Editing and Translating @ Link Wanderlust


Anna Pitoniak, an editor at Random House, talks about what editing taught her about the writing trade. So can an editor write? Pitoniak believes that it was her experience of reading good books and tweaking them that gave her the courage and the know-how to write a book of her own. She gives some great tips on what works when it comes to writing. Foremost is revision and then it’s flexibility. You’ve worked on multiple drafts and as an editor you would understand better when you were asked to work on a change that could alter the entire story. Check out What being an Editor Taught me about Writing for more useful tips.

What about a translator’s point of view when it comes to writing? Charse Yun examines Deborah Smith’s flawed yet remarkable translation of The Vegetarian. This book by Han Kang won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize last year and is a remarkable story indeed but in Korea there has been a wave of criticism about the authenticity of the translation. It is surprising how many errors have actually been cited grammatically and even in terms of meaning and style. However, Deborah Smith has nailed it with her literary interpretation and that seems to be what translation is all about- getting a piece of otherwise unknown literature out there and being faithful to what it represents:

In the end, everyone has a different metaphor for translation. For me, it’s cooking. You have a brilliant sous chef who attempts to recreate the original chef’s recipe abroad with ingredients not found in her country. She misreads the directions. She confuses “broil” for “boil”; she adds “lemon” instead of “melon.” She also pours in a generous dollop of dressing found nowhere in the recipe. But ultimately, she is able to come up with a remarkable version that millions of new diners find delicious. Several Michelin judges (in Han’s case, a five-member jury) happen to taste it and award it three stars.

The original chef is pleased and gives her approval (for the record, Han Kang has read the translation and fully supports Smith’s version). Both chefs gain much renown domestically and abroad. Interest in the home country’s cuisine soars globally. Everyone is invited to the feast.

Read You Say Melon, I Say Lemon and tell us if you have ever read a translation that is flawed but enjoyed it all the same.
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