Imogen Russell Williams, Guardian Review
Imogen Russell Williams, Guardian Review
Three best friends – Raven, Crayfish, and Horse – are all grown-up and ready to have their own families, but they also want to stay together.
What sort of house would suit a family that flies, a family that swims, and a family that runs in the meadow?
The Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren, translated by Susan Beard.
This is a new translation with new illustrations by Tony Ross.
Its chapter book presentation makes it an appealing gift for a newly independent reader aged 6-9.
The chapter titles themselves give a good indication of the story content and atmosphere:
All of us Noisy Village Children
Brothers Are Difficult
My Best Birthday Ever
More Fun On My Birthday
We Break Up For Summer
We Thin Out The Turnips And Get A Kitten
How Ollie Got His Dog
It’s Fun Habing Your Own Pet But A Granddad Is Also Good
ACHUKA makes a special point of highlighting and recommending books in translation, both for children and adults. Here is the longlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2014:
Sinan Antoon The Corpse Washer (Arabic; translated by the author) Yale University Press
Hassan Blasim The Iraqi Christ (Arabic; trans. Jonathan Wright) Comma Press
Julia Franck Back to Back (German; trans. Anthea Bell) Harvill Secker
Sayed Kashua Exposure (Hebrew; trans. Mitch Ginsberg) Chatto & Windus
Hiromi Kawakami Strange Weather in Tokyo (Japanese; trans. Allison Markin Powell) Portobello Books
Karl Ove Knausgaard A Man in Love (Norwegian; trans. Don Bartlett) Harvill Secker
Andrej Longo Ten (Italian; trans. Howard Curtis) Harvill Secker
Ma Jian The Dark Road (Chinese; trans. Flora Drew) Chatto & Windus
Andreï Makine Brief Loves that Live Forever (French; trans. Geoffrey Strachan) MacLehose Press
Javier Marías The Infatuations (Spanish; trans. Margaret Jull Costa) Hamish Hamilton
Hubert Mingarelli A Meal in Winter (French; trans. Sam Taylor) Portobello Books
Yoko Ogawa Revenge (Japanese; trans. Stephen Snyder) Harvill Secker
Audur Ava Ólafsdóttir Butterflies in November (Icelandic; trans. Brian FitzGibbon) Pushkin Press
Jón Kalman Stefánsson The Sorrow of Angels (Icelandic; trans. Philip Roughton) MacLehose Press
Birgit Vanderbeke The Mussel Feast (German; trans. Jamie Bulloch) Peirene Press
This year, the judges for the £10,000 award – divided equally between author and translator, and supported once more by Arts Council England, Booktrust and Champagne Taittinger – had a higher-than-ever mountain to climb: 126 books, a record entry, translated from 30 different languages. Joining me on the ascent are author, broadcaster and Independent columnist Natalie Haynes, ‘Best of Young British’ novelist Nadifa Mohamed, award-winning translator Shaun Whiteside, and artist, writer and academic Alev Adil.
Our long-list of 15 reveals a fictional eco-system of staggering diversity.
WHY WE TOOK THE CAR by Wolfgang Herrndorf
I am sitting here exhaling air in the way you do after reading a book that has blown you away, leaving a bereft ache in your heart. In the case of Why We Took The Car, a German YA novel originally published in 2010 under the title of Tschick (the name of the co-leading character), and now available from Andersen Press in a superb English translation by Tim Mohr, the sense of heartache is all the more awful for having discovered just now, via a quick search on the interent, that the book’s author, Wolfgang Herrndorf, shot himself last summer, after being diagnosed with a brain tumour a few years previously.
This is the only Young Adult book he wrote (his other work is for adults), but it should find a lasting place as one of the very best books in its genre.
Mike Klinkenberg, the narrator of the book, would like to be less boring. He’d like to have more friends. He’d like to be invited to parties. And he’d like Tatiana to take notice of him. His mother’s an alcoholic and after writing an all-too-honest essay about her, which his class find hilariously weird, he’s dubbed ‘Psycho’.
Things change when new boy Tschick joins the class. He’s Russian and an oddball – often turns up blind drunk, but doesn’t let anyone, including the teacher, push him around.
For Tatiana’s birthday (another party to which he is not invited) Mike creates an oversized drawing of Beyonce but seems unlikely ever to have the confidence to present it to her.
But when Tschick picks him up in a ‘borrowed’ Lada car, one of the first things they do is drive over to Tatiana’s house, where the party is in full swing, to present the drawing.
