David Bellos

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David Bellos (born 1945) is an English-born translator and biographer. Bellos is Meredith Howland Pyne Professor of French Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University in the United States.[1] He was director of Princeton's Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication from its inception in 2007 until July 1, 2019.


Bellos' research topics have included Honoré de Balzac and Georges Perec. Bellos published a translation of Perec's most famous novel, Life A User's Manual, in 1987. He won the first Man Booker International Prize for translation in 2005 for his translations of works by Albanian author Ismail Kadare, despite not speaking Albanian; the translations were done from previous French translations.[2]

Bellos has written three literary biographies and an introduction to translation studies, Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and The Meaning of Everything (2011).[3] His most recent book, The Novel of the Century, tells the story of how Victor Hugo wrote Les Misérables.

He appears in The Magnificent Tati, a documentary about the filmmaker Jacques Tati.[4]

He is the father of writer and broadcaster Alex Bellos.[5]

Awards and honours[edit]




  • Georges Perec. A Life in Words, 1993. (Prix Goncourt de la biographie). French edition, 1994. Japanese edition, 2014. Hebrew edition, 2016. New edition in French, forthcoming 2021; German, Turkish and Chinese translations in progress.
  • Jacques Tati. His Life and Art, 1999. French edition, 2002
  • Romain Gary. A Tall Story, Harvill Secker, November 2010

Other books[edit]

  • Balzac Criticism in France, 1850–1900. The Making of a Reputation. Oxford, 1976
  • La Cousine Bette. A Critical Guide. London, 1981
  • Old Goriot (Landmarks of World Literature). Cambridge, 1987. Hebrew translation, Tek Aviv, 1990.
  • Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything. London and New York, 2011. Paperback edition, 2012.
    French translation by Daniel Loayza as Le poisson & le bananier, Flammarion, 2012, republished in 2017 as La Traduction dans tous ses états. Spanish translation by Vicente Campos, as Un Pez en la higuera. Ariel, 2012. German translation by Silvia Morawetz as Was macht der Fisch in meinem Ohr?, Eichborn, 2013. Russian translation by Natalia Shahova, Azbuka, 2019. Traditional Chinese translation, Rye Field, Taipei, 2019
  • The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables. London and New York, 2017. Korean edition, 2018. Japanese edition, 2018. Chinese edition, forthcoming 2019


  1. ^ David Bellos at Princeton University
  2. ^ a b "The Englishing of Ismail Kadare" by David Bellos, complete review Quarterly, vol. VI, issue 2 – May 2005
  3. ^ Is That A Fish In Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything at Janklow & Nesbit
  4. ^ The Magnificent Tati on IMDb
  5. ^ Anon (2017). "Bellos, Alexander". Who's Who. ukwhoswho.com (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.289184. (subscription or UK public library membership required) (subscription required)
  6. ^ "The 2017 American Library in Paris Book Award goes to The Novel of the Century" (Press release). American Library in Paris. Google Drive. 2017-11-03. Retrieved 2018-01-03.

External links[edit]