Here is a bit of background information on me, I have only ever known one language. I have tried to learn other languages but none of the others have stuck, one such language being Spanish. That being said, as I was reading the book Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera I found the book was excellently translated from Spanish to English. This came as no surprise to me since the book has won an award on its excellence in translation.
There are so many things that could have gone wrong when translating this novel. Different, purposeful accents in characters could have been lost, the true meaning of certain words or phrases could have been completely changed, or the choice of wording in the translation could have made the novel hard to read.
Translation is and always has been a very tricky thing that a person could try to tackle, one cannot simply press google translate and hope for the best. There is so much room when translating for a person’s own opinion to be added into the work. There are even times when a translator has no choice but to add their own ideas into a piece because there are times when some words and sentences don’t exist in the translation language. Some say that a translation can never be a perfect correspondence, that once you translate something it becomes something new altogether.
But when you pick up the translated version of Signs Preceding the End of the World, translated by Lisa Dillman, you feel as though you are reading the words directly from Yuri Herrera’s mouth. At no point in this poetic story are you confused as to what is going on in the novel, you never feel that this character painted in the book is someone you can’t understand due to language barriers. You never find a section in the novel where you feel Lisa Dillman has painted her own story. It is truly an excellent work of translation, and beautiful novel in itself. Let us all give a round of applause to Yuri Herrera and Lisa Dillman for this beautiful novel and the work they have put into it.