Just take a minute and think how many Non-English books translated in English that you have enjoyed. The chances are that there are many such books. From the legends like Rabindra Nath Tagore, Leo Tolstoy, Paulo Coelho, Calvino, Kafka to recent wonders like Murakami- they all adored and loved by English readers. But we fail to give credit to the people who brought these books closer to the English readers & that is the translators . They are like silent ninjas who have been instrumental in bringing the cultures together.
Earlier this month, the translator of the celebrated literary icon, Gabriel Garcia Marquez died in Connecticut. Gregory Rabassa was 94 and he was instrumental in bringing Latin American authors to English speaking countries. Apart from Marquez, Rabassa has also translated the books of Julio Cortazar. Marquez himself praised Rabassa often and once said that his translation of “One hundred Years in Solitude” was an art in itself.
I am big admirer of Marquez books. His books seldom seemed like foreign, they always touched the cords of English readers. Gregory Rabassa died on 14th June and though I follow many blogs and twitter handles related to books and literature, I didn’t see any tributes for him. I felt sad. I went to my bookshelf and saw his name credited as the translator. I felt so bad that I never acknowledged his name until he was dead.
Rest in Peace Gregory and hope your name will be alive in long times to come. I hope the publishers and media give more attention and love to the translators. They are as much an artists in their rights as are the writers and the editors. English and Spanish are a very different language in terms of metaphors and expression, but Gregory made sure we never felt that different. Also, a big shout and love to the translators all over the world.