RARA-AVIS: Henning Mankell

From: Karin Montin ( kmontin@sympatico.ca)
Date: 16 Oct 2004

I attended a Bouchercon panel featuring Jose Latour, a Cuban who wrote Outcast in English and subsequently translated it into Spanish, and wrote Havana is Burning (I think that's the new one) in Spanish and translated it into English. English, of course, is his second language.

Anyway, a woman in the audience said something along the lines of, "Whenever I read a translation, I feel like there's something missing." The discussion that followed brought up some examples of bad translation and some examples of things that are difficult to translate.

When I later found myself sitting behind the same woman, I asked her what exactly she had meant. She said that she had been thinking especially of the books she'd read by Henning Mankell. She said she didn't feel she understood the culture he was writing about and that there was "something missing."

I thought that was interesting, because after reading three of his books (Sidetracked and The Fifth Woman, translated by Steven T. Murraym and Firewall, translated by Ebba Segerberg), I'd decided I wouldn't bother looking for any more. It's hard to describe, but I'd found his tone rather too flat. She and I seemed to be talking about the same thing, but she put it down to the translation and I to the writer.

Other people here have said they enjoyed Mankell, and I wonder what you thought about the writing style or tone. How does Mankell come across in Swedish? Is there something missing in the English?


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 16 Oct 2004 EDT