¡Atrévete! Regala libros originales: Yara y otras historias; 34 relatos, 34 sorpresas. Siglema 575:poesía minimalista; una nueva manera de vivir la poesía. Di lo que quieres decir: Antología de siglemas 575; resultados de los Certámenes Internacionales de Siglema 575. El mundo oculto, novela de Shamim Sarif, traducida por Patricia Schaefer Röder. Andares: cuentos de viajes. A la venta en lulu.com, amazon.com, bn.com y librerías.
¡Encuentra mis libros en el área metro de San Juan, Puerto Rico! Aeropuerto Luis Muñoz Marín; Río Piedras: librerías Mágica, Tertulia y Norberto González; Viejo San Juan: Museo de Las Américas, Tertulia y The Poet's Passage; Santurce: Libros AC; San Patricio: The Bookmark; Guaynabo: Mundo de Papel; Carolina: The Bookmark, Ponce: El Candil. En Miami, Florida: Libería Impacto. En Monterrey, México: Librería de la Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León.
The World Unseen, by Shamim Sarif: Translation Presentation
by Roslyn C. Famous
Let me begin by saying that I am honored to have been asked to be here.
When Patricia first called me to ask me to be on the panel, I was at
once flattered and frightened.
While I AM a translator and a grand admirer of both the art and the
craft of literary translation, I am NOT a literary translator. It is an
arduous craft that requires a depth of literary skills and patience.
Now, while I can eventually learn the literary skills, it’s the patience
and a long attention span that I cannot.
So I come before you all tonight as a representative of a casual bilingual reader who knows about translating.
Set in South Africa in the early 50’s, THE WORLD UNSEEN by Shamim Sarif
is a novel that, in my opinion, stands out for its cinematic
descriptions and narration. In other words, you feel like you are at the
What makes the novel so great for me is Ms. Sarif’s ability to paint
brilliant imagery with the brush strokes of simple text and dialogue
that move you—breathlessly and with great anticipation—from one chapter
to the next. I liken her novel to impressionist artwork painted solely
with primary colors.
Secondly, the author describes emotions so well that that reader immediately identifies and empathizes with the characters.
From the very beginning, this is a book that instantly jolts you into
tense moments that spark your curiosity. As you read along, you soon
realize that the first chapter was only the start of the emotional
rollercoaster that keeps you turning page after page, as it takes you
from one climatic moment to the next.
I mean, like, the book is 315 pages long, and when I got to page 307 it STILL felt like a cliff hanger.
So with all that in mind, the question NOW is: how does one appreciate
the translation? What are the hallmarks of a translation worthy of
Well for me, in a work such as this, I’m less concerned about whether
the translator—in this case, PATRICIA, found the precise word. As an
“accidental translation critic”, I am more interested in finding out if
the reader of the translation experiences the same emotions, the same
thoughts, the same context, and same writing style as the reader of the
original text. That, to me, is my litmus test.
And in my assessment, Patricia PASSED that test. She deftly transmits the simplistic, cinematic writing style of Ms. Sarif.
And let me tell you, I tested this with the most “scientifically proven”
method possible. I’ll let you in on the secret: I… would flip back and
forth between the two books. Yep. Totally legit science.
What impressed me was just how seamless it was to do this. I could read
one chapter in English, and the next chapter in Spanish and feel that
both were written by the same person.
What’s the big deal, you say? That can’t be too hard, right? Wrong.
Writing style is as personal and unique as the way we think and dress.
And finding someone who shares your style is a special moment. To echo
the style of the original author so flawlessly is a feat worthy of
Patricia spoke to me and mentioned how one of the things that first drew
her attention to the book was her affinity for the author’s writing
style. I’d have to agree.
As mentioned earlier, another characteristic of Ms. Sarif’s writing
style is her ability to engulf the reader in the emotions, tension,
suspension, and tenderness of her novel.
Without giving away any part of the plot, all I can say is that there is
one scene that had me on the edge of my seat, my heartbeat racing with
each word, and identifying with the protagonist’s fear. So much so, that
at one point, as I was lying in bed, I literally screamed a dramatic
NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!, leaped up, threw the book aside, and was terrified to
turn the page and find out what would happen next.
THAT, ladies and gentleman, is pure magic.
That ability for a story teller to awaken your imagination with a specific combination of words is a beautiful skill.
Recreating that magic in another language is, to me, one of the hardest
challenges of translating literature. For it’s not just a matter of
opening a dictionary and picking any word, it’s about understanding the
power of words.
Patricia masterfully recaptured that magic in her translation. I’ll use an example that doesn’t give away the plot.
