Monday, January 18, 2016

Reader's Diary #1243- Salomat Vafo, translated by Kosim Mamurov: The Swing


Most often when I don't enjoy or understand a translated story I'm left wondering whether or not I'd have enjoyed it in the original language. What if it was a poor translation?

There's no doubt in my mind that Salomat Vafo's "The Swing" is poorly translated.

The courtyard had been swept and cleaned like a china dish; sheep’s head, legs and lungs were boiling hard in a big pot and smelling tastily.

I could tell, I think, that this story of a man returning home for his mother's funeral and doing a lot of negative self-reflection probably had its strengths. There's a lot of great imagery that manages to sneak past the bad grammar and a consistent, stifling mood that works for the plot. Still, I had to work sometimes to figure out what was meant and the mistakes were very distracting. There were also a lot of strange details. For instance, Vafo seems to focus a lot on sounds. This could make for strong imagery, but the sounds were all repeated onomatopoeia and used as often as it is comes across as bizarre: tick-ticking, taq-tuq taq-tuq, geek geek, piq piq.

Fine for a glimpse of Uzbekistan, I suppose, but not a great translation for English readers.

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