Michelle Bailat-Jones was born in Kagoshima, Japan and then raised in the beautiful Pacific Northwest of the United States by a Scottish father and a Pennsylvania German mother. She’s lived mostly outside the US since 1999, studying and working in France and again on Kyushu, in Japan.
In 2005, she moved to Switzerland, where she is now a citizen and delighted to live in a country with four national languages. She speaks French and Japanese and is working very hard to add Italian to the mix.
Ideas and questions around culture, language, migration, and geography inspire both her writing and her passion for translation.
In 2021 she received a Bourse de Création Littéraire (Creative Writing Grant) from the Swiss Arts Council, Pro Helvetia, for her current novel-in-progress. The first to be granted for a project written in English, in the context of their programme to celebrate Switzerland’s “fifth languages”.
Finally, she serves on the advisory board for Weiter Schreiben Schweiz/Ecrire encore – Suisse, an organization that connects writers from conflict zones living in exile in Switzerland with local Swiss writers and literary audiences to ensure that the vital work of writing continues.
Her first novel, Fog Island Mountains (Tantor, 2014), won the 2013 Christopher Doheny Award from The Center for Fiction and Audible. More about the book here. The Doheny Award was offered from 2013 to 2017 to honor unpublished writers tackling the subject of serious illness. See the Audible blog post here about the award.
Recently published by Bloomsbury in Jan 2022 is Henry Dunant: The Man of the Red Cross, her translation of Corinne Chaponnière’s massive biography of Red Cross Founder, gloriously imperfect human, and winner of the first ever Nobel Peace Prize.
You can find a full list of Michelle’s short fiction and novel-length translations here, but she is pretty proud of Beauty on Earth and What if the Sun… by the renowned Swiss modernist C. F. Ramuz, both published by Skomlin Press in Australia and elsewhere, as well as Bullshit by Nicole Kranz and a series of prison letters and diaries between the great Claude Cahun and her partner Marcel Moore.
For complete lists of Michelle’s publications, please see the other pages on this site.
If you are looking to hire her for commercial translation or editing work, please find her here.
She is the Translations Editor for Necessary Fiction.
You can read her essay on reading, writing & translation here.