The Week in Translation

what: An Evening with Amanda Michalopoulou and Karen Emmerich when: Friday, April 18, 6pm-7pm where: The Book Club of California, 312 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94108 more info: http://ow.ly/vvLx6 what: "Spring into Poetry" when: April 16-29 where: various locations in NYC more…...read more »
Image of The Women in Translation: Right Here

The Women in Translation: Right Here

The Literary Translation Centre at the London Book Fair was packed Tuesday for Where Are the Women in Translation? Readers will recognize the title from Alison Anderson's May 2013 piece about the gender disparity in translated literature. Alison found a huge majority of books published…...read more »

Poetry at the Periphery: the Slam Poetry Scene in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil

On Sunday, March 23, I attended a sarau, somewhere between a salon and a poetry slam, hosted by Sarau da Onça and Grupo Ágape in Sussuarana. Sussuarana is a “peripheral neighborhood” (the literal translation of the Brazilian euphemism for ghetto) of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil’s…...read more »
Image of The City and the Writer: In Reykjavik with Mazen Maarouf

The City and the Writer: In Reykjavik with Mazen Maarouf

Special Series / Iceland 2014 If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains. —Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities Can you describe the mood of Reykjavik as you…...read more »

The Week in Translation

what: Book Party Virginia Zaharieva (Nine Rabbits, trans. Angela Rodel) and Albena Stambolova (Everything Happens as It Does, trans. Olga Nikolova) celebrate the launch of their US Book tour.  when: Tuesday, April 8, 7pm where: 192 Books,192 Tenth Avenue, New York, NY 10011 more info: http://ow.ly/vvH0y…...read more »
Image of Where the Sidewalk Bends: Interview with Pacha Urbano

Where the Sidewalk Bends: Interview with Pacha Urbano

Brazilian writer, illustrator, and screenwriter Pacha Urbano describes his brain as “an ideas factory that never stops.” His genre-defying projects include the aphoristic book Livro Ao Acaso (Book of Serendipity), the comic strip Filho do Freud (Freud’s Son), a compilation of that series…...read more »
Image of New in Spanish: Germán Sierra’s “Standards”

New in Spanish: Germán Sierra’s “Standards”

When Pálido Fuego, the publisher that has worked to bring such voices as Mark Leyner and Lars Iyers to audiences in Spain, decided to publish its first book from within that country’s borders, Germán Sierra’s fourth novel Standards was a fitting choice. Sierra is a representative…...read more »

From the Translators: On “Regeneration”

In “Regeneration,” it’s said that Juan, the chief protagonist, “feared the loneliness of his apartment more than he did the tedium of the bar.” Like most writers, we translators revel in the loneliness of our apartments: we choose to work alone, in a darkened room, with…...read more »

The Week in Translation

GO what:French Literature in the Making: Patrick Deville when: Monday, March 31, 7pm where: Maison Française of NYU more info: http://ow.ly/upTev what: "Spring into Poetry" when: April 16-29 where: various locations in NYC more info: http://ow.ly/vdLpu what: 45th Poetry International…...read more »

A night of writing in translation from Dalkey Archive Press

Translators were at the foreground at last night’s celebration of Dalkey Archive Press at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute in New York. Organized by the Americas Society, the event brought together four of Dalkey’s brilliant writers and translators: Alejandro Branger, Eduardo Lago, Rowan…...read more »

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Literary Translation Centre: The Makers of World Literature at the London Book Fair

Image of Literary Translation Centre: The Makers of World Literature at the London Book Fair

With a full program of seminars over three days, each packed with dozens of extremely enthusiastic translators, to say that the buzz was palpable at Literary Translation Centre would be an understatement. From what I hear, this has been the biggest space allocated to the LTC yet, which has been growing steadily over the past five years. Sponsored by AmazonCrossing, funded by Arts Council England and the Foyle Foundation, and with partners such as the BCLT, English PEN, British Council, Free Word, Translators Association, Literature Across Fronteirs, Wales Literature Exchange, and Words Without Borders, the LTC provides a hub for translators. It is almost a mini-fair in itself, taking center stage in the making of world literature at the London Book Fair, which is second only to Frankfurt as a mecca for publishers, international rights sales, and current trends in the industry. Within this context, the LTC gives translators a tremendous boost; it offers fresh ideas to discuss, and an invaluable opportunity to meet and chat with other translators, as well as with publishers, agents, and editors, at the very handy area with tables and chairs provided for people to mingle. With Korea as this year’s LBF Market Focus, we learned that Korean literature is surprisingly underrepresented in the UK publishing world in comparison to other East Asian literature. This only reinforced the importance of passionate translators who will bridge world literatures together and act as champions of their favorite authors and books.

The seminars covered everything from Back to Basics Q&As on how to get started in literary translation, panels on various topics with publishers and agents, translators discussing different aspects of their process, ideas for facilitating translation workshops in schools, a Korean translation slam, and a presentation on the short list for the 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.

With plenty of publishers taking part in the discussions, it was useful to hear their perspective about the risks and joys involved in publishing translations, and the ways in which translated works have found their way into print—be it through brown paper envelope submissions, readers’ groups, or a recommendation from an agent. One of the main ideas that I took away from these discussions was Rebecca Carter’s “no shoulds” dictum—that is, when trying to get an author into print, saying that this is a really important author that everybody should read, isn’t really what will make a publisher pick it up. Rather, the emphasis needs to be on how and why this author will appeal to a UK audience.

Another fascinating aspect of the seminars was hearing about the translation process from established translators: what it’s like to translate the living, the dead, and the extremely hurried—that is, books that need to be translated within a very short turn-around, thus requiring a collaborative effort between two or more translators. In the seminar about translating living authors, translators discussed how it can help to have a cup of coffee with the author and really get into a trusting relationship whereby the translator feels they have the freedom to do their best to bring the text into the target language, even if this means making unexpected changes to what doesn’t work. But when it comes to translating the classics, is this a liberating experience or is it the complete opposite? In the seminar on this topic, I was particularly fascinated to hear about Oliver Ready’s new translation of Crime and Punishment and his way of approaching the text, really honoring Dostoyevsky as a master of language, seeing the translator as a detective seeking the clues for how to translate in the text itself, and aiming for energy and vitality at all costs.

In terms of translating texts that need to be delivered in a very short amount of time, co-translation can be a great advantage, though of course, never hazard-free. For something like this to work, it’s extremely important that the translators know each other well and feel confident that they will be able to have the kinds of conversations that need to be had when you are going to be, as Daniel Hahn put it, “living together in the same book for three months.”

Being at the LBF gives a wonderful insight into the world of publishing in general, but spending time at the Literary Translation Centre in this context really gives a sense of how, to paraphrase José Saramago, it is translators who create world literature.


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