8 Questions with Natascha Bruce

Natascha Bruce is a Chinese-to-English translator, with works including Yeng Pway Ngon’s Lonely Face and Dorothy Tse's Q featured in BooksActually’s Gold Standard.


Which talent would you most like to have?

Either portrait painting or extreme, intoxicating charisma.


What is your most treasured possession?

I could not withstand the terror of having a definitive answer to this question. I prefer to hedge my bets and treasure lots of things. But if I could choose a whole category of possessions, it would be letters and notes.


What is your idea of perfect happiness?

My most recent experience of perfect happiness was yesterday, when I played Alanis Morissette’s Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie album after a long break and remembered how much I love it. My idea of perfect happiness is being in love (with art, people, a view, whatever) and feeling so conscious of it I could pass out.


What is your motto?

I’ve never thought of it as a motto, but I often have to remind myself, ‘Just show up.’ Meaning: show up at the page, translate one sentence, see what happens.


How would you like to die?

The most important thing is that I would not like to die in a plane crash. Part of me worries that making this public will only tempt fate but, on the other hand, perhaps it’s helpful for the gods to have it in writing: not a plane crash, I beg you. I hope to feel something other than pure terror in those final moments. I hope there’s time to move peacefully through the tunnel of light.


If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be?

A crocodile, without a doubt. I want to live in a remote, balmy wetland and cruise around all day with only my eyes above the waterline. Every so often, I’d like a bird to stop by and clean my teeth for me. I’d enjoy being both effortlessly menacing and the chattiest of all reptiles, and – especially if I had any recollection of my former, human life – I would be very smug about my ability to turn my heart off and check out from the world for about six months at a time.


What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Virility being perceived as a virtue has a lot to answer for.


What is your current state of mind?

Idealising crocodiles. Despairing and furious. In the absence of extreme, policy-swaying charisma, fantasising about rising from the swamp and tearing to shreds anyone who still thinks capitalism is inevitable and good.