Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Samar Attar

Samar Attar was born in Damascus (Syria). She has studied Comparative Literature in Syria, Canada and the United States, worked in Algeria, West Germany and Australia and is married to a German. Samar explains that being surrounded by so many different languages, makes it hard to tell which is your mother tongue (see Attar 2005, p. 132).
Attar started to self-translate because she had a hard time to get her novel Lina: A Portrait Of A Damascene Girl - written in Arabic - published. (see Attar 2005, p. 133). She sees the act of self-translation as a "response to continuous attempts to stifle and silence my voice as a novelist.The act of self-translation has made me visible and has given me a voice which I was denied as a writer in Arabic". (Attar 2005, p. 134) Self-translation also helps her to keep her Arabic language alive but overall "censorship was and still is the reason that forced me to use translation as a strategy to assert my voice as a writer". (Attar 2005, p. 141).
Concerning the discussion of the terms orginal/translation she states:
"Self translators cannot reproduce in one language what they have created in another. Ultimately, what they produce through self translation is a complementary literary text which does not simply echo the original, but has its own echo and effect in the target language and culture. Unlike conventional translation contexts, self translators do not usually engage in the two-stage process of reading-writing activity (their reading activity is of a different nature), but rather in a double writing process. Thus, their translated text becomes a version or a variant of the original text, indeed an original work in its own right." (Attar 2005, p. 139)

For further reading:
Attar, Samar (2005): Translating the exiled self. Reflections on translation and censorship. In: Intercultural Communication Studies XIV:4, p. 131–147. >> A longer version of this article appeared in Translation Review (special issue on Arabic), 65 (2003), p. 35-46.


Anonymous said...

Dear Mrs. Samar,
am an Ma student in translation at Yarmouk University in Jordan, and preparing my thesis on self-translation, and very interested to discuss with you some important issues, your self as case study, i was reading reviews on some of your own impressive writings.
i would like to know how to communicate with you to proceed if you are interested.
Best Regards,
Rakan Rawashdeh

Michael Wise said...

Dear Samar Attar,

I am writing to you from New Vessel Press in New York to let you know about a magnificent novel by Lebanese writer Charif Majdalani, entitled Moving the Palace, that we're bringing out on April 11.

Here's a bit more about it:

At the dawn of the 20th century, a young Lebanese adventurer leaves the Levant to explore the wilds of Africa, encountering an eccentric English colonel in Sudan and enlisting in his service. In this lush chronicle of far-flung adventure, the military recruit crosses paths with a compatriot who has dismantled a sumptuous palace in Tripoli and is transporting it across the continent on a camel caravan. The protagonist soon takes charge of this hoard of architectural fragments, ferrying the dismantled landmark through Sudan, Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula, attempting to return to his native Beirut with this moveable real estate. Along the way, he encounters skeptic sheikhs, suspicious tribal leaders, bountiful feasts, pilgrims bound for Mecca and T.E. Lawrence in a tent. This is a captivating modern-day Odyssey in the tradition of Bruce Chatwin and Paul Theroux.

As the award-winning director and actor and author of Just Fly Away and The Longest Way Home Andrew McCarthy says: “Charif Majdalani has a ripping yarn to tell and tells it with a raconteur’s bravura. Transporting, wholly engaging, deeply moving. This book is why I travel and why I read.”

Antoine Volodine, author of Minor Angels and Naming the Jungle, calls it “one of the most beautiful epics I’ve ever read.”

“Moving the Palace is an eloquent, captivating excursion through a Middle East history that is more relevant today than ever. Majdalani is a major storyteller and a novelist with conscience who writes the past with transnational awareness.”— Rawi Hage, author of De Niro’s Game and Cockroach

I'd be happy to send you a copy if you'll let me know your mailing address.

Michael Wise
Cofounder, New Vessel Press