New Book Translation: "Marie Schlau's Legacy" by BabelFAmily Authors

I'm very proud to announce a volunteering project I've officially started contributing to after spending a couple of years anxiously waiting for this incredible effort to be completed. It is a collective novel named El legado de Marie Schlau and it was put together in order to raise awareness of a disease called Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA)

When I first heard about the project, I contacted coordinator Gian Piero Sommaruga to ask how I could help them spread the word through translation. After following up on the project development for the past few months, I received a copy of the final electronic version of the original book this January and was thrilled to get it started right away. I am now six hours into this Spanish-to-Portuguese translation, having covered 6,164 of 183,625 words on this long-term volunteering assignment.

The project was first conceived back in December 2010, when Spanish author Maria Blasco Gamarra contacted the BabelFAmily Association with the ambitious idea to write a novel with other authors from all over the world who, like her, suffer from FA. Profits from book sales would then be donated to a biomedical research to find a cure for the illness. Seventeen authors from different countries came together to write a few chapters in their native language―either Spanish, English, or Portuguese―and tell the story of Marie Schlau and her family, dating back to the mid 1800s, as well as a parallel narrative in the present time.

Here is a list of these talented writers and where they come from: 

  • Sarah Allen ― England
  • Susan Allen Carter ― USA
  • Nicola Batty ― England
  • Marguerite Black ― South Africa
  • María Blasco Gamarra ― Spain
  • Fátima D'Oliveira ― Portugal
  • María Luz González Casas ― Spain
  • Jamie Leigh Hansen ― USA
  • Claudia Parada ― Mexico
  • María Pino Brumberg ― Spain
  • Eva Plaza González ― Spain
  • Diego Plaza González ― Spain
  • Inmaculada Priego Priego ― Spain
  • Rebecca Stant ― Australia
  • Pilar Ana Tolosana ― Spain
  • Ramón Roldán Herreruela ― Spain
  • Miren Kristina Zarrantz Elizalde ― Spain

And here's the official synopsis:

The story begins in the U.S. in the first half of the twentieth century, 1936, ingeniously going back in time to Germany in the early nineteenth century. The life of Marie Schlau, a German Jewish girl born in 1833, hides great unsolved mysteries: Accidents, disappearances, enigmas, unknown diagnoses, disturbing murders, love, tenderness, greed, lies, death... 

Alternatively a different story unfolds and takes us closer to the present. Thus, there are two parallel stories unravelling, each in a different age and place, which surprisingly converge in a revelatory chapter. Of course, Friedreich's Ataxia is an important and interesting protagonist in both stories. Excitement is served up and it is not to be missed!

To receive updates on the book release in different languages, I strongly suggest that you follow the Facebook pages dedicated to book news and the BabelFAmily project itself. For the time being, I'd like to leave you with this touching teaser to the documentary being produced on this courageous literary effort.


RAFA LOMBARDINO is a translator and journalist from Brazil who lives in California. She has been working as a translator since 1997 and, in 2011, started to join forces with self-published authors to translate their work into Portuguese and English. In addition to acting as content curator at eWordNews, she also runs Word Awareness, a small network of professional translators, and coordinates two projects to promote Brazilian literature worldwide: Contemporary Brazilian Short Stories (CBSS) and Cuentos Brasileños de la Actualidad (CBA).