I translate contemporary fiction, non-fiction and poetry from German and Dutch into English. I’ve translated works by Rudolph Herzog, Hanna Bervoets, Nina Polak, Hilde Domin, Hans Lodeizen and others. My translations have been published by Melville House, Strangers Press, Levine Querido, Literary Hub and more, and have been read at the Crossing Border Festival and the Writers Unlimited Winternachten Festival in The Hague, the Berlin Poetry Festival and the International Book Festival in Budapest. I’m the recipient of the 2017 GINT Translation Prize.
In addition to book translations, I regularly translate samples and excerpts. I also write reader’s reports on works published in German and Dutch for English-language publishers, evaluating these titles for their suitability for translation and their viability for commercial publication. I have a special interest in essays and travel writing, poetry, LGBT voices and stories about migration, exile and displacement.
We Had to Remove This Post
Mariner Books/Picador, May 2022
For readers of Leila Slimani’s The Perfect Nanny or Ling Ma’s Severance: a tight, propulsive, chilling novel by a rising international star about a group of young colleagues working as social media content monitors—reviewers of violent or illegal videos for an unnamed megacorporation—who convince themselves they’re in control . . . until the violence strikes closer to home.
“Translated into English with appropriate jitteriness and jarriness by Emma Rault. A brave enterprise for both writer and translator…taut as a thriller, sharp as a slug of ice-cold vodka.” — The Irish Times
“A discomfiting mystery about the disturbing parts of social media that most people never see…surprising and enigmatic…intriguing and frustrating.” — The New York Times
“This is, unironically, a novel for our time.” — starred review, Kirkus Reviews
“Bervoets’ writing is vivid, eerie, and beguilingly conversational…Powerful, discussable, and a harbinger of a voice-in-translation to watch.” — starred review, Booklist
“Hanna Bervoets’s acid-dipped novella is a glimpse of the foetid underbelly of the internet and a sobering consideration of who is deciding what we see, and at what cost.” — The Times
“I sat down to read Hanna’s novel—brilliantly translated from the Dutch by Emma Rault—and was so gripped, I couldn’t put it down.” — Ansa Khan Khattak, commissioning editor at Picador UK
“An acid glimpse into a new form of labor existing today…Fascinating and disturbing.” — Ling Ma, author of Severance
“We Had to Remove This Post is one of the most fascinating books I’ve read in years…Fast-paced and thrilling, violent and nightmarish and grief-stricken, but also tender and wildly moving. A brilliant peek behind the curtains at what happens when we put our trust in social media.” — Kristen Arnett, author of Mostly Dead Things and With Teeth
The Days of Bluegrass Love
Edward van de Vendel
Levine Querido, May 2022
Tycho Zeling is drifting through his life. Everything in it—school, friends, girls, plans for the future—just kind of happens. Like a movie he presses play on, but doesn’t direct. So Tycho decides to break away from everything. He flies to America to spend his summer as a counselor at a summer camp, for international kids. It is there that Oliver walks in, another counselor, from Norway. And it is there that Tycho feels his life stop, and begin again, finally, as his.
“Dutch author van de Vendel’s writing is poetic, intensely emotional, and sensitively philosophical in this beautiful translation by Rault…An enduring story populated with endearing characters.” — starred review, Kirkus Reviews
“This superb novel is beautifully written, with apposite mood and tone as well as unforgettable characters that make the story a richly realized exercise in empathy. First published in the Netherlands, this book has become a classic in Europe. It should absolutely become the same here.” — starred review, Booklist
“A sensitive portrayal of sexual awakening and queer first love” — Publishers Weekly
Strangers Press, 2020
Ghosts of Berlin
Melville House, 2019
★ Voted one of the best books of 2019 by Lit Hub
Berlin’s hip present comes up against the city’s dark past in these seven supernatural tales by the son of the great filmmaker who “shares his father’s curious and mordant wit” (The Financial Times).
In these hair-raising stories from the celebrated filmmaker and author Rudolph Herzog, millennial Berliners discover that the city is still the home of many unsettled—and deeply unsettling—ghosts. And those ghosts are not very happy about the newcomers. Thus the coddled daughter of a rich tech executive finds herself slowly tormented by the poltergeist of a Weimer-era laborer, and a German intelligence officer confronts a troll wreaking havoc upon the city’s unbuilt airport. An undead Nazi sympathizer romances a Greek emigre, while Turkish migrants curse the gentrifiers that have evicted them.
Herzog’s keen observational eye and acid wit turn modern city stories into deliciously dark satires that ride the knife-edge of suspenseful and terrifying.