So, imagine this: A young wife is being sent back to India because she
“shamed” her husband and his family. Before leaving, she begged them to
let her take their 1st born son back with her. We are now at the train
station, and her husband has accompanied her and their 2 children as
they board the train. The husband is standing outside on the platform:
[PATRICIA READ PAGE 140-142]
As I said: PURE. MAGIC.
This is but one of many emotional scenes, each of which was brilliantly translated by Patricia.
Congratulations Patricia, on finding this gem and sharing your act of
love with the Spanish-speaking world. Thank you for uncovering yet
another layer of THE WORLD UNSEEN.
And thank you, for bestowing me the honor of being here.
El mundo oculto (The World Unseen), by Shamim Sarif
Translated by Patricia Schaefer Röder
Ediciones Scriba NYC
ISBN: 978-0-9845727-3-1 Buy it here
How did you get started as a literary translator?
I have been writing creatively all my life; and interpreting—informally—my
whole life, too. I have a passion for biology, and got my Bachelor of Science
in Caracas, Venezuela. Nevertheless, the lab was not really where I wanted to
be. I found a way to match my knowledge of sciences with my language and
writing skills by translating scientific texts for the general public. I worked
for some years, acquired experience as a translator, and got certified by the
American Translators Association (ATA). Then I diversified to different
scientific and technical subjects and even reached out to other fields, such as
media and advertising, but I kept on writing short fiction stories. One day, a
friend told me about her friend who was an editor and publisher, and who was
looking for a translator who also was a writer, so I sent the editor some
samples, and she gave me an excellent opportunity: I translated from English
into Spanish The Reddening Path, a beautiful and powerful
novel by Amanda Hale. I really loved every part of the
project: the challenges, the creative process, the research, and the final
rendition of the book translated into my mother tongue, under the title of El
sendero encarnado. I definitely fell in love with literary
translation; since then, I have kept on translating for other writers.
What languages and genres do you translate?
I like to translate narrative—short and long—of all genres, but I have to admit
that I enjoy translating song lyrics very much, too. Although I’ve done some
literary and lyrical projects from German into Spanish, most of my translations
in this field have been from English into Spanish.
Do you do other creative writing?
Oh, yes! I write short fiction, as well as poetry. I like to play with the
language, that’s why in Yara y otras historias—my first collection of
short stories—I included nine tautograms: stories in which each word starts
with the same letter. Ironically, these stories cannot be translated.
poetry, I created the form “siglem 575”, a type of minimalist poetry consisting of stanzas composed
of three verses of five, seven and five syllables, respectively. Being so
didactic in its nature, the siglem 575 is now used by people from many
countries and is now taught in different schools around the Americas. I have to
say that it’s really difficult to translate siglems 575.
What do you love most about literary translation?
Literary translation is a way to reach out to the public and break down cultural
barriers, while helping to build tolerance among different peoples. The
challenge of transmitting the feelings, emotions and depictions created by the
author, so that they can be enjoyed and felt by people of a different culture,
motivates me to always reach for perfection. Getting into the characters and
giving them life in another language lets me be creative with them, while at
the same time, I learn from them. And, since I will always be a scientist, I
also love doing research.
What’s a recent project you’ve worked on? What was most challenging about it?
My last literary translation, published in 2016, was El mundo oculto—the Spanish translation of
the novel The World Unseen, by Shamim Sarif. It’s a beautiful and important
story about human and women’s rights in 1950’s South Africa. I found out that
Ms. Sarif’s writing style is very similar to mine, which made this project very
delightful. It felt as if I was writing the story from scratch, my hand held by
the author, guiding me. The translation received wonderful comments, for which
I am very grateful.
this very moment, I am working on Mi dulce curiosidad, the Spanish
translation of the novel My Sweet Curiosity, by Amanda Hale. It’s a very
interesting book with two parallel stories, which include modern day Toronto
and 16th century Europe. Although Ms. Hale and I share a similar writing style,
the biggest challenge is the slang in the young people’s dialogue. But I’m
working on that. Each project has its own character and poses its own
challenges, and I love them because they make me learn and grow even more.
Many thanks to you, Patricia, for your time and sharing a
bit of your path to literary translation with us. I always enjoy hearing about
how talented people in other fields find their way and get started. It’s also
interesting to learn about translators’ other creative outlets and writing.
readers, do you do any creative writing outside of literary translation? Does
it compliment or sharpen your literary translation skills? If so, please share
your thoughts with us!
you enjoyed this article, please consider giving it a Like or a share!
received her MFA in English and Creative Writing from Mills College in Oakland,
California. Her translations have appeared in The Other Poetry of Barcelona,
Códols in New York, 580 Split, Cerise Press, and Río Grande Review. She has
taught English and ESL throughout the Bay Area and worked at several nonprofit
organizations including the Center for the Art of Translation. She has recently
returned to the Bay Area after teaching literary translation and English at the
Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro in Querétaro, Mexico.