Home Forums General Discussion On Translating The House of Sleep

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    Dear Jonathan,
    It took me a while to realize that you’ve answered my post at Goodreads after all and that you’ve asked me to join this board. Here I paste my entire Goodreads post:
    "Dear Jonathan,
    Some nine years ago I translated The House of Sleep into Serbian and even though I have translated many renowned authors since then (P. Carey, A.C. Clark, J.G. Ballard, J.C. Oats, E.L. Doctorow…) your book is still my favourite translation thus far. Of course the book is magnificent, but it was also the fact that I was very young, quite high on my new profession, and knew nothing about your work. The book was everything translator might hope for, it stretched my creativity to the limit, allowed me to translate my first rap, first sonnet and in fact to do so many things for the first time that it totally changed my outlook on translation in general. When aspiring translators of literature ask me about my profession I always tell them about how I was forced to locate/imagine/invent 12 Serbian words for different seashells for the sand castle scene. Then I tell them about the article with mixed up footnotes that needed to remain both ambiguous and humorous when translated. Some of them still want to give it a try after that 🙂
    In short, I wanted to congratulate you for writing such a flawless book and thank you for the unique experience that you afforded me. I am just sorry that no one ever adapted it for the screen (though it would probably prove impossible to adapt) since I always thought of young Hugh Laurie as Robert and Gillian Anderson as Sara. Do you have faces of your characters in your head while you write, btw? I really do hope that I will get the chance to translate some other book of yours (The Rotters’ Club perhaps). It would be fantastic. keep up the good work.
    Milan Marković
    My girlfriend is teaching a university course in English literature and few months ago she received a paper on The House of Sleep by a student who totally failed to comprehend that there were two time planes intertwined in the novel. The student tried to make it into a coherent story regardless, and the result was simultaneously touching and hilarious, really resembling something that Sara would write in her condition."

    Furthermore, I wonder if the translators of your work often contact you with their questions and impressions and do you have your regular translators for different languages? Also, do you have a favorite among your books? It is a stupid question that authors often refuse to answer for whatever reason, but I know that I have my favorite translations, so there you go. Sincerely


    Thanks for this very good novel, all the same.


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