It's finally here! My first double-feature, so to speak, is now available for your reading pleasure. A few weeks ago, I joined BabelCube to check out this new platform that puts authors in direct contact with translators. And that's how I met Italian author Angelo Mitarotondo (aka A. J. Mitar), who wished to translate his novel Reservythia: le anime affini to both English and Portuguese.
I seized the opportunity to finally translate a book originally written in Italian, with the added bonus of having the experience of translating the same title to both my target languages. On top of that, I was going to try out a new way to work with self-published authors and their books. I just wasn't expecting the ultimate surprise of translating such an entertaining book, which touches so many subjects and goes beyond a sci-fi story―it's about human nature.
For a start, it's always great when I learn something new while translating a book, and I learned a lot about physics and biology, but Reservythia also made me salivate once I googled erbazzone―gotta try it one day.
However, translating a book isn't all about having a good time. As you discover new things through a creative story and start to feel comfortable following an author's footsteps and style, language brings you back to the reality of your job. And, despite the straightforward, contemplative, action-packed narrative, I naturally had a few translation decisions to make.
Without spoiling anything, all I can say is that protagonists Alex and Angelica find themselves in a very nice house in the middle of a deserted place. The house is divided into two areas (one for him and one for her) and both lead to the bedroom, which is the only space inside the house that they can actually physically share.
Angelica likes giving everything a nickname and she calls their respective areas "pink zone" (hers) and "man zone" (his), using these expression in English in the original Italian book. I thought about it and decided to keep these names the same in both the English and Portuguese versions. Of course something gets lost in English, since these two expressions aren't foreign at all, but in Portuguese the same touch will be kept.
The fact that the protagonists don't know where they are, except that it's a very nice place, makes them wonder if they were kidnapped and forced to star in some kind of reality show, with producers watching their every move on the other side of hidden cameras. So, another expression I had to really think about was the translation for Sorridete… siete su una candid camera.
I remember watching Candid Camera back in the 1990s, when it was hosted by actor Dom DeLuise, but I was a little worried whether a younger audience could relate to it. In the United States, the last original episode aired back in 2004... Should I change the name of the show? Should I over-explain it? Add a translator's note? How could I keep it as conversational as the original without interfering too much? Here's what I came up with: Gotcha! Smile for the camera! (Click here if you want to read the solution I came up with for Portuguese.)
There are a couple other expressions that allowed me to reflect on word choice and cultural differences, but I'll leave it for a future post. The main thing is that this book was right up my alley, not only as a translator, but as a reader as well. I love the mystery surrounding the location where Alex and Angelica are being kept, and the human and philosophical side of things that comes with all well-written, creative sci-fi stories.
I hope you enjoy reading Reservythia as much as I enjoyed translating it!
RAFA LOMBARDINO is a translator and journalist from Brazil who lives in California. She has been working as a translator since 1997 and, in 2011, started to join forces with self-published authors to translate their work into Portuguese and English. In addition to acting as content curator at eWordNews, she also runs Word Awareness, a small network of professional translators, and coordinates two projects to promote Brazilian literature worldwide: Contemporary Brazilian Short Stories (CBSS) and Cuentos Brasileños de la Actualidad (CBA).