Sometimes you find a book that you really need to buy. I remember taking this one and checking it, and putting it back in the bookstore’s shelf only to take it again, check once more, doubt, decide not to buy it, hesitate again and finally move towards the register very fast so that I can’t change my mind. How glad I am that I did buy the book. Wat zou jij doen? (in its Polish version, I co teraz?) has been a pleasure to read and translate, and now it’s standing in my personal library where I can check it any time I want.
The second book that I have translated is also a trascendental one. I am moved by books with emotions, books that talk to me and make me think about them after I have finished them. This one is a powerful book – its name: Wat zou jij doen? (roughly translated:”What would you do?”) by Guido van Genechten.
Ever since I have memory, I have loved books. I can’t remember which was the first book I read, or which was my favourite book when I was 6. But I do remember libraries. Like the one in my Primary school. It was colourful and warm and full of books. I remember spending many afternoons in the library of the village where I grew up. I am pretty sure I ended up reading all the books from the children’s section.
“You’ll never know exactly what a translator has done. He reads with maniacal attention to nuance and cultural implication, conscious of all the books that stand behind this one; then he sets out to rewrite this impossibly complex thing in his own language, re-elaborating everything, changing everything in order that it remain the same, or as close as possible to his experience of the original. In every sentence the most loyal respect must combine with the most resourceful inventiveness. Imagine shifting the Tower of Pisa into downtown Manhattan and convincing everyone it’s in the right place; that’s the scale of the task.”
One of the most interesting things about translating children’s books is the translation of cultural references, as in words and expressions that are characteristic of the culture of origin. These references can be about food, places, names, holidays/festivities, etc.
In this post I will comment on the translation of the title of book Kenta och barbisarna by Pija Lindenbaum. If you haven’t read my review of the book you can find it here.
Notes on the translation:
This book has not a particular focus on the Swedish culture. It could actually be set in many other different countries as it depicts the normal day of a boy in a kindergarten. There are however a few interesting things that translators love to encounter because it deals with creativity and originality.
And so the project begins!
My first translation for this project is a Swedish book.
I found it one day when I was checking my local bookstore. I don’t know what caught my attention first, maybe the cover, maybe the title. I opened it and absolutely adored the illustrations and the theme. Then, when I was back at home and had the chance to read it, I was glad that I chose it for I found an awesome book with a beautiful story.
Once upon a time there was a blog created to discuss children’s literature and its translation around the world.
I am glad to introduce you to a community of book lovers from every corner of the world. Whether you are a reader, writer, illustrator, translator or simply an aficionado, this is the place to talk about everything connected with children’s books.
This blog is also hosting the project #translatingtheworld, a challenge that aims at translating a children’s book from every country in the world.