Books in Translation

“You don’t learn something for yourself by translating from another language …  Instead, you give yourself; you offer yourself over to something… If you’re lucky, you come back to report on the text and experience; you hope to find someone to share it with. In this, I’ve been lucky!” – Erín Moure on translating texts

Here’s a translation starter list of recent titles authored and translated by Canadian writers, poets, and illustrators.

De l’utilité de l’ennui : textes de balle translated by Daniel Grenier and William S. Messier (Les Éditions de Ta Mère)
This translation of The Utility of Boredom: Baseball Essays by Andrew Forbes (Invisible Publishing) earned itself a spot on the shortlist for the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Awards: French Titles. “Taking his cures from Susan Sarandon’s character in Bull Durham, who worships at ‘the Church of Baseball,’ secular humanist Forbes finds something close to religion in everything from Jose Bautista’s bat flip to the Billy Ripken error card.” – Quill & Quire

Kisimi Taimaippaktut Angirrarijarani / ᑭᓯᒥ ᑕᐃᒪᐃᑉᐸᒃᑐᑦ ᐊᖏᕐᕋᕆᔭᕋᓂ / Only in My Hometown, by Angnakuluk Friesen and Ippiksaut Friesen (Groundwood Books)
This picture book introduces young readers to life in the Canadian North, as well as the Inuit language and culture. Angnakuluk’s simple text, translated into Inuktitut and written out in syllabics and transliterated roman characters, is complemented by Ippiksaut’s warm paintings of their shared hometown. “Heartwarming and illuminating.” – Kirkus Reviews

Douce détresse translated by Daniel Grenier (Le Marchand de feuilles)
This translation of Sweet Affliction by Anna Leventhal (Invisible Publishing) takes risks that pay dividends in this smooth-reading, unabashedly Québécois translation that manages to be every bit as funny (and bittersweet) as the original. “I don’t feel like [Douce détresse is] my book. But I’m just as stressed, and nervous, about its reception as if it were mine. Maybe even more. Because when I translate, I feel like what I’m being asked to do is put my talent to work, for someone else. Sort of like a homage.” – Daniel Grenier

The Party Wall translated by Lazer Lederhendler (Biblioasis)
Shortlisted for the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize and winner of the Prix France-Québec, this translation of Le mur mitoyen (Éditions Alto) by Catherine Leroux shifts between and ties together stories about pairs joined in surprising ways. “Getting used to the style, the way [authors] structure a sentence and a paragraph, the images, the vocabulary — I wouldn’t call it painful, but I grumble a lot. … But once I become comfortable with it, it’s all discovery and pleasure and learning. You sense from the beginning that there’s an affinity, but you have to develop it. It’s like a good friendship.” – Lazer Lederhendler

Naptime! translated by Shelley Tanaka (Groundwood Books)
This translation of À La Sieste! (l’école des loisirs) by Iris de Moüy tells the story of grumpy animals on the savannah who don’t want to go to sleep. It came with an interesting challenge for the English publisher: the text needed to be hand-lettered! Read this blog post to learn more.

My Dinosaur translated by Erín Moure (Book*hug)
This translation of Mon dinosaure (Les Éditions La Peuplade) by François Turcot is a prolonged metaphor for the endurance of memory and a tribute to fathers. “François Turcot’s Mon dinosaure was a fierce companion to me during my own father’s terminal illness in August 2013 in Edmonton. I knew I had to translate the book; in every way, my translation is fuelled by my love for my Dad, and by my gratitude to François for loaning me his.” – Erín Moure

Suzanne translated by Rhonda Mullins (Coach House Books)
 La femme qui fuit (Marchand de feuilles) is a decorated biographical novel that was also a contender on Canada Reads. “When I began to write, I didn’t have the link I have now with my grandmother. It was not something I could have foreseen. What is beautiful — more than beautiful, magical — is that at the end I came to a place of forgiveness. I was able to reflect on what she gave me with her absence. It became clear to me that I would not be the same without this inheritance. And now I feel free.” – Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette

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