Alex Fouillet - Translator of the Month

Our Translator of the Month for July is Alex Fouillet, who translates both fiction, including crime novels, and non-fiction from Norwegian to French. During his studies at Sorbonne University, he became acquainted with Norwegian texts and especially liked the excerpts from the Varg Veum novels so much that he decided to translate one of the books, initially on his own, soon helped by his close friend Elisabeth Tangen. That’s when the adventure truly began. Since then, he has translated over seventy books, mainly Norwegian crime fiction novels, but also other genres and a few books from Danish and Swedish. Alex currently lives in Caen, where he also teaches at the Nordic Department at the University of Caen.

Fouillet, alex photo
Alex Fouilet. Photo: Pierre-Marie Puaud, France Télévision, Caen.

Alex takes over the Translator of the Month baton from his Catalan colleague Carmen Freixanet, and she also asked him the following two questions:

“What do you think is the best thing about being a translator?”

A fascinating question that would require a multi-page answer, as there are so many good (or best) reasons to work as a translator. The very best is perhaps the freedom this activity provides; it is wonderful to be able to work when, where, and with whom one wants, but perhaps especially how one wants. As far as I know, there are very few professions that allow for such flexibility. And of course, the excellent experiences that come with the activity must also be mentioned: travels, meetings, communication, and teaching…

“Which of the books you have translated has given you the most joy?”

Definitely the Varg Veum novels by Gunnar Staalesen. They are extremely exciting, well-written, really funny, and full of interesting elements that allow anyone to gain insight into Norwegian society over the last few decades. The joy is actually twofold; first when discovering a new novel in the series, and then when it’s time to translate it. The way the translations of these novels have been received by readers is, of course, also a great pleasure.

Staalesen begravde hunder biter ikke french 2009 9782847201468
"Dead Dogs Don't Bite" (original title: "Begravde hunder biter ikke") by Gunnar Staalesen in Alex's translation.

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Learn more about Alex on Books from Norway.

Those of you who understand Norwegian can read his interview in full here.

Other translators interviewed in the Translator of the Month series.