I had another trip down to the big city on Tuesday, this time for a discussion on children’s literture in translation held at the English Speaking Union in Mayfair. The panelists were Anthea Bell, Barry Cunningham and Danny Hahn of the BCLT, standing in for Sarah Ardizzone who was sadly unwell, and it was chaired by Wendy Cooling of Booktrust. The event also saw the anouncement of the shortlist for next year’s Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation and I will try and blog about the shortlisted books over the next few weeks. The judges noted that this was the first year that each book on the shortlist has been translated from a different langauage, so that is quite exciting.
The quotes of the day for me were from Danny who pointed out the particular extent to which children’s books in general involve second-guessing what someone else is going to like, given that they are written, translated, published and very often bought by adults. I think it was also Danny who quoted Richard Sieburth’s description of translation as “perhaps the purest form of writing”, which I like a lot. And I also liked his statement that “I love writing novels, I just write other people’s novels”.
While I picked up a few other useful titbits from the discussion, afternoon tea didn’t quite live up to its billing, or the building. Most of the fun to be had came, as usual, from hobnobbing with fellow translators afterwards. And a trip to the wonderfully well-stocked foreign fiction section of Foyles (thanks, Ruth!). It was as well I was pushed for time, or that could have proved