Translating ‘I Have No Friends’ Novel to Russian§
by Russell Dyer
published: september 04, 2017; revised: september 04, 2017; readers in past month: 694
One of the editors for my novel, I Have No Friends, Elena Kartushina has begun translating it into Russian. Based on some elements of the story, while she was editing it, she suggested that it might be appealing to Russian women readers. After it was published, she offered to translate it to Russian for me. I know very little Russian, but I’m thrilled at the idea of publishing my novel in another language.
As she’s been working on the translation, Elena has discussed several aspects with me. Some of them are interesting to me as a writer and a former language student. For instance, when the main character talks to a few people, she uses their title (e.g., Mr. Stringer). There is one fastidious woman in the story who insists on being called, Ms. Hamilton and refers similarly to others. At one point, the narrator discusses this idiosyncrasy and later notes when she drops the formality during a stressful scene. Russians don’t use such titles when speaking to each other. During Soviet times, they would use the title of comrade for everyone, but that ended decades ago. Dropping the titles for most of the scenes is easy. They used titles before Soviet times, but that was over one-hundred years ago. They just don’t have it in their culture anymore. But Elena has to decide how to handle the scenes with Ms. Hamilton and what would be a good alternative to present the same sense of the character—without making her sound like someone who thinks she’s living a hundred years ago.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I wrote the first draft of the book by hand in three notebooks. I then copied the text to the computer, using a writing program called, Scrivener. I have the program set to synchronize with my DropBox account so that I have back-up copies and so that I can work on my novels from any of devices: laptop computer, tablet, or mobile telephone. I installed Scrivener on Elena’s laptop computer and made a copy of my novel for her to replace the text with Russian. When she saves what she’s written, it synchronizes with my DropBox account. This saves her the trouble of having to send me copies and it allows me to see the progress she’s making.
So far, Elena has translated the first eight chapters—there are fifteen, but the final chapters are shorter. So that’s about seventy-percent of the book. I think she will finish by the end of the year. When she has finished, I will upload it to Create Space, Amazon’s book printing subsidiary, and have a bunch of copies printed, as well as have it available for sale on Amazon. We’re hoping to get some bookstores to sell it in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia. That would be very cool, to see my novel in a bookstore in Moscow.
Since I don’t speak or read Russian, I can’t help Elena with the proofreading. But if you can read Russian and are interested in reading it, we could use some help checking for mistakes: typing, spelling, and other such things. We’d also appreciate some feedback on how the translation compares to the English version. But that would be too much to expect, for someone to read both. Nevertheless, it would be awesome to get that kind of assistance. Please let me know if you can help in any capacity. If you’d like, though, you can read the first chapters without committing to provide help.