It feels like everybody’s retreating into the trenches, that people are shouting over each other instead of listening to each other. But I really think this won’t last. Art and literature and films will bring us closer once more. We’ll realize that we have a lot of common ground—and what is not common is worth exploring in more depth.
Translator and Co-Founder of Corylus Books, Marina Sofia, believes books are a cornerstone of connection that highlights the universal human experience.
When she was 14 years old, Marina returned to her country of birth, Romania, after being at an international school where she was exposed to diverse cultures. As Romania was a dictatorship at the time, Marina was unable to speak with her friends—so she found solace in books. It was during this formative period that Marina saw just how powerful and transportive literature could be, showing worlds far beyond her own.
In this episode, Marina shares how she fostered her love for cross-cultural communication both academically and professionally. She sheds light on the soul-crushing experience she faced trying to break into the publishing world and the ultimate blessing this constant rejection proved to be.
Marina’s resilience shines through as she easily could have let this setback dissuade her from publishing works in lesser-known European languages in English. But Marina persisted and the literary world is all the better for it. She also touches on her translating work and the fascinating insights literary translation gives her.
In our increasingly polarized world, where people seem to be shouting over one another more and listening even less, Marina’s story and message are timely. Writing and art allow for an unprecedented exchange between cultures, where we can not only see our similarities but cultivate an appreciation for our differences.
In this episode, Marina shares:
- Her background and how her passion for cross-cultural communication was ignited through school and books.
- Some of the must-visit places in Romania.
- How she came to co-found a publishing house after working in the corporate world for years.
- Advice for authors from underserved groups or geographic locations to find smaller publishing houses.
- How her understanding of accomplishment has evolved over time.
- Refocusing techniques that help clear her mind, from freeform writing to anime.
- Why community is her main source of inspiration and some groups she’s been a part of.
- How she has created a close community on Twitter.
- Words that have inspired her most—and have encouraged her to continue writing pursuits.
- Insights into her translation work, the difficulties that come with it, and the role of continual learning.
- Her most celebrated failure and what she has learned about herself from setbacks.
- Final words of advice for aspiring writers who dream of being published.
- What she believes the role of writing and art will be in these increasingly polarized times.
Marina Sofia is the co-founder of Corylus Books, an independent publishing house that aims at bringing crime fiction with a social dimension from lesser-known European languages in front of an English-speaking audience. Marina is a translator, reviewer, writer, blogger—self-proclaimed global nomad, culture broker, and book addict.
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