I guess if you want to become an Icelandic translator, first you should go live on a farm for awhile, and then you should write some poetry. Then start translating.
Such was Arnaldur Indriðason’s advice, given during a panel at this weekend’s Iceland Noir Festival. The panel, called “The Perils of Translation – Does Icelandic Fiction Translate?” included Arnaldur (his only panel of the festival, actually) as well as authors Árni Þórarinsson and Óttar M. Norðfjörð, and translators Anna Yates (English) and Tina Flecken (German). It happened to come up that Tina, like a few other translators who Arnaldur has worked with, learned Icelandic when she was living on a farm with an elderly couple who didn’t speak English. As for the poetry part, Arnaldur was referring to the late, esteemed English translator Bernard Scuddur, who was a poet as well as a translator, which Arnaldur said added depth and layers to his translation work.
I didn’t get to attend as many of the festival panels as I would have liked (homework and writing called), but nevertheless very much enjoyed the panels I was able to attend, met some lovely people—both some new and familiar faces—and was definitely happy to be able to attend the translation panel.
It’s perhaps a bit after the fact, but if you want to read a festival preview that I wrote for The Grapevine, you can do so here. I also collected a number of Q&As with a number of authors who were in attendance, and got a lot of interesting answers back. So if you are interested in crime fiction, you might find those of interest, too.