It would seem that I’m badly in need of a new word.
We all know that Schadenfreude is the act of rejoicing in other people’s miseries, but how to describe that feeling we get when we discover a great new book in translation? Damn! We think. I wish I’d pitched that to a publisher. But then sometimes we realize that the person who got to translate it did such a great job, you’d have a hard time imagining the text in anyone else’s hands.
This happens rarely, but when the feeling strikes it is powerful. It happened me with Sheila Fischman’s translation of On the Proper Use of Stars. So beautifully translated it was impossible for me to imagine the novel being written in any language other than English. And now, much more recently, with 8:17 PM, RUE DARLING.
Translator John Gilmore has done an exquisite job. Our narrator is a little “rough around the edges” (mal dégrossi), his ex-wife is still “sharp as a tack” (elle a l’esprit agile), and perhaps most successfully, here and there some of the dialogue is kept in French (“I’d like to see her, s’il vous plaît,” “Je ne sais pas. I’m trying to understand.”) to ensure our Montréal noir is delivered with the French accent of the original.
So what’s the opposite of Schadenfreude then? Rejoicing in a nice job by a fellow translator. Well done, sir!
You can read more of John Gilmore’s translation in a longer extract at quebecreads.com.