I first heard the term 'the invisible translator' from Sonja Finck, who has been translating English, Spanish and French texts into German for almost fifteen years. It had never occurred to me that translators are rarely acknowledged when we talk about books we love, perhaps your favorite edition of Anna Karenina? (I chose this because I read Anna Karenina every year at Christmas and I actually have my favorite translation of it, the Kent-Berberova revision of Garnett's translation, but I digress...)
Personally, I have always been fascinated by translators because I'm fascinated with language, and I'm jealous of anyone who can master two or more languages to the extent that enables them to move so seamlessly between stories and cultures.
But being able to also translate nuance and poetry and truly understand what an author is attempting to do beyond the written word, well that's a whole other level. One that Sonja Finck excelled at when she translated THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES into German. (It probably also helps if you talk to your translator every single day over email for a month) Without a translation that captured my original intent there is no way that DER GERUCH VON HAUSERN ANDERE LEUTE would have ever won the 2017 German Youth literature award at the Frankfurt Book Fair. (It did! Or perhaps I dreamt it?) Journalism friends, please forgive me for burying the lede. It was inevitable.
I am so grateful to Sonja and to my German publisher Barbara Konig, from Konigskinder Verlag who fell in love with the story by page four, or so she tells me. Thank you German readers and the German Literature Award committee! Der Deutscher Jugendliteratur Preis celebrated it's 60th year during the Frankfurt Buchmesse and I am so honored to have been a part of it with these amazing people. Vielen, vielen Dank!