Literatures, Languages & Cultures

Meet our Graduates: Cristina Sandu

Having graduated with an MSc in Comparative Literature in 2015, Cristina is now a prize-winning writer and translator.

Studying and working in Finland, France and the UK, and now based in Cologne, Cristina Sandu has certainly lived comparative literature outside the classroom.

Photo of Cristina Sandu
Cristina Sandu, MSc in Comparative and General Literature, 2015

She moved to Paris after High School to study French and Italian, did her bachelors degree at the University of Helsinki, and came to the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) in 2014 to take a masters degree in what was then called Comparative and General Literature (now simply Comparative Literature).

Cristina’s debut novel, The Whale Called Goliath (2017), was nominated for the Finlandia Prize, while her second, The Union of Synchronised Swimmers, won the Toisinkoinen Literary Prize and is her first book to be published in English (2021).

Currently working on her third novel, Cristina is also finishing the translation of Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You into Finnish, after which she’ll start working on the translation of Ilya Kaminsky’s Dancing in Odessa.

Learning to look critically

“This sounds simple”, says Cristina when asked about how her degree in Comparative Literature helped shape her future career, “but it was a big change for me”.

“At LLC I learned to properly discuss literature. Before that, even during my first degree, my relationship to books was quite a solitary one, just reading alone and writing essays. Whereas in Edinburgh it was all about small group discussions.”

“This taught me a lot about arguing but also questioning, looking critically both at fiction as well as literary theory and criticism. All this made me into a much more careful and independent reader.”

“I liked how international our group was: students from the US, Palestine, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Greece... This really enriched the discussions both in class and outside of it. Edinburgh was a beautiful city to live in, with so much history and character, and we travelled outside the city as a group as well, visiting places like Aberdeen, Dundee, Stirling, St Andrew’s, Glasgow and The Highlands.”

What most inspires me is great literature. One of my biggest pleasures is to find an excellent book, a new author, a voice I haven’t read before.

Cristina Sandu, MSc in Comparative and General Literature, 2015Prize-winning writer and translator

Are you interested in taking an MSc in Comparative Literature with us?

As the first UNESCO World City of Literature, and a major cultural hub, Edinburgh is the ideal place for the comparative study of literature. Bringing together an international community of learners, we live comparative literature in the classroom, where you’ll sharpen your critical, analytical and methodological skills, and explore a range of literary works from different linguistic and cultural systems. Applications for 2022 entry open in October 2021.

Find out more about this MSc on the University of Edinburgh Degree Finder