Etgar kicked off the discussion by telling the audience he didn’t know anyone who wrote and at first he thought his way of writing was the only way. He admitted that it was very difficult to write a novel without knowing what it is about. “Short story is a completely different process and for me writing is like wave surfing.”
Talk then moved on to the translation of Etgar’s book into English. Nathan was one of the translators who worked on translating Etgar’s book. Etgar’s books were written in Hebrew colloquial speak and this did make translating the book hard at times. He told the audience that he got a lot of criticism for choosing to write in this form of Hebrew. Nathan added “that his job was to put the story in the world. However it was scary to take responsibility for someone elses work.” We were told that in the American addition of the book it tells you what translator translated what story. “This is not done in the UK version; Etgar’s voice really comes through.”
Etgar commented on how Nathan takes freedom that other translators don’t take. “When I read his changes, they seem right. He really connects to the essence of the story.”Nathan added that “a story is truth and there is always a choice to make. Translation is a great language lesson.”
“It wouldn’t be successful if it wasn’t for a great translator” Etger added to the discussion. The translator has to be someone who you feel totally comfortable with. “Translators are like ninjas, if you notice them they are not any good. One has to be a saint to be a translator.” Nathan added that it is a “unusual luxury to translate something you are passionate about.”
Nathan didn’t want any payment for his part in translating Etgar’s short stories. The two of them are good friends and it was decided that as payment Etgar is working on translating Nathan’s book into Hebrew.
On that thought an interesting hour’s discussion was brought to a close.