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Review: Findus Goes Fishing

Findus goes fishing

The wonderful Zoe Toft has not only written a review of Findus Goes Fishing, she has interviewed the translator! Reproduced with her kind permission, here is the review and an extract from the interview. Visit her website to read the whole thing.

Findus goes Fishing by Sven Nordqvist, translated by Nathan Large, is a book for anyone who’s ever got out of bed the wrong side and felt like nothing at all could improve their day, and also for all those who’ve spent time with someone they love who’s under a dark cloud. It’s a story of patience, love, empathy and one crazy cat.

It’s a gloomy autumn day and old farmer Pettson is down in the dumps. He doesn’t feel like doing any of the jobs he knows he needs to do. He’s blue and stuck in a funk. But his loyal and very dear friend, a kittenish cat called Findus is full of beans and just wants to play. Pettson is having none of it and snaps. “I AM IN A BAD MOOD AND I WANT TO BE LEFT ALONE!

How can you bring a little happiness back to someone who is feeling unhappy and depressed? What can you do to bring them a small ray of sunshine when all they have above their heads is a dark cloud? Findus may want to have some fun, but he also really wants to make his good friend feel better and so with a little bit of patience, a lot of thoughtfulness and – because Findus is a bit of a rascal – a dash of mischief, Findus cleverly finds a way to help Pettson back onto his feet.

It’s not sugar coated. It’s not all sweetness and light. There is grunting and gloom aplenty. But there’s also a cat with a very big heart who’s not afraid of persevering even when he’s told to scram. Findus helps us all to find a bit of loyalty and kindness in the face of rejection.

This hugely reassuring story is a relatively quiet affair (certainly by the madcap standards of earlier Findus and Pettson escapades), with muted illustrations in browns and greys perfectly matching the moody atmosphere. But Findus goes Fishing is far from downbeat. There are still many moments to spark giggles (all I’ll say is: Who hasn’t known a child who loves to rock chairs onto their back legs?), and the detailed, rich illustrations are a full of cameos worthy of a spotlight on their own.

FGF ZT 1
An excerpt from Findus Goes Fishing written and illustrated by Sven Nordqvist

I’m a strong contender for the UK’s No. 1 Findus and Pettson fan, such is my love for these characters and the stories Sven Nordqvist writes. Findus goes Fishing is yet another wonderfully enjoyable, funny-yet-not-afraid-of-being-serious story really all about that most important of things: love and how we share it.

To celebrate the publication next week of Findus goes Fishing I interviewed the book’s UK English translator, Nathan Large and started by asking him a little about his background and how he became a translator. “I come from Gloucestershire and live in Stockholm, the home town of my partner, Emilie. I started translating while working as a linguist on a project developing machine translation tools. At first this was for research reasons, to explore patterns that our software could use. But gradually the translating branched out and found a life of its own.

Having briefly worked as a translator myself many years ago I wondered what Nathan found particularly enjoyable about the work and his reply really resonated with me. “If you love language for its own sake, there’s always something to discover or enjoy in the work. If you are a curious person, translation also gives you the excuse to read about all sorts of subjects, making you among other things (un)popular at pub quizzes. Generally speaking, it is no bad thing to help people share their stories across languages.” I couldn’t agree more and this is certainly one of the reason’s I’m so grateful to translators, and publishing houses who seek out books in translation.

So how do the nuts and bolts of translation fit together for Nathan? Where does he begin? “It depends. Sven Nordqvist’s stories are pure fun. I read the book, then translate it the old-fashioned way, page by page. I check the draft against the original to see if I’ve missed anything, then put the Swedish to one side and focus on the English. Reading aloud is the best way to do this — the tongue trips over what the eye ignores.” This idea of reading aloud is really interesting – I’ve heard many authors use exactly the same technique, especially with picture book texts, and perhaps this shared approach is no surprise, as translators really are authors in disguise; translators, particularly literary translators, have to be great writers in their own language before sensitivity to a second language can come in to it.

(To read the entire interview, visit Zoe Toft’s Website Playing by the Book)

More about the book here…