Translators and crime fiction/Übersetzer und Krimis

Hot off the press comes this report of last November: the Crime Writers Association awarded the Golden Dagger to Silence of the Grave, by Arnaldur Indridason (German Todeshauch – see It was translated into English by Bernard Scudder. But in future, translations will not be allowed. (This has nothing to do with the new sponsor, Duncan Lawrie Private Bank, after whom the prize is being renamed the Duncan Lawrie Dagger):

Books in translation present a particular problem. Are we rewarding the original writer or the translator? The problems of catching idiom and ‘voice’ in one language and reproducing this in another are formidable. The role of the translator is more creative than that of simply transcribing from one language into another. We are therefore actively seeking a sponsor for an award that will recognise the contribution of the translator and hope to make an announcement as soon as possible.
The Duncan Lawrie Dagger is the world’s premier award for new crime fiction. Last year there were over two hundred entries for its predecessor, the Gold Dagger. The introduction of the new Duncan Lawrie Dagger will almost certainly increase the entry again.
The decision to exclude translations is in no way jingoistic: this Dagger is open to anyone writing crime fiction anywhere in the world, as long as the book is written in English and published in the UK.

Guardian article of November.

6 thoughts on “Translators and crime fiction/Übersetzer und Krimis

  1. Their justification is transparent nonsense, of course:

    “Are we rewarding the original writer or the translator?”
    No, you’re rewarding the book! Duhhhhhhh!

    A game of variations: “Are we rewarding the original writer or the editor/publisher/agent?” (Foucault’s _What is an author?_ is actually useful, for once, here.)

  2. I wonder what made them do this. The transparent nonsense is presumably not the real reason. The Guardian thinks it’s because there are not many good UK crime novels around today. Or would the translators be wanting some of the now twenty thou on offer? I presume any award that recognizes the translator’s contribution will be less generously funded. (Crime novels are among the most translatable!)
    The Netherlands is famous for giving literary translators awards and grants so they can afford to live.

  3. Please pardon the totally OT comment, but there is a beautiful line in one of the short articles further down on the page where the Guardian article appears: “I have hunted the truffle with a pig, and I have hunted the truffle with a dog.” (OK, maybe I should have taken this to LantraPets instead.)

  4. Truffles are welcome here. When I was in the 6th form, indeed, we had a class called Language Geography, and I wrote a paper on hunting the truffle with both. I have mixed feelings about the page, though, since for many years I used a videocassette of the TV series by Marcel Berlins called The Law Machine, and I tired of him.
    Does Lantra have a pets section?

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