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Meet book translator Steven T. Murray

Do you know who Steven T. Murray is? How about Reg Keeland? They are actually the same person. Steven T. Murray (his real name) is a book translator and Reg Keeland is this fake name.

Murray is (partially) well known for translating Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy from Swedish into English. He’s also translated Henning Mankell’s books and lots of other Scandinavian literature. Here’s a little article by Murray printed in Publishers Weekly in 2010.

Book translating is a thankless task. An author may use a word that simply does not exist in English or even a particular piece of jargon or slang that is, frankly, untranslatable. The person(s) who translated Haruki Murakami’s books must be some sort of genius – they have to grasp the Japanese language and all the cultural meaning including in his writing. Imagine trying to translate Harry Potter into Latin when Rowling uses unique, made-up words like Muggle and Quidditch?

Murray’s fame is growing to the extent that books signed by him are increasing in value – anywhere from $42 to $1,500.

Murray is making an appearance in the Bay Area’s Litquake literary festival on November 8 at the Commonwealth Club of California. From Smilla to Salander: An Odyssey in Translating Nordic Crime Fiction also features fellow translator Tiina Nunnally.

There is also a VIP reception for Murray at the lovely Book Club of California later that same night, where you can meet the translator.

Posted by on October 4, 2011.

Categories: books, literature, work

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