Thursday, May 21, 2009


The first Crime Fest panel I attended was the multi award winning translators panel comprising Tiina Nunnally [aka Felicity David], Steven Murray [aka Reg Keeland], Ros Schwartz, and Don Bartlett.
The moderator was the author of the Shetland Quartet Ann Cleeves, who once again brought out the best in her charges with some excellent questions.

The high quality discussion ranged from what books they would avoid translating, for instance those dealing with crimes against children, to whether they read the book  right through in the original language before translating. 
Tiina who started the Scandinavian crime fiction popularity ball rolling with her translation of Peter Hoeg's Smilla's Sense of Snow admitted to being puzzled by the ending.
Ros was concerned about the poor pay and conditions for some translators In Europe who were forced to work very fast to provide a living wage. 
Steven mentioned that he had translated all three of Stieg Larsson's Millenium trilogy in less than a year, and that he would really like to work on number four!
Don spoke about how he loved Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole and kept a file with all his details so that no mistakes crept in to the translations. This was essential because of the out of order publication of much Scandinavian crime fiction especially the Hole books. There the publishers had thought that The Devil's Star would be a really big entry novel into the English speaking market for Jo Nesbo, but ignored the fact that they were ruining a major sub plot by publishing the books in the order 5,3,4.

All the translators regarded their primary loyalty to the authors and themselves as musicians, interpreting the composer's work.
The panel are all meticulous practitioners of their craft and we are very lucky that they have given us the chance to experience all those superb Scandinavian and French authors. 
This was an informative and educational panel that was a real treat for the readers of translated crime fiction. Well done to Adrian and Myles for arranging it and hopefully we will have something as good for next year.

Don Bartlett was kind enough to sign an extra paperback copy of The Devil's Star for me  and inscribe it with a sentence that I did not read till later.  
[to be continued]


Blogger Dorte H said...

Even though I have heard many accounts of CrimeFest now, it is still enjoyable to read all your very different angles and your personal experiences.

And what a cliffhanger! You´ll have to tell us what Don Bartlett wrote tomorrow :O

7:58 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

"Very different angle"s Dorte, because if you stand near Don Bartlett you are likely to be knocked sideways by a stampede of women.;o)
He is a very nice and very modest man.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Dorte H said...

So you were lying flat on the floor? :D

10:31 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Dorte, I am teasing certain ladies who were very taken with Don Bartlett. They were however far too well mannered to shove an old man aside. :o)

10:48 AM  
Blogger Notes from a Virtual Easel said...

This is fascinting! (and the comments are entertaining, too!)

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How kind of you to make the "well mannered" comment, Norman, as it was indeed extremely difficult.
Lovely post, you have encapsulated the session very well, and it is lovely to be able to relive it in this way on your blog.
I hope you will be revealing Mr Bartlett's inscription in due course!

1:57 PM  

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