Tue, Jan 01, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Wife of Slovakian envoy translates children’s books

Staff writer, with CNA

Slovak Economic and Cultural Office Taipei worker Lidka Podstavek displays her collection of children’s books at her home in Taipei on Sunday.

Photo: CNA

Ever since she followed her Slovakian husband to Taiwan following his posting to Taipei as a diplomat, Lidka Podstavek, whose Chinese name is Chen Liang (梁晨), has been working to promote cultural exchanges between Taiwan and the eastern European nation by translating children’s picture books from the two countries.

Lidka, born in Beijing in 1984, came into contact with Taiwan after her husband, Martin, was made head of the Slovak Economic and Cultural Office Taipei, where she also works.

Following her graduation from Beijing Foreign Studies University, where she majored in Slovakian language and cultures, she traveled to Slovakia in 2007 for further studies, eventually receiving a doctoral degree in linguistics and literature.

Although she dreamed of becoming a diplomat, it was her marriage that brought her to Taiwan, where she has since found an opportunity to promote diplomacy through cultural exchanges, the 34-year-old said.

After arriving in Taiwan in late 2017, she was impressed by the quality of Chinese-language children’s books, which she read to her two children, she said, adding that she was also impressed by the diversity of themes and drawing styles in local picture books.

At first she and her children borrowed books from libraries, but then they started buying them, quickly amassing more than 400 picture books at their Taipei home.

She has translated several into Slovakian, with detailed introductions about their authors and topics.

The Memory Forest of Grandma, written and illustrated by Tsui Yung-yen (崔永嬿), depicts how a child interacts with a grandmother with dementia.

“I was deeply touched,” Podstavek said, adding that she began translating them because she wanted to introduce Slovakian children to good literature.

However, she said she also wants to introduce Slovakian children’s books locally, because she believes reading is the best way to broaden horizons and enrich the map of the mind.

With assistance from the Ministry of Culture and the Slovakia Information and Cultural Center, she plans by the middle of this year to publish a Chinese-language picture book of an old Slovakian fairy tale that she translated, she said.

At the same time, she is also to publish in Slovakia a translation of a Taiwanese picture book about Joyce Meredith McMillan, a US missionary who founded a children’s home in central Taiwan in the mid-1990s.

She said she plans to invite Taiwanese authors and illustrators of children’s books to visit Slovakia, while Slovakian illustrators would also have exhibitions in Taiwan this year.

She said she is keen to introduce Taiwanese books to other European countries, including the Czech Republic and Germany.

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