10. 17. 2017. 17:30

JAK Translators' Camp 2017

This year the Jozsef Attila Circle Translator's Camp was held once again in Dunabogdány from Sunday 8 October until Sunday 15 October. Here's a summary of another great program.

This year the Jozsef Attila Circle Translator's Camp was held once again in Dunabogdány from Sunday 8 October until Sunday 15 October.


For seven days, every morning until noon participants attended translation workshops held by Péter Rácz and András Imreh. These workshops are designed on the one hand to introduce the translators to a variety of new texts and authors which they may not have otherwise come into contact with, and on the other to exercise those translation muscles. Péter Rácz shared texts by Zsófia Bán, Péntek Orsolya and Péter Nádas. András Imreh shared texts by Nándor Gion and László Kálnoky.


The afternoons were packed with a variety of talks. On Thursday 12 October, Csaba Károlyi, critic at the periodical Élet és Irodalom, gave a rundown of his most significant books of 2017's Book Week, including Andrea Tompa's Omerta, Gábor Vida's Egy dadogás története ('The Story of a Stammer'), István Kemény's Lúdbőr ('Goosebumps'), and Zsófi Kemény's Rabok tovább ('Go on looting') to name a few.


Csaba's densely concise summary prepared us for that evening's conversation between Sarolta Dezcki and Andrea Tompa. The author spoke about her movement into fiction, and about her latest novel Omerta. The novel tells the story of four separate narrators in succession one after the other: a woman from Székhely, a girl from Cluj-Napoca, a nun, and a man who breeds rose. Dezcki commented on the meticulous description in the novel of the practice of rose-breeding, and the author replied that she felt she couldn’t approach a symbol as culturally loaded as a rose from a scholarly or intellectual starting point, i.e. from the top down, and felt it much more natural for her to approach from the bottom up, with the pratice and earthy qualities of rose-breeding.


Mátyás Juhász's conversation with theatre director Árpád Schilling on Wednesday 11 October was another highlight. The director of A Harag Napja (‘The Day of Fury’) talked about the differences he had noticed between contemporary theatre in Hungary and Poland, where he has recently directed. He commented that Polish theatre companies individually were admirably united, especially in the face of political threat, and would readily admit and defend the intentions behind their productions. Similarly, László Potozky spoke to Melinda Vasari about the need for literature to reflect the world we live in, or as he put it, ‘contemporary history’.


Krisztina Tóth was interviewed by Móna Dánél largely about her new collection of flash fiction Párducpompa (‘Leopard Chic’). The new collection is a selection box of powerful and poetic minute-length reflections built on moments witnessed around the city. When asked about her attitude to literature, and how she sees the state of literature today, Tóth responded: “In the 90s I took a literary translation seminar with László Lator, and that was really important because besides mastering the techniques of the trade we felt actual pleasure. Literature is first and foremost sensory pleasure – which we should never forget. Pleasure and play. Lator was the last to advocate that and resisted all forms of competitive attitudes. There are plenty who want to achieve something with writing; social honour, status, perhaps. If literature becomes an instrument for that, it’s a problem.”


The final two days of the translation camp were dedicated to young adult and children’s fiction, and poetry. Dóra Péczely spoke to Borbála Szabó about her novel Nincsenapám, seanyám (‘Nofather normother’), about a teenage girl who’s struggling under the burdens of her mother’s alcoholism, her parents’ divorce, her harassing stepfather and a fail in literature class, when in her imaginary world the writers Karinthy and Kosztolányi appear in the form of two cats, and give help her out with her literature tests. While on the last night of the camp, the poets Orsolya Fenyvesi, Kornélia Deres, Gábor Mezei and Mónika Ferencz read from their poetry and spoke on a wide range of topics from trauma, to the experience of the other and the treatment of the ‘self’.