The curious incident of the dog in the nighttime/Supergute Tage oder die Welt des Christopher Boone

In an interview for the Guardian, Mark Haddon briefly discusses the translations of his novel (the German one has already appeared, translated by Sabine Hübner).

This is just an excuse to say how much I enjoyed it. Having a narrator with Asperger’s syndrome is like an intensification of the naive child narrator. Unfortunately it was over too soon. (I am recovering from a couple of other books I perhaps shouldn’t have read to the end).

bq. Q: How much input do you have into the various translations – especially with the idiomatic expressions (pig of a day, apple of my eye, skeleton in the closet etc)? Do they tell you how they think they would work in another language and ask your permission, or do they just go ahead and do whatever they want?

bq. I worked in Swindon for a while. Made me want to kill a poodle too…

bq. MH: I have had long, involved and often very funny email discussions with other translators about, for example, the precise size of the fork or the precise nature of liquorice laces.

bq. Q: Did you discuss the book with your translators at all, or was it simply something organised by your publisher without your input? Were they able to contact you with specific queries?

bq. MH: The translators are organised by the foreign publishers but they’re always free to contact me through my agent over here. Mind you, so far there have been, I think, 34 foreign co-editions, so I’m quite glad that most of the translators were happy to go ahead without input from me…

The remark on the translation of metaphors is misplaced. Christopher, the narrator, cannot understand metaphors. If ‘a pig of a day’ doesn’t work in the target language, any other idiom will do just as well. I can’t imagine asking the author’s permission if the original metaphor doesn’t work, or you could ask 300 questions. The reference to ‘other translators’ makes it sound as if something has been cut.

[No offence to Armin in Swindon]

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