A Good Translator is Never Satisfied: What it’s Like to Work in Literary Translation

What would you like to know about the process of translating novels? We’re now wrapping up Series 1 of our Think in Translation podcast and blog. Thank you to all who’ve listened and participated in our debate on literary translation! At the start of this project we sent out a two-question survey in the hopes of getting a better sense of what it is about translation and translated books that most interests our readers and listeners. The following blog post is the first of two parts (we’ll do one post per question) in which Allan Cameron, Vagabond’s founder as well as a writer and translator himself, responds to the questions we received.

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Found in Translation, Lost in its Prizes: The Trouble with Translated Literature Awards

While in other countries literary translations are broadly published and read, the Anglo-American world seems stubborn in its preference for homegrown literature. Currently attempts are being made to boost the popularity of foreign works through the introduction of new literary awards. But to what extent can literary prizes really help foreign authors to get a firm footing in the English literary market? In this blog post we explore literary translation prizes from a variety of angles to analyse what works and what could use some improvement.

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Thinking in Translation: On the Perks and Pitfalls of Being Multilingual

The life of a non-native speaker has its perks and its challenges: how do you navigate your way through a language that isn’t your own? What pitfalls should you expect? Is there a way to fit in? In this week’s Think in Translation blog post, two logophiles with different backgrounds talk about their experiences as they’ve worked to find their way around the winds and bends of the linguistic maze. 

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Puid Metsa (Coals to Newcastle): Bringing Music and Literature Across Borders

The title of this blog post, Puid Metsa (literally “wood to the forest”, the equivalent of the English saying “coals to Newcastle”), refers to the theme song for Vagabond Voice’s Think in Translation podcast. In this blog post translator and musician Matthew Hyde discusses the inspiration behind this song title as well as his interesting career path.

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The Craft of Translation

Can a translation be beautiful? Is it even noticed? In this instalment of our Think in Translation blog series, Vagabond’s founder Allan Cameron, who has translated dozens of books, discusses his process for translating The Anonymous Novel from Italian into English. The Anonymous Novel has received much critical praise, including being called “a literary miracle” by Vitali Vitaliev. The Herald said Allan’s translation brilliantly conveys the sense “that some Russian Master had been leaning over [the author’s] shoulder, guiding his hand.”

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A Home for Translation and Translated Novels

We wish to explore everything from the process of translation itself to what it’s like for an author to read their work in translation, to what influences a bookseller to buy a particular translation and what translated books are most popular amongst readers right now. It’s a broad topic and I can’t predict where Think in Translation will take the discussion we hope it will spark, but I look forward to watching it unfold.Vagabond Voices' founder Allan Cameron introduces the Think in Translation project and explains why we believe it's necessary.  

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Remember the Translator

Vagabond Voices continues to celebrate translations and its translators. It is proper that translators are occasionally invisible (particularly when the reader is busy suspending disbelief), as their task is to present the authors and not themselves to the reader. But the actual words are not the authors’, but the translators’, and it is also proper that the reader recalls the presence of this intricate and generous craft.

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Why Do We Need Translated Literature?

Why should you read a translated novel, when there are so many good ones written in English? Surely a translation is never as good as the original? Who benefits most from translated literature? In this blog post Vagabond founder Allan Cameron explores these questions and also discusses the precarious position of small publishers of translated literary fiction.

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