donal mclaughlin

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About Donal McLaughlin

donalriga“frighteningly talented” Metro (Scotland)

Born in Derry in 1961, but resident in Scotland since 1970, Donal McLaughlin is a freelance writer and translator (from German, mainly). He featured in both capacities in Best European Fiction 2012 – the first contributor to achieve this.

Scottish PEN’s first écrivain sans frontières, a recipient of the Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial Award and a former Hawthornden Fellow, Donal has also represented the City of Glasgow in both Berne (Scottish Writing Fellow) and Nuremberg (Hermann Kesten Fellow).

Known for his short stories, a number of which have appeared in translation, Donal published his first collection – an allergic reaction to national anthems & other stories – in 2009. It was long-listed for the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award in 2010, and also nominated for the inaugural Readers’ Best First Book Award of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. His second collection – beheading the virgin mary & other stories – was published to great acclaim in 2014. New work is – of course – in the pipeline. His story ‘upbringing, pre-escape lik’ was long-listed for the 2022 BBC National Short Story Award. Others have been appearing in journals and magazines.

His translation work includes: collaborating with Chris Dolan on a stage version of Bernhard Schlink‘s The Reader; Shards, a bilingual edition of the poetry of Stella Rotenberg (with Stephen Richardson); and over 100 writers for the New Swiss Writing anthologies (2008 – 2011). He is the English voice of Urs Widmer (six books, to date). He has also translated books by the German-Iraqi novelist Abbas Khider, and Swiss writers, Arno Camenisch, Monica Cantieni, Pedro Lenz and Christoph Simon.

In 2013, he was shortlisted for the Best Translated Book Award in the United States for his translation of Urs Widmer‘s My Father’s Book (Seagull). In 2015, he was awarded the Max Geilinger Prize in Zurich for his translations of Swiss fiction.

naw much of a talker by Pedro Lenz (Freight Books, 2013) was his first book-length dialect translation (see book cover below).

Donal has also edited selections of contemporary writing from Slovenia (with Janice Galloway), Latvia and Scotland.

He is a founding member of the Scottish Writers’ Centre which celebrates its tenth anniversary in September 2018.


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