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Translators: Canada’s Literary Heroes

Translators: Canada’s Literary Heroes

Canada has long been a nation of literary superpowers. From Margaret Atwood to Alice Munro, Michal Ondaatje, and many others, Canada has produced fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and plays recognized on an international stage.
At home, though, it’s not just writers who play a key role in our national literary might. Since Canada has two official languages, many books are translated so they can appear in both English and French. In 1947, for example, Gabrielle Roy’s Bonheur d’occasion was translated into the Tin Flute, reaching a whole new audience of English readers in Canada.
Since then, most other major books are translated so all audiences in Canada can read them. When Canadian literature is translated into English and French, it can also travel beyond our borders to France, England, Australia, the United States, and other parts of the world where the two languages are spoken.
In some cases, writers can write in both English and French. Nancy Huston, for example, has written in both languages and has received major French awards as well as the Governor General’s award for her English-language novels. Mostly, however, it is translators who make sure our national literature is preserved in English and French – and in some cases is translated for global readers, too.
Today’s literary translators work with the latest technology but still strive with age-old questions about how to best preserve the poetic language, tone, and style, of books. Despite their hard work, though, many translators receive only a small portion of royalties and many do not have their names appear on the covers of the materials they have translated.
Things may be changing, though. Translated works are becoming more popular and translation professionals are getting more recognition through literary prizes. This year, Canadian translator Jessica Moore, for example, has earned a spot on the Man Booker prize longlist for her English translation of Maylis de Kerangal’s Réparer les vivants.
At Vedia Translation, we’d like to congratulate Jessica Moore and all the other translators working in Canada to preserve our literary heritage and to encourage literature across languages.

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