No sooner have they handed it over than they’re doing a 180 degree turn in the middle of the street and speeding away on a week long road adventure that will be the happiest time of their lives.
Everything that happens on the road has that raw authentic feel that you get from the best of European films (indeed, it is easy to visualise this book as a movie).
I’m not going to attempt to describe the experiences the two of them have, or the characters they meet along the way. Read the book for yourselves. Before going into English translation it already had more than one million sales in foreign editions. If any book is deserving of multi-million readership it is this.
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Found In Translation, part of the rolling programme of events known as the Children’s Book Show, a national tour bringing some of the best children’s authors from the UK and abroad to local theatre venues and giving teachers and school children the opportunity to hear world-class artists talk about their work, took place at Europe House in London on Friday 15th November 2013.
The event was made up of three separate discussions, running alongside one another. I had elected to attend Publishing Translation, a panel discussion between Sian Williams,
Nicolette Jones (children’s books editor at The Sunday Times), Fabio Geda (author of In The Sea There Are Crocodiles) – and his English translator Howard Curtis, whose translation won the 2013 Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation. The panel was also intended to include David Fickling the publisher of the book.
Poetry in Translation consisted of a discussion with some of the young winners of the Stephen Spender Trust Times Translation Prize (under 14 and 18 categories) and included readings by the young translators of their winning entries.
In the third discussion, Translation Workshop, Kevin Crossley-Holland talked about the challenges of ‘translating’ the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf into a children’s version.
Gillian Lathey of Roehampton University and co-founder of the Marsh Award gave a ten-minute introductory talk and then Sian Williams chaired the discussion, which was interspersed with extracts from the novel, read by a young actor Samuel John.
Nicolette Jones reminded the audience that only 3% of published children’s books come from another language, although she felt that increasingly reviewers are blind to whether a book is translated or not.
Fabio, who comes from Turin, told us that he had worked for several years as an educator working principally with troubled children. In 2007 he published his first novel about a young Romanian boy searching for his street-theatre father.
Before writing In The Sea There Are Crocodiles he had spend six months collaborating with an Afghan youth who had a particular way of talking about painful situations in his past. It was this young man’s voice that Geda sought to capture in his prize-winning book.
It was an interesting discussion and, in the publisher’s absence, the translator felt emboldened to question the way the book had been marketed to two different audiences with different jacket designs. He felt that the adult hardback jacket had made the book look more like a children’s novel than the actual children’s design. The new adult paperback jacket was much much better he thought.
There were some lively interventions from the floor. Why, it was wondered, are publishers not employing the scores of multi-lingual young people in their twenties desperate to find work if, as it seems, one of the impediments to considering foreign fiction is the inability to read it in the original language.
David Fickling, when he eventually arrived, disarmingly embarrassed about a confusion over the timing of the panel discussion, held an impromptu ‘event’ in the lobby where people from all three discussions had assembled for a tea & coffee break, during which he gave a commitment to publishing at least one book in translation each year. He fetched from his rucksack a picture book called Pig In A Muddle and confessed to being its translator. ‘And how did I translate it? I used a dictionary and the pictures!’ Like me he is ashamed that he has reached his sixties unable to converse in any tongue other than English. He spoke amusingly about how tentatively and shyly English he would be when approaching foreign stands at international book fairs. He hoped that a younger generation of editors would have greater confidence.
Direct link to individual photo gallery: http://photo.achuka.co.uk/translation
Have you read any good books in translation recently?
We’re always looking out for titles to recommend on our In Translation picks page…
Winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. “A wonderful novel. Wise and generous to a fault of all our human failings and frailties” (Lloyd Jones, author of Mister Pip).
David Almond welcomes a new publishing imprint by Pushkin books which will concentrate solely on international children’s fiction
Millions of children are missing out on the best books in the world because so few are translated into English, according to award-winning children’s author David Almond.
The Felling-born novelist, whose book Skellig won the Carnegie Medal in 1998 and was made into a film starring Tim Roth, said more needed to be done to bring international best-sellers to this country after figures showed translated fiction accounts for less than 3% of all books sold in the UK.
Almond, who lives in Northumberland, said: “Children need to read the best books by the best writers from all parts of the world. Of course they do.
“But the plain fact is that there is very little translated children’s fiction published in the UK, and our children are missing out.”
He said the launch of a new publishing imprint by Pushkin books which will concentrate solely on international children’s fiction was “a bold new venture”.