How Authors See Their Work Through a Translator's Eyes

On the fourth collaboration to the WHAT'S NEW section, I'm here to publish today an article written by Ronaldo Brito Roque on what it feels like for an author to read his own work translated into another language

Since I started writing for a living, I think one of the most remarkable experiences I've had was seeing one of my short stories translated into another language. I welcomed it with mixed feelings. 

You start to wonder about those sentences, which are so different from those you originally wrote, but at the same time they are supposedly yours. Then you start to recognize the inflection of characters, the sequence of events, the metaphors, the little twists and turns of style. All of a sudden, the story belongs to you once again, but in a new form.

You internalize the rhythm of the other language, you feel a little more familiar to it, you embrace it, but at the same time you can enjoy the differences and marvel at how the translator was able to find the right sentence for a regional expression that you thought would be untranslatable. It's like going on a trip to a city you've never been to before, where everything is new, then stumbling upon an old friend and spending some time reminiscing about the adventures from your youth.

I'm grateful to Rafa Lombardino for allowing me this experience, which is simply magical. Today, considering how easy it is to publish your work on the internet or other media, I see that everybody has become a writer. If this same phenomenon happens in translation, if suddenly the world goes through an inexplicable surge in translators, all stories will one day be translated―the ingenious and brilliant, the stupid and disgusting, even the neutral stories. 

Everybody will go through this experience of seeing their characters speaking another language and it will not longer be something magical. It will become something common-place, like going on a cruise or spending a holiday in Ibiza.


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RONALDO BRITO ROQUE was born in Cataguases, State of Minas Gerais, but has been living in Rio de Janeiro since 2003. He went to the Fluminense Federal University in Niterói, but didn't finish his degree. He used to work at Caixa Econômica Federal, a government-owned financial institution, but decided to quit his job to become a full-time translator and try his luck as a writer. He made his debut with Romance barato ("Cheap Romance") published by Multifoco in 2010. The first edition sold out in only six weeks. He also published Duplo sentido ("Double Meaning") and Meias palavras ("Half words") as an indie author through the Kindle Store. His short story Gravata was translated as "Necktie" for the Contemporary Brazilian Short Stories (CBSS) website. He's currently freelancing as a translator and writing his next novel.