Lost In Translation?


February 28, 2012 by markstani

With the 25-book longlist for this year’s Best Translated Book Award announced today, and the longlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize due on March 8, it is a rewarding time for translated fiction.
The BTBA award, inaugurated in 2007, and celebrating books translated into English and published in the US, is led by eight translations from French, but also includes those from Spanish, German, Portuguese, Polish, Swedish, Norwegian, Italian, Hungarian, Serbian and Hebrew.
The IFFP Prize will have a lot to live up to this year after an excellent longlist last year, including the eventual winner, Santiago Roncagliolo’s ‘Red April’, and the likes of ‘Kamchatka’ by Marcelo Figueros and Shuichi Yoshida’s ‘Villain’.
In the meantime, here’s a thought on translation from Russian expert Robert Chandler. It comes from the forward of his translation of ‘The Railway’ by Hamid Ismailov:

Many people hold oddly absolute views about translation. Some see translators as unsung heroes; others see them as inveterate traitors. Some believe that translators should concern themselves only with literal meaning; others believe that nothing matters very much except tone and readability. My own view is that translation is an art, and that no art can have absolute and universal rules. Every book, every stanza or paragraph, every phrase may have its unique requirements.


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