Anakana Schofield, novelist and writer in residence at Simon Fraser University, has a deep-seated love of contemporary Latin-American literature.
Widely known for the novels Malarky and Martin John, the writer is now setting her sights on highlighting the translated-literature scene through an SFU event with translator Katherine Silver on Friday (June 1).
“We don’t really have much locally around translation,” Schofield tells the Straight over the phone. “Especially if you’re interested in language, you cannot possibly be uninterested in translation and the implications of it.”
Readers experience two layers of translated works, as they consume both the original author’s text and the translator’s attempt to capture that in a different language. Crafting accurate, artistic translations is an art that’s difficult to master.
“You sort of form a kind of relationship with the person because you’re so grateful for the translator. If it wasn’t for the translator, you wouldn’t be able to read this work,” Schofield says.
Katherine Silver is one of the most prominent English language translators of contemporary Latin-American literature, with dozens of works under her belt. Silver lives in California and is flying up for the event.
“I know Katherine Silver from my bookshelf!” Schofield enthuses.
Though Latin America is often associated with magical realism, such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude or Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits, Schofield says that’s “passé”.
Much of the contemporary Latin-American literature Schofield loves experiments with form, living at the edges of what novels can be. She says she stayed up all night reading Silver’s translations of Mexican author Daniel Sada, and calls Literature Class by Buenos Aires’s Julio Cortázar “a bit of a Bible for me”.
“What interests me about this literature is the ludic, the spontaneous playfulness,” Schofield says. “I draw a lot of strength from these writers.”
The event is being held at Massy Books, an independent bookstore with an art gallery, performance space, and reading room.
“Massy Books is turning into a very significant space in the city in terms of hosting these kinds of events,” Schofield says, adding that she chose the venue to help support independent arts spaces.
The evening will consist of a conversation between Silver and Schofield, readings of some of Silver’s translated texts, and an opportunity for questions from the audience after.
Schofield’s keen to emphasize the event will be very accessible for people without any prior knowledge of contemporary Latin-American literature.
“I’m a bit of a neophyte with this actual area of literature,” she says. ”Which is good! Because anybody who doesn’t know anything about it doesn’t need to worry. And then all the people who know lots more about it than I do can ask really smart questions.”
Anakana Schofield and Katherine Silver will be in conversation on Friday (June 1) at Massy Books (229 East Georgia Street), starting at 7 p.m. Admission is free.