Jen Calleja

Add to shortlist

Photograph: Sophie Davidson



Jen Calleja is a writer and literary translator based in London.

Her fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry have appeared in The London Magazine, Ambit, Another Gaze, 3:AM, Somesuch Stories, Hotel, and in the anthologies On Relationships (3 of Cups, 2020) and Spells: 21st Century Occult Poetry (Ignota, 2018). Her reviews and articles have been published by the TLS, History Today, Modern Poetry in Translation and the New Statesman, and she has had long-running columns on literature in translation in The Quietus and the Brixton Review of Books. She has translated over a dozen works of German-language literature, specialising in contemporary literary fiction and literary non-fiction. She was the inaugural Translator in Residence at the British Library, and her translations have featured in The New Yorker, Granta, The White Review, Literary Hub and elsewhere. She was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2019 for her translation of Marion Poschmann’s The Pine Islands (Serpent’s Tail), and for the Schlegel-Tieck Prize 2018 for Kerstin Hensel’s Dance by the Canal (Peirene Press).

Jen has published two collections of poetry, Serious Justice (Test Centre, 2016) and Hamburger in the Archive (if a leaf falls, 2019), both LRB Bookshop Staff Picks. Her pamphlet essay Goblins is forthcoming from Rough Trade Books. Jen has also just published her first collection of short fiction, I’m Afraid That’s All We’ve Got Time For (Prototype, 2020).

Praise for  I'm Afraid That's All We've Got Time For (2020)

'Calleja’s snaking and startling stories contain artful sentences, in which the comic and the unsettling sit side-by-side.' Irish Times

'Comic, inventive and surreal, I’m Afraid That’s All We’ve Got Time For renders a world unfamiliar yet familiar with each bright shard of a story.' Sophie Mackintosh, author of The Water Cure

'Calleja’s writing combines wit, guile and style – social intricacies and powerplay are explored and exploded in this formidable collection.' Eley Williams, author of Attrib.

'Calleja creates worlds where "there is so much space between molecules that we never really touch anyone or anything." Reading about busses on detours, short windows opening and closing, erased identities, air kisses, blank books and books yet to be written, I felt held at arm’s length of something crucially important. Deferral and near misses are at the core of Calleja’s writing, yet this collection entirely hits the mark. I loved it.' Isabel Waidner, author of We Are Made of Diamond Stuff


Publication DetailsNotes


A novelist questions why she’s been shortlisted for the Prize of Prize’s Prize; an artist duo has a messy break up; a schoolgirl is saved from a predator by a flash flood and a gang of dead animals; a surgeon has an incurable identity crisis; a budding actor can’t see what’s so funny; a pregnant food writer gets a craving for luxury consumerism.
These thirteen stories by writer and literary translator Jen Calleja pick apart the hidden motivations behind our desires, and the ways we seek out distraction from difficult truths. They investigate histories, power dynamics, rituals, institutions – the roles we adopt, as well as the ones we inherit.
Known for her acclaimed poetry and translations, and as a performer in numerous bands, these facets manifest in an attention to the latent ambivalence of language, and the nature of storytelling itself. This writing is direct and considered – it asks to be read, read out loud, retold, refashioned into fables with a distinctive mouthfeel.
I’m Afraid that’s All We’ve Got Time For is a sharp, bold, inventive and prescient fictional debut from a versatile and brilliant writer.