David McDuff was born in 1945, and attended the University of Edinburgh, where he studied Russian and German. After living for some time in the Soviet Union, Denmark, Iceland, and the United States, he eventually settled in the UK, where he worked for several years as a co-editor and reviewer on the literary magazine Stand. He then moved to London, where he began his career as a literary translator.
McDuff's translations include both poetry and prose, including poems by Joseph Brodsky and Tomas Venclova, and novels including Karin Boye's Kallocain and Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, and The Idiot (all four in Penguin Classics). He has published several translations with Bloodaxe, including books by Irina Ratushinskaya and Marina Tsvetaeva (from the Russian), Pia Tafdrup (Danish), Karin Boye and Edith Södergran (Swedish), and Gösta Ågren, Tua Forsström and Mirjam Tuominen (Finland Swedish), as well as the anthology Ice Around Our Lips: Finland-Swedish Poetry (1989). His translation of the Finnish-language author Tuomas Kyrö’s 2011 novel The Beggar and the Hare was published by Short Books in 2015.
His literary awards include the 1994 TLS/George Bernard Shaw Translation Prize for his translation of Gösta Ågren's poems, A Valley in the Midst of Violence, published by Bloodaxe, and the 2006 Stora Pris of the Finland-Swedish Writers' Association (Finlands svenska författareförening), Helsinki. He was honoured with the Finnish State Award for Foreign Translators in 2013, and the Swedish Academy's Interpretation Prize 2021.
From 2007 to 2010, he worked as an editor and translator with Prague Watchdog, the Prague-based NGO which monitored and discussed human rights abuses in Chechnya and the North Caucasus.
Books by David McDuff