Enjoy this article?
Read more from:
I was born in Chile, but went to Brazil with my family when I was three years old. Because of my family, I have very strong ties to Chilean and Hispanic culture. In Brazil, I graduated in journalism (though never worked in that area), and after my graduation I moved to Germany for eight years, where I also got my Master’s degree. I’ve also lived in Spain and in France, but for several years now I’ve been back in Rio de Janerio.
Despite being born in Chile and having spent a considerable amount of my life outside of Brazil, I consider myself a Brazilian writer: that’s mainly because of my strong attachment to the Brazilian Portuguese language and its literature. All my books are in Portuguese, and Brazil is the place where I feel at home.
I always wanted to be a writer, ever since I was a child. But it took a long time of introspection and reading until I started to write seriously. I was 34 when I published my first novel, Toda Terça (Every Tuesday). So far, I’ve published a collection of short stories and three novels. The first three novels are about love: about the impossibility to love (Toda terça), the excess of love (Flores azuis / Blue flowers) and possible, or imaginary, relationships (Paisagem com dromedário / Landscape with Dromedary). But my books are not only about relationships – they also deal with the act of writing and reading. My fourth novel comes out this month.
The book is about a young woman who has separated from her lover. She is still in love with him and tries to win him back. She writes him a letter every day, for nine days. In these letters, she tries to seduce him, but also remembers the last days they spent together. The reader becomes aware that something terrible happened before they separated: something traumatic. But her ex-lover doesn’t receive these letters: he has moved to another apartment, and the person who actually receives the letters (and reads them) is Marcos, the new tenant. Marcos has also recently separated; he has a three-year-old daughter and a difficult relationship with his ex-wife. He reads the letters, and becomes obsessed with this woman he has never seen, and who he knows nothing about apart from what he reads in the letters.
For me it was an amazing experience. I am also a translator and I understand the difficulties concerning translation, especially when dealing with very different languages like Portuguese and English. I think the translator is first of all a reader: a very thorough and specialized reader. He does not only have to understand the text, but also recreate the story in another language, with different words. He has to simultaneously act as a reader and a writer. Reading Danny’s blog was also a fabulous opportunity to discover new aspects of my own book.
I think we work very similarly. I also finish a first draft and then begin to work on the details, fine-tuning until I feel that I’ve created an equivalent to the original text that works, and that is coherent in the new language.
I think it was the letters, because they are very poetic – sometimes almost like a stream of consciousness. Very different from the narrative from Marcos, which is more rational and direct. To translate a poetic text demands a much greater investment from the translator, as he really has to create his own text. In some ways it’s much more like translating poetry.
Yes, the story is about the inner life, desires, fears and obsessions of the characters. It is not important where it take place. My characters could be based in Rio de Janeiro, but also in other Western cities like Berlin or New York. I wanted to talk about some aspects of life that are not specific to a certain place, like love, loneliness, and madness. It’s a book about emotional disturbance, about daydreams, obsessions and nightmares.
At the moment I’m reading The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman and I’m re-reading Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges.
Read more from:
If you missed any part of International Translation Day 2017, then you can find recordings and some notes from many of the day's sessions here.
How translated works push the boundaries with language and form | The Impossible Fairy Tale by Han Yujoo | Translated by Janet Hong | Reviewed by Alex Duffy, English Literature Work Placement
Acclaimed poet, editor and translator, Stephen Watts, shares his views on the art and power of co-translation.