At the SELTA meeting in London last month, the Swedish writer Håkan Nesser gave a guest talk. Mr. Nesser is best known for his crime novels (he mentioned that “life is reflected in death,” which is one reason why he writes such works), but he has also written literary fiction as well.
He was very entertaining and, as befits the setting, he spoke in part about translation. Mr. Nesser’s works have been translated to many languages and he said he’s received questions or comments from about half his translators. He said that he once offered some comments on an English translation and got the following response, “Håkan, I thought you knew English!” After that, he’s avoided critiquing translations. The way he thinks about the translated target texts is that they are “written by the translators with [his] books as the basis.”
Forms of address
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