Sunday, May 11, 2008


Tome Raider

Getting translated can be a uniquely unsettling experience: an unexpected package arrives with customs stamps and the word "libri" or some such neatly written on it -- and inside, a pile of perhaps ten unrecognizable books with your name inexplicably printed on the cover. And you can't read a word of what's inside. My books could be switched with recipes for venison and I'd never know it.

And thus, Stuart Kelly's own venison moment in the Scotsman today...

I received a pleasant, if curious, surprise last week – the Chinese translation of my first book, The Book Of Lost Books. The ideograms, though beautiful, are completely incomprehensible to me, with only a few words in English peppering the text.

But the weirdest thing was the introduction, which was entitled "Lost and Found and Something Inbetween", and had an epigram ("Everything lost wants to be found") attributed to Tomb Raider's Lara Croft. The weird thing is that I didn't write any of that – and since the rest is in Chinese, I have no idea what it says.
The definitive work of mistranslation remains, of course... Jimmy James, Macho Donkey Business Wrestler.

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