“Celebrated filmmaker and author, Rudolph Herzog—yes, the son of Werner Herzog—has written a collection of ghost stories set in Berlin, as told by the Millennials who now live there. Linking all the stories is the globalized character of Berlin and the lingering effects of the war on both the city and its people (…) Herzog’s stories are utterly atmospheric, engrossing, refreshing, and devoid of pretense.” — Literary Hub
“A shrewd and provocative collection of fiction, Ghosts of Berlin is translated into English by the equally sharp Emma Rault.” — Shelf Awareness
“Sharp satire, and a worthy addition to the growing canon of Berlin ghost-lit.” — Booklist
In the Trap of the Language
Bernke Klein Zandvoort
Mister Motley, 2023
I look at a page in one of her diaries where, next to a boat with lots of wavy lines, it says fishingwithdad in the uneven scrawl of a child still just getting used to manifesting thoughts by pen, the words caked together the way you tend to experience things in childhood: as a single, uninterrupted stream.
We Had to Remove This Post (excerpt)
On the first day of training, a series of text-only posts appeared on our screens, and then, from day three, photos, videos, and livestreams. Each time, the question was: Is it okay to leave this up on the platform? And if not, why not?
Asymptote, October 2020
‘The lobster is the martyr of our ethical primitivism,’ he tells me as he carefully scrubs mushrooms for his famous Quiche Borraine, ‘both our inability to empathise with other life forms and our stubborn tendency towards infidelity.’ I’m not sure if he knows that he’s really talking about my stubborn tendency towards infidelity (which, technically speaking, isn’t infidelity: we have clear agreements on the subject).
Hinterland Magazine, 24 August 2020
‘Never fall in love with a taken man,’ that German teacher slurred into my ear at a school dance (her lips black from the red wine, her eyes tired). I took her inappropriate advice to heart: I fell in love with a taken woman. A tigress, who prides herself on the fact that she is both wild and chained. Insufferable. Irresistible. A force of nature.
Literary Hub, October 2019
“Why are you drinking so much?” the daughter wants to know.
“Because the ghosts are back.”
“There are no ghosts.”
“Then call it the past.”
from Simone Atangana Bekono’s residency at the Crossing Border Festival in The Hague
The Chronicles, October 2019
In the restaurant where we went on to have dinner, I counted the opportunities for escape: via the patio out back and then over the low wall, or I could excuse myself to go to the restroom and slip out through the entrance. Nothing gives you peace of mind like having an escape plan.
Apostle of Jack, Arthur, John and Paul
Asymptote, January 2018
Many people meditate to attain a certain contemplative, emotional, or even transcendental state, but I’m too restless for that. I can think more clearly (feel more clearly?) if I’m doing something. I think with my hands—writing—and I think with my legs: traveling.
Visiting the Snow Queen
Queen Mob's Tea House (part of their Queer Translation feature), October 2016
The heavy conference table with the leather chairs, the desk with the curved claw feet, the green desk lamp, the curtain, the bronze sculpture of a dancing woman. All this was hers. Every day she looked at all of these things, even if only in passing; she touched them often. All these lifeless things spoke to her each day and were brought to life by her presence, and now they spoke to me of her.
Excerpt from “Pantyhose for Daisy” by Dewi de Nijs Bik
SAND Journal, November 2023 (forthcoming)
2 poems by Hans Lodeizen
Astra Magazine, autumn 2022
2 poems by Hilde Domin
Modern Poetry in Translation, autumn 2021
10 poems by Kurt De Boodt
Flanders Literature, October 2021
2 poems by Tom Van de Voorde
ANMLY, spring 2021
6 poems by Hilde Domin
no man's land, winter 2020
2 poems by Tom Van de Voorde
Verseville, December 2020
2 poems by Asha Karami
Versopolis, January 2020
‘The City Where I Was Born Is Vast’ and ‘Sprite Is Weak Coca Cola’
2 poems by Tom Van de Voorde
Action Books blog, May 2020
3 poems by Vicky Francken
Poetry International, May 2020
4 poems by Hilde Domin
New Books in German, April 2018
Translator-in-Residence, 2019 Crossing Border Festival
In 2019 I was invited to take part in The Chronicles, the joint writer-translator residency program at the Crossing Border Festival in The Hague. I was paired with Dutch poet and author Simone Atangana Bekono. During each day of the festival she generated a new piece of writing which I had to translate that same afternoon. On the final evening of the festival, this culminated in a live event where we discussed our collaboration alongside the four other writer-translator pairs. The work Simone produced as part of the festival is archived here (in Dutch, and in my English translations).
Juror, GINT Translation Prize (2021, 2019, 2018)
Sponsored by the German Publishers and Booksellers Association and the Frankfurt Book Fair New York, the Geisteswissenschaften International Non-Fiction Translation Prize aims to draw the attention of publishers and English-language scholars to outstanding translation from German to English in the humanities.
Winner, 2017 GINT Translation Prize
‘In awarding the top honors to Emma Rault, the jurors found much to praise in her translation…[which] displayed an excellent understanding of the subject matter and command of the terminology in this area of scholarship, as well as a fine use of language that conveyed the text’s complexity in a reader-friendly style.’
– Jury’s Statement for the 2017 Geisteswissenschaften International Nonfiction Translators Prize