DWJ in Israeli newspaper

Gili Bar-Hillel gbhillel at netvision.net.il
Sat Feb 14 15:10:07 EST 2004

Melissa the always-right wrote: >>>My meta-response is actually that it's
cool to get both the article and the
insights of someone involved in that publishing scene.  I hadn't thought
about the dark side of getting to translate one's favorite fantasy
books--that someone else might get to do it instead.

It's a Catch 22. There's nothing I can do, as a translator, to guarantee
that a publishing house will hire me to translate a certain book. If I don't
promote the books I'd like to translate, they are liable to be looked over,
and never be translated at all. However, if I hype the book up enough, I
stand the risk that I will manage to convince the publishers to take the
book, but that I will not be party in any way to their publication. This
happened to me with Keter with several books that I had promoted quite
aggressively while I was still working there - and then they simply fired me
and let other people work on the books. I can't decide whether it is more
upsetting to see other people reap the credit for what I feel were my own
"finds", or to see that they are doing such a lousy job promoting the books
post-publication. I can't say how happy I am that DWJ's books will be
available in Hebrew - but it really hurts to have nothing to do with their
publication, and I can't say that I don't harbour any resentment for being
so blatantly shut out of the process. Enough said.

And then Melissa wrote: >>>So what was the letter to the editor that you
wrote in response?

The review was really quite a glowing review, my main motive for writing a
response was to get even more exposure for the book. The reviewer had
confused the titles of a couple of DWJ's books, I wrote a correction; he had
ended his review with a sentence expressing his hope that more of DWJ's
books would be translated into Hebrew, I wrote with the then-new information
that "The Lives of Christopher Chant" was indeed scheduled for publication.
Other than that he had of course compared "Charmed Life" to the Harry Potter
books, so I felt a need to stress again how creative and original "Charmed
Life" is, and that it's not only for people who liked Harry Potter - this
may be part of what sparked the interest of that journalist who later wrote
about DWJ.

And of course I had to have the last word in a little argument I had had
with this reviewer (we email occasionally) over the translation of the name
"Cat". He is of the opinion that the name "Cat" should have been simply
transliterated into Hebrew, his argument was that the Hebrew word for cat,
"khatul", is not used as a nickname in Hebrew and, that therefore the name
sticks out as clunky and unnatural. He mentioned Cat Stevens as an example
of an English-speaking person actually named cat. My personal view is that
it's fine that the name sticks out, that's exactly what gets the gears going
in your head when you read the book. Plus the little bit where Janet asks
Cat who he is, and when he says "I'm Cat" she responds "no you're not,
you're a little boy" just wouldn't have made sense if the name weren't
translated, whereas as it now stands that particular bit actually reads even
better in Hebrew than in English (because "I'm Cat" in Hebrew is
indistiguishable from "I am a cat"). Plus I actually got to ask Diana her
opinion in person at the pub-meet in September, so it was with infinite
smugness that I was able to quote her as saying, with great disdain: "Cat
isn't a nickname for men in English. Cat Stevens just made that up. AND he
isn't British!!!"

My husband is sitting in the living room waiting for me to finish writing
this email, and he is so miserable that it's wafting through the doorway in
great gusts. So I'm off to keep him company, sorry if there's anyone else
hoping for a response who won't get one this evening!

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