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Srpko Leštaric was born on 29th April 1949 in Vrelo, a village in Valjevo County, Serbia. In 1966 he started his university studies at the Belgrade Faculty of Political Sciences, but three years later turned to the Arabic language and literature at the Faculty of Philology. In 1972 he became the first student of Japanese in the class of the late professor Dejan Razic, the founder of the Department of Japanese Studies in former Yugoslavia. At that time Leštaric co-signed the very first literary translations from Japanese to Serbo-Croat, poetry and prose, with Hiroyasu Honda, then Japanese student of Yugoslav literature in Belgrade.
Later on, having been prevented from continuing his studies in Japan, Leštaric reverted to Arabic, hitchhiked and walked through Europe, Syria and Lebanon, spent a year in Aleppo and then began a carrier of a technical and judicial translator and interpreter for Arabic, working for a decade and a half with major Yugoslav companies in different Arab countries.
Leštaric has so far translated from Arabic to Serbian more than twenty collections of modern short stories and novels by prominent Arab authors, five compilations of genuine Arab folk tales in the spoken dialects of the Arab East – more than any other Arabist (the sixth collection being in preparation) and Nefzawi’s classical work The Perfumed Garden. Each of these books is furnished with an extensive critical apparatus. His translations into Arabic of a number of short stories, mostly by Serbian authors, have been published in Arabic literary periodicals. The article he wrote at the request of the American Translators Association, titled “The Language and Translation of Arab Folktales”, was published in ATA Chronicle and became a part of the standard literature in the field of oriental studies at some universities.
Leštaric is still making his living as a documentary translator and interpreter for Arabic with a Serbian governmental agency, and working on Serbian translations of Arabic literature in his free time.