The Man Between: Michael Henry Heim and a Life in Translation


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$12.95  $11.91
Open Letter
Publish Date
5.5 X 0.9 X 8.4 inches | 1.0 pounds
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About the Author

Esther Allen translates from Spanish and French and has worked to promote a culture of translation in the English-speaking world, most notably by directing the PEN Translation Fund from 2003 to 2010 and helping launch the PEN World Voices Festival.

Sean Cotter teaches at the University of Texas at Dallas and translates Romanian poetry and fiction, including Nichita Stanescu's Wheel with a Single Spoke for which he received the 2013 Best Translated Book Award.

Russell Scott Valentino is the current president of the American Literary Translators Association. He is also a professor at Indiana University, a translator, and the founder of Autumn Hill Books. He previously ran the Iowa Review.


"Well translated, the novel is tart and testy, filled with insight into writers' ability to lie, omit, and fabricate."--Publishers Weekly

"The Man Between not only offers a fascinating glimpse of Michael Henry Heim, its reportedly modest and reticent protagonist, but of translators themselves -- the invaluable but often invisible men and women in today's literary marketplace." --Helen Epstein, Arts-Fuse

"This is a wonderful and illuminating account of a wonderful and luminous writer. Heim's impact on American letters was profound and far-reaching. [The Man Between] pays handsome tribute to the work of a uniquely adventurous translator, and shows just how much we all owe to him."--David Bellos

"Michael Henry Heim was an unusual person, a scholar of many talents, a dedicated linguist, a gifted translator. With his passing, I have lost a friend. The gap he leaves will not be filled."--GΓΌnter Grass

"This delightful collection provides a richly detailed portrait of the life and work of an extraordinary writer, translator, linguist, scholar, educator, benefactor, intellectual--above all, an extraordinary human being. . . . I am proud to have known this brilliant--and yet entirely unassuming and modest--polymath. Readers of The Man Between are in for a rare pleasure!"--Marjorie Perloff

"When I met Michael Henry Heim in the mid-Eighties, I was surprised he was a being of flesh and blood. I had expected an urbane, Borgesian phantasm composed of libraries and dictionaries, an angelic messenger of subtle powers, who could acquire another difficult language between spring and summer every year. He was all that. But he was also a smiling, warm enthusiast, generous and modest, and a passionate Los Angeleno--alive to issues of Californian ecology and utopian politics. Mike was one of literature's greatest advocates, who threw open door after door--to individual writers, to worlds of reading, to his idealistic vision of 'Happy Babel.' The Man Between gives us a valuable manifesto about translation as a crucial way of making literature, as well as a marvellously rich, polyphonous portrait of a uniquely brilliant mind and a most wonderful, kind man."--Marina Warner