Picking my Pocket: Reading round up Jan 26th – 30th

I was delighted that last week’s post was so well received; I got some lovely comments on Twitter, email and the blog itself so “Picking my Pocket” now has a weekly slot on the blog. This week I’ve been getting back on the literary translation wagon so most of my reading has related to that and has been really enjoyable. Last year I embarked on Lisa Carter‘s fantastic course, Next Steps in Literary Translation. I got a few weeks in and then had to put the course on the backburner as my son made his arrival, but Lisa kindly let me pick up where I left off with the course so I’ve been in full swing this last week.

Spotlight on Literary Translators


This isn’t so much a single article but a series of interviews with established literary translators. I love reading about other translators in general (probably because I’m ridiculously nosy) but I especially love reading about translators who are already working in a sector I admire. It’s one of my goals in 2015 to get my first proper book translation. At Silver Tongue we’ve handled a few literary translations as a group (a few textbooks in Polish, a novela from German and some short stories) and I’ve personally done some educational books, a poetry anthology and a series of detective short stories, but it’s an area I would love to enter into in a concentrated manner. The Spotlight series gives me hope that with hard work I can get there too! In general the Intralingo site is a fantastic resource for those in, or wanting to be in, the literary translator sector.

The Tricky Business of Translation 


I came across this fantastic piece during the week. It’s about literary translation, or more specifically, translation of academic literature. It’s by Sarah Campbell, Editorial Director at Rowman & Littlefield International and I found it incredibly encouraging. Sarah discusses how many authors and academics have research material which would greatly benefit not just the rest of the community in their own field of study, but also the business world at large, if only it were in English. For translators with a specialism from “another life”, whether that be time in industry or university studies, this is great news. Sarah mentions that the financial rewards for academic translation can be on the modest front, but does note that “on the plus side, there are a number of grants available to publishers (including those funded by several European governments) that are designed to support exactly this kind of publishing.” The post is most definitely geared towards academics wishing to have their work published in English, but the tips provided for achieving this are extremely useful for translators too – we’re just approaching from a different angle. A must read post!

What Makes a Good Literary Translator?


Id like to add a caveat at this point, not just for this item, but for all other items as well. The Pick my Pocket series won’t necessarily contain links to pieces which have been posted/published in the week I’m posting – I’ll just have happened upon it and wanted to share with you! Case in point, this interview with Daniel Hahn and Fahmida Riaz on the British Council Voices blog. The piece is full of insights into the world of translation in general, not just literary translation. One of my favourite quotes from Daniel in the piece is “translation is two things: it’s very close and careful and thoughtful reading. Then, it’s precise and careful and thoughtful writing.” I feel this is a fundamental point, one that Joseph Lambert sums up brilliantly in his blog post Key Translation Skills: Write Right. Having written this week’s blog post on whether the perfect translation really exists, much of what Fahmida said also spoke volumes to me; translating is so much more than rendering a word in one language to the equivalent word in another. A single word can convey centuries of cultural, linguistic and historical nuance and sometimes, there is simply no equivalent. One such example was the word “sharmana” in Fahmida’s native Urdu (of which I do not speak a word) – I was fascinated by the subtlety and specificity of its meaning and truly in awe of those who manage to communicate that in all its understated glory.

And there we have it – what I’ve been reading this week. I hope you enjoyed my short summaries of them, and that you check out the full versions (they’re much better). As ever, I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments!

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