Oksana Zabuzhko opened the project "It is cool being a translator"

Glebov translation agency  announces the launch of new project: "It is cool being a translator". The main aim of the project: to show the role of the translator in society and to popularize the profession. Within the frames of this project our translation agency will publish the interviews with key figures from spheres of culture, art, business etc. These people will tell about their experience of work with translators, about the role, the translators played in their life and about the importance of learning foreign languages, as learning a foreign language means personal development. Moreover, our translation agency will publish interviews with translators and interpreters to show how difficult, responsible and laborious this profession is.

Oksana Zabuzh ko for "Public people" magazine, 2010. Glebov translation bureau, "It is cool being a translator"Oksana Zabuzhko was very kind to agree to open this project and shared her experience of work with translators, she also told us what she was thinking about this profession.

1. How do you choose a translator to work with this or that book?

Actually, "own" translators in every language are being prepared for years. As I use very difficult language (among western Ukrainists to "make (translation of) Zabuzhko" is considered to be a certain "certificate" of the highest professional qualification :)), so in all the agreements with foreign publishers my agent includes an obligatory clause "quality control of the translation". It means that the translator is hired by the publisher, but it should be agreed with us, and if in the process of work some problems arise, the publisher is obliged to hire additionally an editor etc. But on the market of foreign literature in translation it is a well known fact, that "for Zabuzhko" you should hire super profi (in cases when there is a lack of well-qualified Ukrainian translators  - e.g. in Sweden, Holland, Italy. - certain "translation tandems" were created attracting professionals from related Slavic languages:  Russian, Polish - they used the translations into these languages, and the Ukrainist was responsible for "matching the original"). There were cases when "tenders" were organised, and I myself "authorized" the text with the translator (in languages that I speak), until the person "got used" to my style, - there were different situations... Actually, that is a separate page of biography, that is not seen by the reader (and that is right - the public is interested in the end result, the text itself, and what was the kitchen, where the cake was made - that is the business of "cooks", and none else is interested in it).

2. Were there cases when translator saw the main heroes or the whole idea of your book in a different way, not like you?  Can you give any examples?

Actually there were some, but the task of the translator is, as much as it is possible, to bring via own words (and not to spill!))) the author's vision, that is why all the cooperation (when there is a need we have "workshops" - in skype, and there were situations when we met in real life) is mainly comes to the point, when translator wants to know "what the author meant by that". I remember that I was touched by confession of Katarzyna Kotyńska when she during her work with "Museum" she told that she "on the 5th chapter finally started to feel Daryna", because actually she, as it turned out, "does not like such type of women", and it was very difficult for her to find for Daryna the right "voice in Polish" (with Andrian, as she told, she did not have such problems, because "she knew one such a Byelorussian", and while making a translation she imagined him). From this very moment I did not worry about the future of my Polish translation - that was the approach of the translator of super class, and every translator can only dream about such a situation. A good translator should be an actor - he/she should be able to "be another person".

3. The translation of your books Field Work In Ukrainian Sex and The Museum of Abandoned Secrets into Russian, was it done by one translator or by different people?

It was done by one translator - Elena Marinicheva. She is brilliant, and I am glad that she is such a nice one in Russia. As Katazhyna Kotynska in Poland, and Rita Kindrelova in Czech, and Alexander Kratokhvil in Germany, that is a real ace in translation: "the higher league".

4. Now your books were published in English, who worked with these translations? Was it a native speaker or was it a person, who was Ukrainian native speaker? What were the reasons for your decision?

Now my books were published in prestigious project AmazonCrossing, but my first English book (poems) was published in 1996, and it is possible to say that from that moment we were looking for "our" translators (it is understood that the translation into English to any non-English author is No.1 priority, and here the main task was not to be in hurry, as if the text was translated unsuccessfully none will re-translate it again). Both "Amazon" translators are of Ukrainian origin (that is to say they feel the language and know the realities), but they are "native English speakers" - actually the best variant, because both of them are also gifted from the point of view of literature. Halyna Hryn started to work with Field Work In Ukrainian Sex in 2001, but unfortunately she is not a free lancer, and it is difficult for her to fit into the publishing deadlines.  I do not personally know Nina Shevchuk-Murray, we needed "adaptation"-"authorisation" period (I carefully read the first two chapters of the Museum, to show in practice "what actually the author wanted to say"), and then everything went smoothly - the result is brialliant (but people from Britain complain of too "American" language, but actually that was our conscious choice with the agent - we orient ourselves to the American, but not to the British variant of English, as it is more widely used).

5. From the point of view of writer, what is the role of translator for you? How do you think, how important is the contribution of the translator to the success of the writer in this or that country?

You know, once Bunin complained to Odoevtseva that people from France will never appreciate him, because how is it possible to translate into French the passage about "прелестный розовый закат" (beautiful rose dawn) in such a way that it does not look banal, but well, like in Russian – зримо (visible)? ("And what will be left from me after that?" – he asked sadly.) In case of writer called in English language writers, in German Sprachautoren etc., that is to say those, for whom language is one of the main descriptive means, the translator really determines the future of the book (I pretty understand that neither from Elinki in Russian, nor from Nootebon in Ukrainian I did not receive even half of the pleasure, that I should get from original, and when it comes to Prust I read it exclusively when it is translated into Polish by Boy Zhelenskiy!). We are totally, with our soul and with our body, depend on person with whom we will work, because most of the people reading the translated literature even do not think that they are reading not the author, but the translator: that “Rabinovich” from anecdote, who “Who sang then Chilintano by phone”. Translator is “invisible hero”: and his work is being paid for miserably comparing to the author, and he has no glory (just professional reputation), – and meanwhile in many cases he is working as "ghostwriter" (e.g. the whole syndicate of beautiful German women is rewriting Dashkova or Dontsova, - I beg you pardon, but it is difficult for me to differentiate among them, - to the condition of professional “best seller for house wives”, and people from Russia would be very surprised if someone had translated these works back for them!!!))). So, the translator is such a “grey cardinal” of the literary process: he is the person behind the scenes of text, but the role of the translator in text is not the secondary one...

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Zabuzhko Oksana Stefanivna was born in the family of philologists on the 19th of September, 1960 in Lutsk.
1982 – graduated from philosophic department in Kyiv University named after Taras Shevchenko.
1985 – finished postgraduate study on aesthetics at Kyiv University named after Taras Shevchenko.
From 1987 – Member of the USSR writers society.
1988 – work at the philology institute at the academy of sciences of Ukraine.
From 1989 – senior research worker at the Institute of philosophy of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
1992 – gave lectures on Ukrainian Studies at Penn State university as the invited writer
1994 – got the grant from Fulbright Fund and worked as teacher at Harvard and Pittsburg universities.
1996 – A book “Field Work in Ukrainian Sex” was issued in Ukraine, and “A Kingdom of Fallen Statues” was issued in Canade.
1997 – she was awarded with Global Commitment Foundation (The USA)
1998 – obtained the Rokfeller Fund grant
2009 – was awarded with Princess Olga order of the ІІІ stage

The photo was taken from www.zabuzhko.com

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