A Brouhaha In Any Language

Novelist John Connolly disagrees with the Crime Writers Association’s decision to disqualify "translated" crime novels from competing for the Silver Dagger, the UK equivalent of the MWA’s Edgar:

To those of us with a slightly cynical bent, it seemed that the main
reason why this decision was made was because translated novels have
been doing rather well in the Daggers in recent years, and ruffling
some feathers in the process. After all, it’s hard enough to win a
Dagger without Johnny Foreigner coming along and spoiling the party.
Lots of nice British and American authors, who speak and write proper
English, would rather like a dagger for themselves, not to mention the
whopping £20,000 cheque that will find its way into the pocket of the
victor in 2006.

He also takes a swipe at fellow crime writer Val McDermid’s stance in support of excluding translations:

Val McDermid – usually a fairly sensible type – offered her support for
exclusion by pointing out that if Peter Hoeg’s rather wonderful Miss Smilla’s Feeling For Snow had been read in its American version rather than its English version, then it might not have seemed so wonderful after all.

Now there really are only three appropriate responses to this. The
first is “Huh?” The second is to enquire just where exactly she
acquired her degree in comparative literature. The third, meanwhile, is
to wonder exactly how much Danish she speaks and reads to enable her to
make this kind of judgement. Curiously, McDermid was also one of those
who provided approving quotes for Silence of the Grave.
She described it as “a fascinating window on an unfamiliar world”,
albeit the type of window that she and her colleagues were apparently
happy to see closed in order to facilitate the future marginalisation
of foreign authors.

I think it’s incredibly wrong-headed of the CWA to exclude translated works from award consideration. The Mystery Writers of America and even the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes regularly honor works of crime fiction from other countries that are published in English in the U.S.  The CWA’s literary xenophobia  doesn’t reflect well on their organization or the Silver Daggers.

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