Miha Mazzini ought to be celebrating, but instead he’s hard at work completing a documentary film. Earlier this week, he was awarded a PhD in anthropology. On the heels of the degree ceremony came confirmation that he’s received a Pushcart Prize for his short story “That Winter,” which appeared in the fifth-anniversary issue of Ecotone. The journal’s editor, Ben George, deserves high praise for contributing to the achievement. “That Winter” was the first of Mazzini’s stories to be published in a magazine in the US.
Lest I make such accomplishments sound easy, I should mention that Mazzini’s short stories have been included in a dozen anthologies published in countries around the world. Nor am I accountable for his successes. On the contrary, I’m confounded by my good fortune. Having such talented clients makes an agent’s job infinitely easier.
Bringing translations of an acclaimed author’s work to readers in the English language is a particular pleasure, which Ben George expressed when he introduced Mazzini in Ecotone last year:
Can one “discover” someone who has written the best-selling novel of all time (The Cartier Project) in his native country? Who has written a separate novel (Guarding Hanna) whose translation was long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the largest cash prize in the world for a book of fiction published in English? Perhaps. If you can be a willing penitent and confess your ignorance.
Early in 2012, Charles Boyle, the publisher of CB editions in London, will enjoy the same professional satisfaction when he presents Urška Zupanec’s English translation of Mazzini’s entertaining and satirical novella The German Lottery to readers in the UK.
Yet another English translation of Mazzini’s work will appear in the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 4 later this year.
The author-screenwriter-director, who writes in the Slovene language, also works as a usability consultant and until recently turned in a weekly column for his employer’s news portal, SiOL.net. Apparently the word leisure only amuses him.
I could ask Mazzini if sustaining this level of productivity gets easier with experience, but I already know the answer. It doesn’t get easier, but perhaps the challenges of a career as a creative writer are slightly less frustrating when all the obstacles have become such familiar landmarks.