Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Off to Frankfurt

I shall be away schmoozing doing business at the Frankfurt Book Fair until the weekend. Normal service will be resumed once I have recovered my wits.

I'm sure book fairs are overwhelming experiences for everyone involved - the publishing people, the mere mortals who shove their way along the aisles, the teenagers dressed up as Japanese porn stars manga characters, and so on. But for translators, I suspect, they are even more of a departure from everyday normality. That's because we spend most of our working hours alone. OK, writers do too, but if they're the lucky kind who end up going to book fairs, they probably hold readings and go on research outings and that kind of thing as well. Translators? Only extremely rarely, and only over the last couple of years since the profession has begun shouting about promoting itself.

So many of us turn into strange, unkempt beings with no antiquated social skills. Which is why we have had our own fenced-in area at the Frankfurt Book Fair - no one wanted to shock the general public by encouraging us to roam freely. As of last year, that area has been shared with the international literature folks. Which makes sense in a way - why artificially separate the literature from the translators? - but of course detracts from the time available for translators to bang our own drums present ourselves in public.

Nevertheless, last year showed that the Weltempfang is still the place to go if you want to see translators drinking coffee and bitching chatting furiously amongst themselves. Strangely, though, it seems to have been robbed of even its own web presence - the link above is to a page where you can download the programme of events as a PDF. Which is quite broad but still includes a few translators' centre classics such as the "Gläserne Übersetzer" - masochistic talented translators doing their job in public, abetted by crowds of wannabe colleagues, or indeed established translators who are so addicted they can't help joining in.

So I'm looking forward to a friendly fair, meeting plenty of unkempt colleagues and partying with publishing people. Shockingly, the Hotlist gala with the announcement of the best indie book will be co-hosted by Charlotte Roche. I have to go, obviously, but I might have to hold my fingers in front of my face out of sheer embarrassment that a group of independent publishers trying to call attention to the wonderful books they do would want this writer TV presenter (published by a major label) to award their prize.

In other news: I've discovered the crossed-out font button.

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