Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Julia Franck and her Translators

Just a quickie, ripped off from the German Book Prize Longlist brochure:

Holger Heimann: Your book (Die Mittagsfrau - last year's prizewinner) is currently being translated into 28 languages, with ongoing negotiations for more licences. What's it like to know that people are reading you in Brazil, China and Japan?

Julia Franck: It's a good feeling. And it's very special that the book is valued enough for someone to spend weeks and months with it. I recently had the pleasure of working with 18 of the translators for a whole week in Straelen, ironing out translation difficulties. It was the most serious and intensive look that I've ever taken at my book and my native language. Working with the translators is the most valuable and the most productive experience for a writer because you are so rarely asked such precise questions on the German language, the associative space of a word, the meaning of a certain syntax. Just imagine, when we presented our work in person at a public event at the end of the week and the French translator checked up, ah, so this phrase cites a certain song almost beyond recognition? What song is it exactly? Zwischen Berg und Tal, tiefem Tal, saßen einst zwei Hasen... - and the audience of over 100 grown men and women, spontaneously enthusiastic and fevered up by our presentation, launched into song. Every translator knew after that how strongly this old folk song is embedded in our collective memory, its tune and its content.

HH: Who would you most like to win?

JF: I'm most looking forward to Uwe Timm and Norbert Gstrein's books. I'd certainly wish those two the prize.


Anonymous said...

Well, of course "it's a good feeling" that her book is being translated into 28 languages - she's made a truckload of money from the translation deals. Plus, the book will no doubt be improved on, especially in terms of language - the German original is so poorly written (chock-full of blatant howlers and mistakes) that it can only get better in translation.

kjd said...

Is it? I must admit I was so instantly captivated by the plot, atmosphere and techniques that I didn't notice.

Lenore Appelhans said...

I picked this up at last year's frankfurt book fair but haven't read it yet.

I landed on your site by bloghopping. You can follow my progress on my latest post on my blog.

I translate advertising from German into English and have my first lit job coming up too!

kjd said...

Hey! I hope you get round to reading it.

Anonymous said...

Honestly: Did you read the book and did you treat yourself with a twenty hour so confessed poorly reading? What envy and deep prejudices you must suffer? I'm not sure about the income part, but having read the book in our reading circle we've also discussed one reviews accusation, the book would be chockfull of mistakes - like you suppose. All together we've found two printing mistakes and two like blatant howlers. Is that a lot in a book of 430 pages - we certainly enjoyed a wonderful poetic novel, good research and intensive characters.