Monday, 16 June 2008

Doris Kilias

Friday's Berliner Zeitung contains a very moving obituary for the Arabic-German translator Doris Kilias, written by her daughter, the writer Jenny Erpenbeck. It closes:

While she sat in her very quiet Berlin room, she lived in the alleys of Old Cairo, lived in Bedouin tents, in Algiers or Riyadh - lived in her books. And it annoyed her again and again when reviews praised the language of the authors she translated without naming her: Do they think he writes in German?! As a translator, she led a shadowy existence. She slipped into the writer's thoughts, took a step back behind the author's name, and yet she gave her passion, her experience of life, her own personal language for that of the other. If someone asked her what was the best thing about translating, she would answer: being someone else for a while.

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