About Tom Christensen
The "official" short bio is beneath the rule below. Briefly, I'm an author, editor, illustrator, translator, graphic designer, photographer, webmaster, Mayanist, typehead, etc., and a one-time caterer, cherry picker, delivery boy, dish washer, disk jockey, driver, janitor, jellybean maker, laborer, mattress salesman, photographer, poster salesman, railyard laborer, Santa Claus manager, teacher, tobacco cutter ...
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My most recent book, Landscape with Yellow Birds, is a translation of selected poems of José Ángel Valente. Other books include 1616: The World in Motion; New World/New Words: Recent Writing from the Americas; The U. S.–Mexican War; and The Discovery of America, as well as translations of books by such authors as Laura Esquivel, Carlos Fuentes, Julio Cortázar, Alejo Carpentier, and Louis-Ferdinand Céline. Two new books—River of Ink: Literary and Historical Essays and a biography of an important figure in U.S. Modernism—are currently in the works (stay tuned).
1616 was a finalist for a Northern California Book Reviewers Award in nonfiction, and it was named one of the ten best history books of its season by Publishers Weekly. My translation of Ballets Without Music, Without Dancers, Without Anything by Louis-Ferdinand Céline was a finalist for the PEN America West translation award. I received a special award for dedication to translation from the American Literary Translators Association. While I was executive editor of Mercury House, an independent literary press, we were nominated for a Carey-thomas Award for excellence in publishing.
I collaborated with my wife, Carol, on The U.S–Mexican War, which was a companion book to a national PBS television series, and as ghost writers of another PBS companion book, The American Promise. We were also co-editors of The Discovery of America and Other Myths, and co-translators of several translations.Translations include works by Carlos Fuentes, Alejo Carpentier, Julio Cortázar, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, and the national best-seller Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, among others. His translation of Ballets Without Music, Without Dancers, I received a special award for dedication to translation from the American Literary Translators Association.
I was the principal author of Bridge to Understanding: The Art and Architecture of San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum. I have written critical essays and introductions to such books as Sylvie and Bruno by Lewis Carroll, The Getting of Wisdom by Henry Handel Richardson, and Hieroglyphic Tales by Horace Walpole, and have published essays in many books and journals. Much of this work will be collected in my forthcoming book River of Ink.
I have served on many panels, including the National Endowment for the Arts, for which I reviewed translation and creative writing grant applications.
I have worked extensively as a graphic designer and have designed and typeset a large number of books, including several catalogues of museum art exhibitions. I received my BA, MA, and ABD in comparative literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Carol and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.