Translators: Publishing’s unsung heroes at work

For John Cullen, his first few paragraphs are the most important and the most difficult. Just like the writers whose work he translates, he agonises over finding the right words. “I sit in my little office reading aloud to myself,” he says. “The first page has about 20 drafts. You have to see the spirit of the original author and to reproduce it. Particularly with a first-person narrative, it becomes very important to find the right voice. Once I hear that, or delude myself into thinking I have, I can go forward.”

Cullen translated into English from French the Algerian writer Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation, one of the African novels on the longlist of the FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices fiction award. His creative efforts illustrate a growing debate about the importance of translation and whether its practitioners deserve more recognition for bringing fiction from a broader range of cultures to a wider international readership.

Read more: Financial Times

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