Translators Association launches #CelebrateYourTranslator campaign

16 September 2020

Our Translators Association (TA) will be highlighting authors and their translators in the run-up to International Translation Day on 30 September across social media – culminating in the opening of our 2020 Translation Prizes.

The campaign – #CelebrateYourTranslator – aims to highlight the important relationship between author and translator and the vital work translators do in providing greater access to books and literature and engaging more readers across the world. It follows the ongoing #NametheTranslator campaign, which calls for translators to receive fair and proper credit for their work.

From 23 September until 30 September, #CelebrateYourTranslator will showcase numerous authors and their translators, spotlighting the importance of translation and what writers have learnt through having their books translated – or being the ones to translate. As Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction winner Ali Smith says, “I don’t think a book properly exists in the world unless it’s been translated.”

How important is your relationship with your translator/author? What have you learnt through having your books translated or translating books? Share your story with us on social media from 23 September using the #CelebrateYourTranslator hashtag. Tweet us @soc_of_authors or share on Instagram @society_of_authors.

Ruth Martin, co-chair of the Translators Association, comments:

It might be a cliché to say that a translator will be your closest reader, but any author whose books have been translated knows that it's true. And often, the best translations happen when the author-translator relationship goes beyond clarifying the odd word or phrase to become a true creative partnership. We know authors value that relationship as much as we do, and that's why we want to highlight it this year for International Translation Day.

Malorie Blackman, author, screen writer and SoA Council member, shares her experiences:

Unless and until you work directly with a translator, it’s very easy to take their immense skills for granted. Having met Amélie Sarn, the French translator of my Noughts and Crosses series, I have seen first-hand the dedication, the sheer hard work and the expertise required to translate a story so that it still retains the original author’s voice but works for the market in question. Good translators, like good editors, are to be cherished.

Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat and Chair of the SoA Management Committee, writes:

A good translation can make a book fly, just as a bad one can sink it. As a linguist I've always been interested in the process of translation, and I try very hard to give my translators all the help I can. I have a long-standing relationship with my Italian translator, Laura Grandi: every time I have a new book out, we talk about the individual challenges of the book (unidentified narrator, obscure colloquialisms, invented words) and she sends me pages of questions and notes – which means the translator is engaged and alert to shades of meaning.

Laura has translated my books for over 20 years, and she also translates during media interviews for me when I go on tour in Italy. We have come to be very good friends, and she understands me very well. I think it shows; people are always telling me how much they love my Italian books, and I know that although the original story and structure may be mine, the Italian vocabulary; the music of the phrases; the light and shade of the language itself – those are all Laura's.

Christina MacSweeney, literary translator and 2016 Valle Inclán prize winner:

For me, the ideal author-translator relationship is based on mutual respect and a good sprinkling of humour. Working with Valeria Luiselli felt like a dream partnership; she gave me a great deal of creative freedom but always knew how to suggest that a passage needed a little more work. Our collaboration soon became friendship: perfect.

Ali Smith, author, playwright and journalist:

I don’t think a book properly exists in the world unless it’s been translated.

2020 Translation Prizes

International Translation Day will coincide with the opening of the SoA’s 2020 Translation Prizes – our annual celebration of literary translation and the most promising voices in translation.

The prizes opening for submissions on 30 September will be:

Other prizes also running this year are the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize (for translation from the Arabic), the Vondel Prize (for translation from the Dutch), the TA First Translation Prize (for translation from any language) and the Goethe-Insitut Award for New Translation (extract translated from German).

To find out more and to enter, visit our Translation Prizes.