I didn’t quite know what to expect when I launched Zoom to interview Marina Sofia. Would she speak with a Romanian accent? What does a Romanian accent even sound like? As soon as Marina sang out “hello,” I realized those years spent as a translator living in the UK and all over Europe resulted in an unexpectedly legit British accent.
Marina was a longtime writer and reviewer I knew in the blogging community—we always connected over our mutual obsession for words and linguistics. In recent years, I lost touch with Marina. She moved around, I moved around. She changed professional paths, so did I. She started a business, and I started several.
When Marina reached out about being a guest on Love Your Enthusiasm, I said “yes” with zero hesitation. I was excited to learn that she co-founded an indie publishing house this year.
Marina and the other co-founders at Corylus Books are bringing authors from lesser-known regions (think: Romania or Iceland) in front of English-speaking audiences by translating and publishing works of fiction that in most cases would be overlooked by publishers.
Starting Corylus Books was largely made possible by Marina’s failed attempts to launch a career in mainstream publishing. This failure became a bonus, leading Marina down a different path where she had the freedom to support the kind of literature she wanted to see translated and published.
In Marina’s words, “If a door bangs in your face, try another door. Try a side door.” Marina knows how to pivot and reinvent herself, while staying committed to her passions. Hope you enjoy this fantastic episode.
Honoring Cross-Cultural Communication with Marina Sofia
Translator and Co-Founder of Corylus Books, Marina Sofia, believes books are a cornerstone of connection that highlights the universal human experience.
When she was 14 years old, Marina returned to her country of birth, Romania, after being at an international school where she was exposed to diverse cultures. As Romania was a dictatorship at the time, Marina was unable to speak with her friends—so she found solace in books. It was during this formative period that Marina saw just how powerful and transportive literature could be, showing worlds far beyond her own.
In our increasingly polarized world, where people seem to be shouting over one another more and listening even less, Marina’s story and message are timely. Writing and art allow for an unprecedented exchange between cultures, where we can not only see our similarities but cultivate an appreciation for our differences.
It feels like everybody’s retreating into the trenches, that people are shouting over each other instead of listening to each other. But I really think this won’t last. Art and literature and films will bring us closer once more. We’ll realize that we have a lot of common ground—and what is not common is worth exploring in more depth.