Following on from the example of STRADE (http://www NULL.ceatl NULL.eu/translation-slams-at-italian-festivaletteratura-mantova-3-7-september-2014)  at Mantua, ATLF (http://www NULL.atlf NULL.org/) organised two translation slams as part of the America festival at Vincennes. A first in France. The idea is: several  weeks in advance, two translators are sent a few pages of an unpublished text by an author who will be attending the festival. Each of them translates separately and only sees the other’s translation live. It is then up to each to defend  his or her own choice of translation and reply to questions from the audience, who have both versions to hand.

For the slam on Saturday 13 September, Nicolas Richard and Charles Recoursé had translated an unpublished short story  by American Tom Drury. Before a packed room, Emmanuèle Sandron, moderator of the duel, kicked off by questioning both contestants on their translation choices. Why that title? How do you deal with repetitions ? How do you handle the killer punchlines ? Each slammer ably pleaded his own case, when not defending the choices of his rival.

On Sunday, for the match ‘refereed’  by Cécile Deniard,  Anne Rabinovitch and Isabelle Perrin presented their translations of an extract from New Year’s, a novella by Adelle Waldman. Both gave very different versions (one rather playful, the other quite serious) of the description of the heroine  – showing once again the importance of the translator’s subjectivity.

There was a very enthusiastic response from the audience (on both occasions, the room, which seats 100, proved too small) and the questions proved both searching and relevant. An experience which everyone is anxious to repeat!

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