Born and raised in the Chicago area, Leah Janeczko studied Comparative Literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign until 1991, when she ventured off to study for a semester in Milan. Prolonging her stay time and time again to further perfect her Italian, she never found her way back home.
In her early years in Italy she taught English to businesspeople, including many at the local Walt Disney offices, which became the headquarters of Global Magazines, responsible for developing 70% of Disney’s worldwide comics content. By moonlighting for them as a translator she found a natural outlet for her creativity working with comics, films, magazines and books. It grew to be her passion and she became a full-time translator for readers of all ages.
Leah loves translating everything from novels to comics, from children’s poems to screenplays. She particularly enjoys coming up with clever adaptations for jokes, rhymes and wordplay in general. Having lived in Milan for over 30 years, she speaks excellent modern-day Italian and fully understands its nuances. She remains faithful to the author’s voice and style while also taking great care to make her translation read as smoothly as their original text.
Now with over 25 years of experience in literary translation, Leah has been published by Macmillan, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Pushkin Press, HarperCollins and others, and for international book fairs has translated samples of literary works by some of Italy’s leading contemporary authors. See a list of Leah’s literary translations.
In 2022, two of her translations (Glowrushes by Roberto Piumini and Lost on Me by Veronica Raimo) were awarded funding from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
Her related professional activities include:
The Italian Prose in Translation Award 2023 for the American Literary Translators Association, acting as a judge with Jamie Richards and Jenny McPhee. (Leah was shortlisted for this award in 2020 for her translation of Rosella Postorino’s novel Le assaggiatrici. Read about At the Wolf’s Table.)
Essays residency (2022), a month-long summer residency organized by CEPELL (the Center for Books and Reading, an independent institute of the Italian Ministry of Culture) and the Fondazione Ugo Da Como in Lonato del Garda. Project: The translation and promotion of children’s books by Roberto Piumini.
ViceVersa Italian/English (2019), a week-long residential peer-to-peer workshop in Switzerland bringing together ten literary translators (half working into English, half working into Italian) organized by the Translation House Looren. Translation presented: The novella L’amorosa figura by Roberto Piumini.
Business Negotiations & Negotiations for Editorial Translators (2018), a workshop held in Italian by business coach Arduino Mancini and organized by AITI, the Italian Association of Translators and Interpreters.
Storytelling Tools, a 15-hour course taught in Italian by scriptwriter Riccardo Secchi, exploring the fundamentals of storytelling in literary texts and scripts for cinema, television and comics.
She also works directly with Italian authors who want to self-publish or find a publisher abroad. Read about Leah’s work with authors.
To companies of all sizes she provides a range of creative services. Read about Leah’s work with businesses.
She also writes song lyrics for Italian bands and acts as an English coach for their singers. Read about Leah’s work with musicians.
Leah is a member of Strade, StradeLab, the American Literary Translators Association, the Society of Authors, the Authors Guild, SIAE and Note Legali.
Leah is a brilliant translator: precise and dependable and utterly respectful of the authors’ voice.
Leah is a like a many-faceted precious gem. When she translates a literary work she knows how to delve into the writer’s spirit and render the same thought in the target language.
To her, translating is a focused, joyfully furious act of “wrestling with the angel” – both when the text to be translated is angelic and when, poor thing, it needs to be saved from itself.
A real translator. And I’m not kidding. Skilled, fast, friendly (even gifted with a sense of humor!) and full of constructive ideas.
Leah Janeczko uses her creativity, passion
and expert knowledge of Italian and English
to help others express their authentic voice
in a language not their own.