What was the experience working with the book’s translator, Richard Philcox, like, given that he also happens to be your husband? How closely did you work together on the English edition? Did you offer any specific guidance or advice? Were there any surprising moments during your collaboration or joyful moments or challenges?
I have often said that working with my husband and translator, we become intimate enemies. For me, I feel dispossessed of my work when it is translated, but I confess that I am always excited to be introduced to the English-speaking world. We both work apart, except for Richard’s occasional questions, and I feel confident that his translation is a faithful mirror of the French text.
Why do you feel it’s important for us to celebrate translated fiction?
Because translation has always been treated like a poor cousin and needs to be recognised in the literary landscape. The International Booker Prize is ‘the royal road to cross-cultural understanding and literary enrichment’, if I may quote from Mark Polizotti’s Sympathy for the Traitor: A Translation Manifesto.
If you had to choose three works of fiction which have inspired your career the most, what would they be and why?
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, because she touched my heart and mind when I was a child in Guadeloupe thus proving the force and magic of literature. Consequently, I adapted it into a Caribbean setting under the title La Migration des coeurs in French and Windward Heights in English.
Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy, for the same reasons as above.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, because it was the first book I read on the ravages of colonisation.