Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Quiet Please - Translation in Progress

It may be rather quiet around here for a while. That's because my friend Stefan Tobler (no, not the one who came second place as Mister Switzerland) and I are translating all fourteen entries for the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize. They say:

Without a doubt, the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize, alongside the Joseph Breitbach Prize and the Georg Büchner Prize, is the most important literary award in the German-speaking world.

I do love that. What they mean is that it's THE prize for emerging writers. This is a great gig, I have to say, especially as nobody's supposed to know yet who's in the running. So there's a little smile on my face as I translate because it's a secret - and because the texts are really astoundingly good so far.

The entries are currently being translated into seven different languages for your delectation, but they won't be on the website until the writers read them live in Klagenfurt. So from 24 to 26 June. At which point it'll be broadcast live on 3sat - but it's not good telly, unfortunately.

If you can't wait that long and are in Berlin, you could always head over to the Literaturwerkstatt in Prenzlauer Berg on 27 May, where there'll be a discussion on how incredibly important translation is in the context. And how incredibly fantastic translators are, and how incredibly hard they work and more of that kind of thing. Having asked lots of actual famous people along who presumably said no, the organisers turned to me. So I'll be up there fighting my nerves on the podium. Let's hope there's time for a stiff drink beforehand.


Kerstin Klein said...

I would really have a hard time not to tell anybody, but I guess it also feels special to know something which no one else knows.
How do they actually choose the translators for these books?

Translating text is an art too. I can´t imagine how hard it must be to translate a literary text well.

kjd said...

I'm struggling, K, with the whole not telling anybody thing.

But it does mean that this year I'll have a great take on the contest, knowing all the texts in depth beforehand.