What’s it like to have my books translated? That’s what Diana Jenkins of the Australian writers’ community Varuna wanted to know.
DJ: I’m interested in both intellectual and emotional layers; how much pleasure and/or anxiety is involved in allowing someone else to reshape your words?
MG: I don’t get anxious about having my books translated. This is largely because I’ve worked with a foreign rights specialist at my literary agency for 15 years. She’s an expert. She is thoroughly knowledgeable about publishers worldwide, especially those in Europe, Latin America and Asia that have bought my work for translation. She has worked her entire career with editors and agents in those markets, so I trust her judgment about accepting an offer from a house that publishes in a language other than English.
I do get curious about how the book is going to sound in other languages. But I especially get curious about how the book is going to look. The cover art for foreign language editions varies wildly by country. My Japanese editions have a cool, dark, techno-urban look that I absolutely love. The French editions of the same books are sleek, minimalist and mysterious.
The most jarringly different covers were for my novel Mission Canyon. The Czech edition featured two cyclists calmly pedaling along a bike path, smiling, wearing bike helmets. The Russian edition featured a hot-eyed woman with a sexy pout and windblown hair, beside a muscle car (with a Mad Max air intake and racing stripes) going airborne over the top of a hill. Neither of which were really in the book. It may be my favourite cover of all time.
DJ: I can see why. That sounds hysterical.
Read the rest: Lost in Translation.