Jen Calleja is a freelance writer, literary translator (working from German into English), and poet based in London. Her works have appeared in several journals and magazines including Granta and The Modernist Review. In 2012 she founded the Anglo-German arts journal Verfreundungseffekt.

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She offers mentoring programmes as well as courses and workshops on creative writing and literary translation, both online and through various organisations including Aryon Foundation, The British Library, and The Poetry School. Together with Kat Storace, she founded Praspar Press in the UK in 2020, with the aim of presenting contemporary Maltese literature written in English as well as in English translation.

She was born in 1986 in Sussex. Calleja studied Media and Modern Literature at Goldsmiths, followed by an MA in German Studies at University College London. She is currently completing a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of East Anglia. She has been the recipient of a Core Park Literature and Translation residency (2021), and an Author’s Foundation grant (Society of Authors, 2018). Calleja has been on the judging panel of: The London Magazine Short Story Prize (2021); Schlegel-Tieck Prize (2021); Anthea Bell Prize for Young Translators (2021); and the Austrian Cultural Forum London Translation Prize (2017). She was also writer in residence with index Freiraum (Zurich, 2016-2017); translator in residence at the British Library (2017-2019), and Austrian Cultural Forum London (2015-2017). She was acting editor of New Books in German, and translations and reviews coordinator at 12 Swiss Books, as well as guest poetry editor at No Man’s Land.

Calleja is the author of two collections of poetry and four works of fiction. Her poetic stories in Serious Justice (2016) were shortlisted for the Melita Hume Poetry Prize. She then published Hamburger in the Archive in 2019. This was followed by her essays Goblins (2020), I’m Afraid That’s All We’ve Got Time For (2020), Dust Sucker (2023), and Vehicle: a verse novel (2023) for which Calleja has completed two book tours. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in notable magazines and journals, including The White Review, The London Magazine and Ambit; with her story “Edit History – published in Best British Short Stories 2021 ed. by Nicholas Royle – being shortlisted for the Short Fiction University of Essex Prize (2020).

Jen Calleja’s reviews and essays have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, PORT, The Architectural Review, History Today and many others. Calleja has also written a long-running column on literature in translation for the Brixton Review of Books and The Quietus.

She has translated over fifteen works of contemporary German-language fiction and literary non-fiction into English. Her translation of The Pine Islands (2019) by Marion Poschmann was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize and nominated for the Dublin Literary Award in 2021. Calleja was also nominated for the latter in 2020 for her translation of My father was a man on land and a whale in the water (2018) by Michelle Steinbeck. Her translation of Dance by the Canal (2017) by Kerstin Hensel was shortlisted for the Schlegel-Tieck Prize in 2018, and The Liquid Land (2021) by Raphaela Edelbauer was shortlisted for the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize in 2022. Calleja also edits translations from German and acts as a literary consultant on German-language and translated literature for English PEN, Arts Council England and other publishers and publications.

For Praspar Press, Storace and Calleja have edited and published the ‘Scintillas: New Maltese Writing’ series. These editions place prose, poetry and literary non-fiction side-by-side, always dividing the works into two separate yet similar segments. The third edition of ‘Scintillas’ will be published in November 2023.

Calleja continues to be intrigued by and explore the theoretical, educational and practical elements of translation and its role in society and culture. She is working on three new books: Goblinhood: goblin as a mode (October 2023) and a novel with the working title of  Court of Lore; and Fair: a literary translator memoir (both expected in 2023). When it comes to translations, we have Gina by Reto Pulfer and The Diary of Marlene Marder by Marlene Marder to look forward to, as well as a second non-fiction book for Fitzcarraldo Editions.

Biography written by Ruth Frendo.



Supported by

Arts Council Malta

Creative Industries Platform

Project co-ordinator: Clare Azzopardi

With the help of: Kirsty Azzopardi, Leanne Ellul and Albert Gatt

Proofreader: Dwayne Ellul

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