Reading and Translating Nordic Literature and Nordic Noir to a Contemporary British Market
A rainy dark January evening in suburban London was an appropriate setting for discussion of Nordic literature and translation.
A panel discussion took place with UCL Scandinavian Studies PhD students Nicky Smalley, Anna Tebelius and Ellen Kythor led by senior lecturer in Scandinavian literature at UCL, Dr. Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen.
Each of the PhD students started by introducing the topic at the forefront of their minds in relation to the event’s title. For Ellen Kythor, this was the concept of Scandinavia as a “brand” as perceived by Brits, and how translators and publishers of popular novels may be creating and reinforcing the brand. Anna Tebelius discussed translation and art – her PhD project involves translating an experimental text from Swedish to English, and she has recently tried an artistic approach to translation using audio-recording equipment. Nicky Smalley’s PhD project tackles translating non-standard language (slang), and she also spoke about a non-fiction translation project she recently completed.
As the coffee flowed, the panel all offered their views on the role and visibility of the translator, the limitations and successes of subtitles in popular TV shows such as The Bridge, why they enjoy the process of translation and what might make someone decide to become a translator, the market for translated literature in the UK and Scandinavia, and theorised on why British readers seem to like Nordic literature. Questions from attendees included whether the panel found it different to translate from other Scandinavian languages than their “main” language – the panel agreed that the voice and style was often harder to pick up on, even though vocabulary and grammar do not prove a challenge – and whether the buzz around Nordic Noir had resulted in more books of other genres being translated and published.
All You Read is Love will be popping up in Unit 3 on Central Parade, Hoe Street, Walthamstow E17 4RT for three weeks from the 22nd January 2014, so be very quick if you want to pop in!
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