Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Harrogate - 50 Different Words For Murder

The first of two panels on the final day, the ones I'd been eagerly awaiting:

From the Programme:
With crime fiction from around the world as popular as ever, we ask four overseas authors what, if anything, is lost in translation. Writing originally in Swedish, Spanish and Afrikaans, Camilla Lackberg, Antonio Hill, Deon Meyer and Liza Marklund will tell Barry Forshaw just how much of their work is filtered or coloured by their translator. How much involvement do they have in the translations? And crucially…will we ever get tired of Scandinavian crime fiction?

My notes:
If LM is Godmother of Swedish crime fiction what does that make Maj Sjowall? LM's granny!

BF says that DM is the best crime writer in Afrikaans. DM said that it was a huge honour to be here, thank you Theaksons.

CL's latest book is The Drowning.

AH - poetic title (The Summer of Dead Toys) but kind of creepy, only book so no problem with being translated out of order, set in a very hot Barcelona.

CL is a celebrity for her private life eg being on the Swedish version of Strictly; her personal life was a gossip item 4 years ago complaining about media, got revenge by attacking reality tv in The Stonecutter/The Stranger.

BF asked LM - do we get right image of Scandinavia from her books? Scandinavians like to think were the best and that the problem with the rest of the world was that they are not Scandinavian. LM wanted to covered issues like abused women/children so wrote crime novels about these issues.

BF says Afrikaans has 87 years left. That's enough for DM! DM's English not as impeccable as his Afrikaans mother tongue, which is a beautiful and varied language.

BF: Translators so grateful to be included in Death in a Cold Climate. CL's books are shared between husband and wife team Steven T Murray and Tiina Nunnally. She's never got into how they do that! They are good at emailing her. She rarely hears from translators.

AH has been a translator so knows process.

LM works closely with (translator) Neil Smith, rework US edition quite a lot.

Translators object to editors changing US to British English (or vice-versa) as it's a whole way of thinking not just the language. DM: British people know more about South Africa than Americans as they only know America. DM's US editions have extra paragraphs or chapters to explain.

AH Read English translation (by Laura McGoughlin) and dialogue was very good, she got the rhythm.

CL & LM are huge in Germany, pictures everywhere. CL wearing angel wings! It's really easy to persuade her to get into angel wings! Been a ghost, dead floating body - crazy campaigns for her books.

LM read everything - raised close to Arctic circle (so not much to do) read Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, Maj Sjowall.

DM sees self as ambassador for SA and try to rectify misconceptions about SA. "Once a time you couldn't have a sympathetic white cop" changed after apartheid.

LM - you never find crime novels in dictatorships.

CL likes contrast between everyday life (everyday dramas) and dead bodies, hideous murders.

Legacy of Franco hangs heavy. AH not so young (he says0 lived under it for 9 years.

The panel hoped they were translated due to quality of book not ease with which name can be pronounced in English.

AH was asked to change his name in Germany as not Spanish enough - add an extra letter - but he refused.

Translators clean up LM in German editions. make Annika more polite. Usually you spend several hours for your author portrait - look nice and then German publisher says we need ugly pictures - want author to look like girl next door, roots showing. DM doesn't have this problem and wife think he looks like Brad Pitt anyway!

Annika is an incarnation of LM that makes every mistake but gets away with it. Women are human beings even if not treated like that. LM likes to be a bit Annika if pushed around. We should all be a bit Annika.

CL: didn't want Erica to be her but writes better about her when she writes about her own experiences. Over time Erica is 50% her. Patrik is based on her ex-husband who was a tax economist but she is now married to policeman.

AH's main character is a melancholic, normal guy unless he gets angry! He beats 1 man up but he deserved it and he is the big brother he would like to have.

BF asked DM which of your characters do you like best? He tries to make them different - question is like being asked to choose your favourite child!. He misses them, as characters become like  friends/family and worries about them and make stories up about what they're doing.

LM wrote about union leaders going to strip club as don't have many scandals in Sweden so have to treasure them.

The Ice Princess started with that image of woman in frozen bath. Got title and story built from that image.

AH had an image of girl in swimming pool surrounded by broken toys - made up whole story to explain this image.

DM - press us very free in SA. Took a while to get used to. Dangerous to write a crime novel trying to make a political point as you may lose readers.

LM writes political novels.

CL doesn't think highly of British press - glad that Swedish press isn't as curious. Tabloids are generally nicer than the UK ones.

DM - some of UK press is the best in the world, some is worst.

AH - journalist write scandals about each other in Spain.

BF asked about sex scenes...

LM tries to write them from a male pov.

CL can't make herself write sex scenes as picture of mum & mother-in-law in her head.

DM - Afrikaans of Cape Flats very specific way of speaking but cannot translate (very musical).

CL - get many questions on Scandinavian crime - analyse the success and why they're so good at it; why do people like reading about Scandinavian countries?

Assassinations (Palme & Lind) were a wake up call pulled them into rest of world. Sweden has problems like any other country, not all tall and blonde. A Kennedy moment when Olaf Palme killed. LM said Sweden was 50 years ahead in 1950s as weren't in wars.

Why are Latin countries not as popular. Climate? AH - show we can kill, don't need snow. Not a long tradition of crime fiction in Spain most papers won't review crime fiction.

Corruption endemic theme in all books. No worse in SA than UK, UK politicians "cook the books" (DM). CL said Swedish politicians aren't as colourful or don't hear about it. Now economic scandals as sexual scandals are not scandals any more!

Literary reviewers think CLs books are written in too everyday language and so put their success abroad down to really good translators. LM said Scandi books not better but have a spotlight on a whiter society and spots are darker;the contrast is bigger in Scandi society.

CL - people are curious about Sweden.

LM in Germany always gets question - why did you start with 4th book - only gets that in Germany!! (could be out of order translation or down to the fact that her first book The Bomber is a later one chronologically)

CL in Italy - got so many questions abut Patrik staying at home looking after baby. Convinced a large audience of women that it was a good idea.

DM - email feedback is about the books but when on tour is asked abut country.

AH get different questions about woman character, depending on country - too sexually liberated for some.

DM - 85% of crime is domestic and drug/alcohol related.

LZ - theme is power, in all novels, and stories around that.

DM - vast majority of crime is in disadvantaged communities.

Question from audience about British authors writing about their countries eg Spain (Quintin Jardine) and Alexander McCall Smith (Africa):

AH says why not, have a different view.

CL says "stay away!" (re Brit writers writing about Scandinavia)

DM says that AMS gets Botswana people exactly right, No crime fiction novel can be a panoramic view of all society. Thinks AMS absolutely brilliant and does it very very well.

Comment from German member of the audience post-war Germany very stable, crime fiction very pop since 50s. Patricia Highsmith not seen as crime writer in Germany or Spain.

Ruth Rendell often mentioned as being read by Scandinavians. CL a crime nerd since little. 80% of her reading is crime.

BF ended the session by saying the Germans are coming...

1 comment:

Maxine Clarke said...

What a great summary, thank you. I am very keen on all these authors (though Lackberg has recently gone more for domestic than crime, I think). It's great to hear their points of view on these issues. DM looking like Brad Pitt is a new one on me ;-)