O'Dwyer, Tess 1966-

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O'DWYER, Tess 1966-

PERSONAL: Born June 2, 1966, in Red Bank, NJ; daughter of J. F. (a contractor) and Chung Soon (an artist; maiden name, Fwhang) O'Dwyer. Education: Rutgers University, M.A., 1990. Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Painting, fiction.

ADDRESSES: Home—187 Heyers Mill Rd., Colts Neck, New Jersey 07722.

CAREER: Freelance translator (Spanish literature), 1990—.

MEMBER: Modern Language Association, Poetry Society of America, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Sigma Iota, Salmagundi Club.

AWARDS, HONORS: Awards from Columbia University's Translation Center and from Salmagundi Club.


(Translator) Giannina Braschi, Empire of Dreams (poems and fiction), Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1994.

(Translator) Alberto Blest Gana, Martin Rivas (novel), Oxford University Press, 2000.

Contributor of translations to periodicals.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Translating Yo-Yo Boing, a bilingual novel by Giannina Braschi for Latin American Literary Press.

SIDELIGHTS: Tess O'Dwyer told CA: "The only way to know precisely what an author means is to become the author. The translator becomes the author in the same way that an actor becomes the character. Memorizing the lines in Spanish and reciting the words as if they were my own, I traded my voice for the dramatic voices of the lyric 'I,' whose adventures and emotional states vary from book to book in Empire of Dreams. Swapping names, ages, nationalities, and genders, Giannina Braschi's characters are a cast of actors playing the roles of other characters. As a translator, I tried out for every part.

"I played the writer Giannina Braschi, who played the writer Mariquita Samper, who played the writer Berta Singerman and an array of other characters. With reddyed hair, surgically implanted freckles, and a gold tooth, I especially enjoyed the role of Drag Queen. But the most gratifying moment was when I shot the narrator of the Latin American Boom, who kept rewriting my diary. Once he was out of the way, my thoughts flowed freely onto the pages. By the end of Empire of Dreams, I had lived so many lives that I no longer felt I was a character. I was all of them and, therefore, the author herself. I fancied myself annoyed that Giannina had translated the work into Spanish before I had the chance to write it in English! I thought of all my transformations. Had they been in vain? I became the actor who became the character who became the author. Now what would I become? The translator. And how was I to do it? With the respect that great literature deserves."

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O'Dwyer, Tess 1966-

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