Though it is difficult enough to write well in one’s native tongue, an extraordinary group of authors has written enduring poetry and prose in a second, third, or even fourth language. Switching Languages is the first anthology in which translingual authors from throughout the world examine their experiences writing in more than one language or in a language other than their primary one. Driven by factors as varied as migration, imperialism, a quest for verisimilitude, and a desire to assert artistic autonomy, translingualism has a long and brilliant history.
In Switching Languages, Steven G. Kellman brings together several notable authors from the past one hundred years who discuss their personal translingual experiences and their take on a general phenomenon that has not received the attention it deserves. Contributors to the book include Chinua Achebe, Julia Alvarez, Mary Antin, Elias Canetti, Rosario Ferré, Ha Jin, Salman Rushdie, Léopold Sédar Senghor, and Ilan Stavans. They offer vivid testimony to the challenges and achievements of literary translingualism.