urgency and lyrical power—the blood pressure of the book—while remaining faithful to the careful language and pacing of the original.
Magma is a poetic novel about love in the 21st century and how pornography and abuse have been normalized in intimate relationships. It is a halting fictional account of abuse endured by 20 year-old Lilja at the hands of her male intimate partner. As Lilja unravels, Hjorleifsdottir illustrates the failings of psychological and psychiatric systems, while bringing to light the subtle, but powerful, abuses that are often tolerated in relationships simply because they aren’t recognized as harmful or malicious. Lilja’s gradual isolation from family and friends cultivates a sophisticated ecosystem in which violence can thrive without interruption.
Matich’s other recent translation of Grand Mal (Icelandic: “Stóri Skjálfti”), a work of autofiction by renowned Icelandic author Auður Jónsdóttir, will be released subsequently in 2021/2022 by Dottir Press (US). In this surprising work, we follow narrator Saga as she attempts to piece together her present—and her history—from memory fragments after suffering a series of epileptic seizures.
Matich earned her Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University's Creative Writing Poetry and Literary Translation program and has worked with a cross-section of clients, from finance to tech, on copy editing, copywriting, and translation projects. She's received support for her literary translation work from DAAD, the Icelandic Literature Centre (through publishers), PEN, and the Fulbright Commission. She has translated poetry into English and Icelandic for UNESCO, as a representative of Reykjavik UNESCO in Lviv, Ukraine.
Among other projects, Meg has collaborated with poet Magnús Sigurðsson on an anthology of Icelandic poetry for The Cafe Review (Summer 2018) and translated a book of essays dedicated to the world’s first democratically elected female president, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir (2019). Cold Moons (2017 Phoneme Media/Deep Vellum) by Magnús Sigurðsson was her first full-length translation. Composer David R. Scott subsequently translated the work into a choral symphony.