After meeting some of my favourite Danish authors at the 2013 Copenhagen Book Fair on the weekend, I’ve been reminded today of where it all started. My first ever translation, Benny Andersen’s The Contract Killer, has been reviewed in the October edition of World Literature Today!
The prolific Benny Andersen turns a failed private investigator into a bumbling hired gun in this short comic play. Andersen presents absurdist approaches to questions of life and death, never losing his sense of humor or his lighthearted turn of phrase. The shy and ineffectual protagonist — a hallmark of Andersen’s — is as relatable in English as in Danish.
The play is now available for purchase at French’s Theatre Bookshop, as well as at Book Depository and Foyle’s. For anyone interested, details for performance rights of The Contract Killer can be obtained by filling in a contact form.
Next month, Kristian Bang Foss will receive his EUPL for Death Drives an Audi, one of the first sample translations I wrote. I’m very excited for Kristian and hope there’s an English publisher out there thinking of taking on this wonderful book!
Here’s a short extract of the English sample as well as a link to the EUPL site with a little information on the author.
From Death Drives an Audi by Kristian Bang Foss
Translated by Paul Russell Garrett
Another expression we were fond of was “plump pillows for side sleepers”. We picked it up in Ikea, on a trip to get Waldemar a new lamp. We discovered it on a completely geniotic diagram in the bedroom department, where, depending on your sleeping position – on your back, stomach, side, etc. – you could find out which size pillow you should be using. We repeated it constantly; it even ousted dreamsweets for a time. When we got tired of just saying, ‘plump pillows for side sleepers,’ and of asking in shops if they had plump pillows for side sleepers, we began to make small variations on the theme, and the conversation would go something like this:
‘Are you going to buy a new pillow soon, Waldemar?’
‘How plump is the pillow going to be?’
‘It’s going to be disgustingly plump.’
‘Because I’m a side sleeper.’
One day, it went so far that we actually petitioned the council to get Waldemar a plumper pillow. Our reasoning was that he had just discovered he was a side sleeper. The case handler wanted to see documentation, so we had Waldemar’s doctor write a declaration that he needed a plump pillow on health grounds. And when the council gave us carte blanche for pillow-buying, we took a trip to Ikea. We agreed that Waldemar should say, ‘My name is Waldemar, I’m a side sleeper and I would like the plumpest pillow you’ve got.’
In front of Ikea, we smoked a joint. Waldemar rolled his wheelchair towards the automatic doors; the glass slid away with a whistle and I stood by his side saying, ‘Do you hear that Waldemar? That’s the door to pillow heaven opening wide.’
On our way to the department with pillows and duvets and all that, we passed through the furniture showroom, where one chair in particular caught our attention. It was called the Jerker and I shouted, ‘Look, they’ve got a chair called the Jerker!’ We both cried with laughter and I had to sit in the chair for a minute to recover. A couple in their late thirties came by; they looked unspeakably self-important and were clearly considering buying a Jerker, so I got up to let them study it in peace.
I’ve submitted the translation of my first novel!
Michael Katz Krefeld’s Derailed (Afsporet) was recently released in Denmark and jumped straight into second place on Denmark’s bestseller list. I’m now working on my second Danish crime novel, Jakob Melander’s The House That Jack Built (Øjesten.)
Watch this space for updates on Simon Pasternak’s Death Zones (Dødszoner); the world English rights were recently purchased by a UK publisher with publication due for summer 2015. This is one of the best Danish crime novels I’ve read in recent years and I hope it does well. I’ve been asked by the publisher to write some blogs about Death Zones nearer the date. I’ll be sure to post the links here!
An enticing job advert is placed in the morning paper, drawing a throng of women to the company’s reception room. Personnel Manager Frederiksen has been given the impossible task of finding the perfect applicant for a job that every woman in the country is seemingly after. The beleaguered interviewer soon finds himself barricaded in his office, caught between the raucous crowd of women and the gaping window, three stories up. With each applicant becoming more desperate than the last, will he somehow manage to find the right woman for the job?
The Applicants is an absurdist comedy, exploring what happens when the pressure of the job interview becomes too much for both applicant and manager.
Produced by [Foreign Affairs]
Featuring Erica Chestnut, Jason Denyer, Camila França and Trine Garrett.
Translated from the Danish by Paul Russell Garrett.
John Thaw Studio, The Actors Centre
1a Tower Street, London, WC2H 9NP
Fridays & Saturdays, 17 May – 1 June 2013
Busy, busy, busy! Too busy, in fact, to be writing this. London Book Fair is just over a month away and I’ll be working on various sample translations right up until the weekend before the fair.
The BCLT summer translation class in Norwegian seems to be paying off, as I am currently translating almost as much Norwegian as Danish. I’ve just submitted the translation of an article for Granta’s Norwegian edition and prior to that I worked on a lovely little chapter of Laila Sognnæs Østhagen’s Cone Heart.
As part of BCLT’s Mentoring Programme, Barbara Haveland and I have been diligently working on the first act of Helmer Hardcore, a mad Danish play which imagines the fate of Helmer, the day after Nora leaves him in A Doll’s House. It’s a lot of fun working on this, especially after the translation of A Doll’s House which I produced for [Foreign Affairs] last autumn.
Finally, stay tuned for more information on Peter Albrechtsen’s play, The Applicants, with a production pencilled in for later this year.