Māra Valpētere - Translator of the month for September

September’s translator of the month is Māra Valpētere from Latvia, who translates from Norwegian. She has studied history, English philology and language teaching methodology at the University of Latvia, “The foundation course in Norwegian language and literature for foreign learners”, followed by a one-year program in Nordic languages and literature at the University of Oslo. Māra worked for a number of years as a Norwegian teacher at the Latvian Academy of Culture, and on several different Norwegian courses. She also works as a tour guide, an interpreter at conferences and seminars, and as an examiner of complaints for the Translator Accreditation Exam at the Norwegian School of Economics.

Mara web
Māra Valpētere

How do you approach a translation? Do you go straight to the translating in order to maintain a sense of tension in relation to the text, or do you read the entire book thoroughly before getting started?

I never read books that I’m translating beforehand. It’s something I didn’t “dare” admit to in the past because in the translation classes we were told that you have to acquaint yourself with the author’s writing style, immerse yourself in the book and understand the characters, etc. But now I realise that I’m not alone. I like the first “taste” of a book and the first spontaneous reactions. If there are any misunderstandings at the beginning, I can easily correct them later – after all, I write on a computer not by hand. But sometimes I might get so curious and impatient to find out who the story’s “villain” is that I break my principle and flick through the book to find out.

3 bok oversetter forfatter 2012
Māra Valpētere and author Kari F. Brænne at a book launch in Riga in May 2012

Read more

Those of you who understand Norwegian can read Māra’s Translators of the Month interview in full here

Learn more about Māra on Books from Norway

See Māra and translator Kari F. Brænne from the 2012-launch of the novel Under the Deep Shadows (original title: Under de dype skyggene av løvtunge trær) here – in Norwegian and Latvian

Other translators interviewed in our Translator of the Month series