Erica Johnson Debeljak

was born and raised in San Francisco, California. In 1980, she moved to New York City, where she studied French Literature at Columbia University and then went on to get an MBA from New York University. She worked as a banker for five years before moving to the capital of the newly independent Slovenia to marry a poet, Ales Debeljak. She settled in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, studied the language, and now works as a translator from Slovenian into English and as a popular essayist and columnist.


Dayton’s short-term goal of stopping hostilities was accomplished through the de facto partition of Bosnia. But its long-term goals of refugee return, reconciliation among ethnic groups, and gradual merging of the administrations of the Croat-Bosniac Federation and Srpska Republika into one functioning federal government have not been accomplished. Erica Johnson Debeljak returned to Sarajevo in 2004 to find its inhabitants’ heroism during the siege between 1992 and 1995 still unrewarded.

With the current state of book sales in the US, it is virtually impossible for translated works to make it to the bestseller lists. And, even if translations do end up gaining popularity, the translators themselves see little of the profits. Erica Johnson Debeljak looks at various views of translation and of the translator, and finds the outcome – a path leading people from different places who speak different languages toward the original work – to be the true benefit of translation.

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