Born in Rimavska Sobota (Slovacia). Studied Slavonic and Romance languages and literatures in Zurich, Paris and Sankt Petersburg.
Since 1971 assistant and lecturer at the Slavonic Seminar and at the Institute for the Study of Languages at the University of Zurich.
Work as a free-lance writer (publishing with Suhrkamp), translator and journalist (Neue Züricher Zeitung, Die Zeit). Numerous awards for her translations from Russian, Serbo-Croatian and French.
Ilma Rakusa lives in Zurich.