Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A French Translation for Lovers and Strangers Revisited-- it's Official!

It’s official—the contract has been signed—Lovers and Strangers Revisited is going to be translated into French by Éditions GOPE, who specialize in Southeast Asia.  The French version will be sold mainly in France, but also in Hong Kong, Thailand and Cambodia and marginally in Switzerland and Belgium. 

(*Update: here a link to the introduction and excerpts to four of the stories, and below are links to four reviews, and where to order books for yourself or for your friends.)

Although they’ll be using the same cover, the French title will be "Trois autres Malaisie" which literally translates as "Three Other Malaysia". As Éditions GOPE explains it, it’s a short way to say “let's discover three faces of Malaysia, the Malay, the Chinese and the Indian”.  (Living in Sarawak, I’m aware that is not true, but it is for most of Peninsular Malaysia.)   

The main reason for the title change is because the book will be a part of a series of three books. Trois autres Thaïlande by Etienne Rosse is the first book, already published, mine will be the second book, and the third will be about the Philippines. What these books have in common is that they’re collections of short stories that are mainly portraits of the people in the countries where they are set.

As you can see, when you compare the Thai book to mine, there’s even a one eye motif on the two covers.  Éditions GOPE has already set up a website/blog for Trois autres Malaisie similar to what they’ve done for the Thai book.

Translating it into French will add about 20% to the length, so two stories may have to be dropped.  For now we’re considering “Waiting” and “Dark Blue Thread” (since it deals with issues that are similar to “Only in Malaysia”, one of the two stories added to the MPH 2008 edition). *(update) I just found out that a third story will be dropped, "Transaction In Thai" since it is set in Thailand, though a French translation is being used for promotional purposes in Thailand.  

Yes, I will be re-editing the stories again; several have already been done in my on-going efforts to publish more of the stories in the US market.  No, I won’t be translating my story-behind-the-story blog series into French.  Then again, who knows?  
For an extra Malaysian touch, the French translator, Jerome Bouchaud has written a guidebook on Malaysia "Malaisie - Modernité et Traditions en Asie du Sud-Est", and is based here in Langkawi.

Guide Malaisie - Traditions et modernité en Asie du sud-estI’m hoping all of this will lead to the English version of LSR to finally break away from Malaysia/Singapore to a much wider audience, as have many of the individual stories including “On Fridays” recently published in Cha one of the two stories that initially attracted their attention.)

So the legacy of the original collection, Lovers and Strangers, published way back in 1993 by Heinemann Asia for their “Writing in Asia Series” continues to grow. . . .As of now, the collection has been published three times in English, and the 17 short stories set in Malaysia have been published 78 times in 11 countries, taught in SPM literature, several universities and private colleges, and the MPH edition even won the 2009 Popular-The Star Readers Choice Awards.  Not too bad, and now it’s getting translated and going to France!  

So it looks like Mrs. Koh  from “Neighbors” will soon be gossiping and bad-mouthing people in French!  There goes the neighborhood.

Here is the new cover:

*Update: Book orders for Trois autres Malaisie   E-book orders.  Or recommend it to your friends, especially those who would like to know more about Malaysia or have an interest in Southeast Asia.
Here's a link to the intro and excerpts, and to four reviews of Trois Autres Malaisie in,,, and Petit Futé mag.

**Here’s an update to the French blog about Trois autres Malaisie and my involvement in a French documentary for Arte (June 2017) on The Sensual Malaysia of Somerset Maugham.

***Update, the 20th anniversary of Lovers and Strangers Revisited

Here are links to some of my author-to-author interviews of first novelists:

Ivy Ngeow author of Cry of the Flying Rhino, winner of the 2016 Proverse Prize.

Golda Mowe author of Iban Dream and Iban Journey.

Preeta Samarasan author of Evening is the Whole Day

Chuah Guat Eng,  author of Echoes of Silence and Days of Change. 


Beheaded on Road to Nationhood: Sarawak Reclaimed—Part I 


Bonnie Buchanan said...

I can't wait to share this with our French professor on campus.
Congratulations! We are very happy for you.
Miss you guys.

Borneo Expat Writer said...

Thanks Bonnie! I just added a link to the French blog and the new French translation to The World of Suzie Wong. I'll add it here, too.

chris said...

Nice post.This book was so lovely.It should have been translated in different languages.French translation or in any translation it would be a blast.Translating book shows the rich blend of knowledge and culture in a society.It is important that books written in a foreign language since it helps one to get acquainted with the thoughts, traditions, principles and actions of the people from the region.

Borneo Expat Writer said...

Thanks. You're right, translations opens new worlds to others. We all benefit; we all learn.