Milen Ruskov on the Art of Translation

When did you start translating?
In 2001, I even remember the month – January.

What was the first literary work you translated?
For They Know Not What They Do: Enjoyment as a Political Factor by Slavoj Žižek. I actually began my career as a translator in the sphere of the humanities, and still like it very much even if I don't work in it anymore.

What are the most common difficulties in your work as a translator?
Pretty simple: the language itself, and its figures.

Could you tell us something about the influence an author, an editor or a publisher can exert over your translation?
The influence of the author? Well, everything is under the influence of the author. As for the publishers, obviously they decide what to publish and when, and sometimes other things such as the title under which the book will be published, etc. I still have to meet the editor that will be of real use for my translations. It seems to be something located in the distant future.

What makes a good translation?
Fidelity, both in meaning and style as well as the richness and colour of the language you translate into (which is a vital part of the fidelity in style). For this purpose, it is much more important to know the resources of your native language and feel free in its usage.

What were your greatest challenges with the translation (s) which won the award?
Speaking of Martin Amis, let's say he has a kind of highly idiosyncratic language that is both colloquial and skillful, artful (or should I say art-full?, to pun upon that word), which is very difficult to re-create into another language, and in some cases outright impossible, so you have to decide which is the best compromise. And it's a difficult and repetitive decision.

Do you consider yourself as a co-author?
No. Translators are not co-authors because they don't play with their own imagination. It's a very important difference.

Does translating inspire you to write yourself?
Yes, although I began writing before translating. It's all a kind of living with and in literature, at least for me. They are the two parts of my literary whole, my literary existence.