How to Become a Literary Translator

Interesting piece on how to become a translator on Arabic Literature (in English) blog today. Obviously I don’t agree with all of what is being said & proposed, but much if not most is sound advice indeed. Opening paras below, the rest of the post can be read here:

 20* Questions: How Do I Become a Literary Translator?

Posted on July 23, 2012 by  | 1 Comment

Young writer — and prospective literary translator — Nada Adel Sobhi sent in 18 pointed questions about the ins and outs of literary translation, ranging from money issues to publishing philosophy. English-Arabic translator and publisher  Hala Salah Eldin Hussein (Albawtaka Review) and writer/publisher Hilary Plum (Interlink Publishing) did their best to answer Nada’s questions. Many thanks to them:

1. How does a translator pick what to translate (criteria)?
2. Who picks the publisher?
3. Does the translator pick the publisher or is it the publisher who picks the translator?

Hilary Plum: Either or both. Some projects come to us directly from a translator, or come via an agent or foreign publisher but are already associated with a translator. And some projects come from an author, foreign publisher, agent, or our own digging, and are not yet definitively matched with a translator (though there’s often some kind of sample translation around), in which case we match the project with a translator on our end. And occasionally it happens that a project comes in from a translator and we are interested in the project but not in that translation, in which case we might look to buy rights to the original work but look for another translator.

Hala Salah Eldin Hussein: One should not follow clear-cut rules, only the widest possible routes of creativity. Every book is a unique case, and there is a different reason for choosing it. A translator should let his/her imagination run away with him/her. But when it comes to literature, I generally like a story to tell me something about humanity, to share with me feelings identified by all human beings, raw feelings that have not witnessed sophistication. I’m interested in works that make the invisible seen, that give voice to the voiceless – works that impart message form through aesthetic experience.

(ctd. here)

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