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While only two of my books have been translated into other languages (foreign publishers, get chatting with Allan at The North Agency if you want to help fix this sad, sad situation!), each of these experiences has been rather nice, especially when it comes to seeing how other countries look at the crime novel and the way in which they want it to look.
I loved the Italian translation (now out of print? I think so but can’t be sure) of THE GOOD SON, which became L’impicatto. My then-editor, Matteo Strukull is an awesome author in his own right, and really took charge of the translation of the book. My one issue was always that he seemed to give the mysterious J McNee an actual first name (at least, in the cover blurb) where he was suddenly John McNee. This always makes me laugh because we learn later that McNee’s name begins with “Ja” but never get any further than that.
But, seriously, my favourite part about this edition was the cover:
I mean, it is gorgous, isn’t it? Hand painted by Davide Furno, who also did covers for DC Vertigo’s series, Scalped, it just gets everything. From the Dundee buildings to the Scottish flag sky to that hanging man himself, it really works. I mean, I’d read it…
But when things got interesting for me was the French and the Germans decided to take on Ed’s Dead. You couldn’t have two more wildly opposing approaches to a book, I think, which maybe says something.
The brilliant Robert Pepin took on Ed’s Dead as part of his list (I met Robert in 2018 at the FIRN festival in the South of France– a brilliant and very charismatic chap) and I can tell you that the translation (at least to my limited knowledge of the French language) is very good. But the cover seems very serious given the darkly comic nature of the novel. It also makes bookseller Jen seem incredibly glamorous as she hunts out the person who’s apparently broken into her flat…
But it’s a cover that works in the French market (even those doors are more a French apartment than a Glasgow tenement) and feels very retro to me in the best way.
But compare that to what happens when Jen gets a makeover for the German market:
Here, Jen becomes a little more dowdy and also a little more comic. But I love her here; I think the cover absolutely captures the dark and occasionally absurd humour of the book, something that clearly appealed to the German market.
But it’s also fascinating to me how the two different translations of exactly the same book went for such wildly varying approaches. Which one was more succesful? I don’t know, although I can say I seem to hear from more German reader than French ones, but maybe they’re just more willing to approach the author?
Either way, I adore both editions and both countries. And even if I haven’t had anything more translated into Italian, my God, I love my Italian readers, too!
Anyway, there we go, just a little look into my foreign language adventures so far, and an excuse to show off some of my favourite covers into the bargain…