Translator’s Notes

On Translating a Translation

Published on November 20th of 2013 by Adam Z. Levy in Tongue Ties, Translator’s Notes.


Adam Z. Levy

For all the theories of translation one disavows or keeps tacked above the bed, there remain certain unscientific gut-level questions like: Have I gone too far? Have I gone far enough? During the year that I spent working on Hungarian writer Gábor Schein’s first novel, The Book of Mordechai, I approached my author often with such questions. We met on Friday evenings to drink fizzy lemonades at an outdoor café in the Budapest district where we both lived. If it is possible to condense a year’s worth of meetings in a single phrase, it might be most fitting to call them dry interrogations: I pointed to places, in my own text and in the original, and asked whether I had understood the implications of this word or that phrase. It is one of the privileges of … Read More »

Revealing the local

Published on May 5th of 2013 by Mara Faye Lethem, Javier Calvo and Addie Leak in Translator’s Notes.

translated by Addie Leak

The vicissitudes of literary endogamy can be highly enigmatic; in some cases, they can be equally wonderful. Javier Calvo, the most prolific and delightfully eccentric of Spain’s contemporary novelists, also happens to be the translator of David Foster Wallace, J. M. Coetzee, Michael Chabon, H.G. Wells, among others. Here he discusses the market for translations in English and in Spanish with fiction-writer and translator Mara Faye Lethem. A native New Yorker now living in Barcelona, Mara is Javier’s wife, the mother of his children, and his translator. She is also the sister of Jonathan Lethem, a writer introduced to Spanish-language readers by his brother-in-law, Javier. Following this conversation, we are pleased to present an excerpt from Javier’s latest novel, The Hanging Garden, awarded the Seix Barral Biblioteca Breve Prize, in Mara’s translation.

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