2 to 20 November 2016
Kristiina Drews (Lappeeranta, 1952) is a literary translator from English into Finnish. She has translated fiction for 35 years, both British and American writers, and a few African and Indian writers as well. Among the best known are perhaps Margaret Atwood, Michael Cunningham, William Faulkner, Julian Barnes, Vladimir Nabokov, Joyce Carol Oates, Harper Lee and Nadine Gordimer. She has also translated several musicals together with her colleague Jukka Virtanen, for example Les Miserables, West Side Story, Saturday Night Fever and Miss Saigon. For her work,she has received several prizes and grants: The Finnish Government Award for Translation in 1989, the Translators Mikael Agricola Prize in 1998, and various grants in between.
At the moment she is translating Flann O’Brien’s Irish novel called At Swim-Two-Birds.
The project of translating At Swim-Two-Birds has been going on for quite some time. After almost 30 years since I translated the author’s second book, his first has prospects to be published in 2017 by Publishers Aula & Co. I have now finished three quarters of the raw translation step, and wish to be able to complete the whole translation during my stay in the Faber Residence. What especially draws my attention in the final step is the interpretation of the old Irish poems that O’Brien uses (in his own English translation!) throughout the book. Not to mention the exceptional variety of literary styles and registers. It is often said that a translator is like a chameleon, adjusting to the atmosphere of the environment. When translating O’Brien, you have to be a hundred chameleons.