Saturday 18 May arrived and in nervous anticipation I approached the station. Already that morning I had one notification – unable to attend, I feared the worst but as I approached the meeting point all my fears were dismissed the rest of the group were waiting - phew!
We boarded the train drinks and snacks in hand; the journey time flew catching up and chatting about the books, the opportunity to get involved and what the day had in store.
Travelling as a group reminded us of long ago school trips and added to the excitement.
We checked in got our badges had coffee and pastries and the day was off to flying start. A packed agenda was underway meeting the authors and translators of the Independent foreign fiction shortlist either in person or via video link. Really interesting look behind the scenes of how much work is involved in translation.
Lunch was followed by focus groups where we met other reading groups discussed what we thought of the titles read and had a chance to share how the groups had enjoyed been part of shadowing the event and gathering ideas for other ways we could promote “Translated Fiction”
Good to hear what other people thought of choice of books, getting involved in shadowing and the different things each and every one of us interprets and takes with us from a book, a very individualistic thing. It also seems that each translator put their own individual perspective on the work been translated. Two pieces of text translated by two different translators resulted in remarkably different styles and personal perception, showing how important it is to acknowledge their role. We had chance to Vote for the winner and even more coffee/tea and cakes
Next was an opportunity to find out more about what else happens at the Free Word Centre meeting and finding out more about the work of the Reading Agency, BCLT, Booktrust and English Pen an organisation that promotes “The Freedom to Write Freedom to Read” working to secure the release from imprisonment or persecution of writers across the world. They also provide grants to help translating costs and money to help promote translated works
Word of the day - “Biblio-Diversity” - a shared culture
Ways to promote Translated Foreign Fiction include
*Tell publisher - drop small independent publishers an email, let them know we like it encourages them to publish more of the same
*Word of mouth
*Reader Power share what we liked with others
The overall feeling of the group was the day was hugely successful, the opportunity to meet and chat to both authors and translators was a rarity, it was informative and eye opening learning of the work carried out by English Pen, to think writers are imprisoned or persecuted merely for the written word is horrifying in 2013 how oppressive and suffocating can some countries be? What are they afraid of losing? Or maybe it is more a case of what people may be gaining as a result of having this freedom. This shows the importance of reading and the impact it can have on our lives.
The Winner was announced 20 May and it was one of the titles we had read and reviewed; The Detour by Gerrband Bakker, translated from Dutch by David Colmer
Let’s hope our praise for the title added credit to its well deserved Winning Place!
The group are tentatively awaiting their next opportunity to get involved………..