Bettina Bach will be in Germany on December 3, where she will read and talk about her German translation of Tommy Wieringa’s Saint Rita at the University of Münster. She will also speak with translator Eva Profousova, who translated the novel Ein empfindsamer Mensch by the Czech author Jáchym Topol.
Both novels are about people who were marginalized by politics and geography. Wieringa’s hero Paul Krüzen lives on the Dutch-German border and operates an internet trade with military videos, his life mainly takes place between the pub and the brothel. Although the heroes of Topol’s grotesque novel live only a few kilometers from Prague, their world (junkyard, brothel, coal ship, pub) is just as intricate and close as that of the Dutch figures. This particular world, the marginalized people that both authors write about, also has a linguistic and stylistic impact. This posed special challenges for the translators. On 3 December Bettina Bach and Eva Profousova read from both novels and exchange their views on content, language and their translation practice.
Paul Krüzen, the novel’s unlikely hero, is given a gift by his best friend Hedwiges: a medal of Saint Rita, the patron saint of lost causes. Like most of the men in this book, the two are solitary souls, misfits at odds with the modern world. In this majestic novel, Tommy Wieringa not only returns to the rural sensibilities of his barnstorming breakthrough Joe Speedboat but also unites a number of strands from his earlier work: the bonds of friendship, the loner’s battle with his surroundings, and the shadow cast by an absent mother.