Belfast Book Festival
How does translation transform a novel? We welcome a panel teaming writers and translators – Mayliss Besserie and Clíona Ní Ríordáin, Olivia Fitzsimons and Ilaria Oddenino – to discuss the reimaginings that come with translation.
In Scattered Love (Lilliput, May 2023) and Yell, Sam, If You Still Can (Lilliput, June 2022), Clíona Ní Ríordáin translates into English Maylis Besserie’s marvellously reimagined end-lives of Samuel Beckett and WB Yeats, Irish literary icons with intimate connections to France.
And in Le Voci Non Si Fermano, Ilaria Oddenino transforms into Italian prose the Northern Ireland idiom of The Quiet Whispers Never Stop, Olivia Fitzsimons’s darkly powerful debut novel.
Maylis Besserie was born in Bordeaux and now lives in Paris. She works as a producer for the radio channel France Culture. Besserie’s connection with Ireland started when her family sent her to spend summers in Ireland to learn English. Yell, Sam, If You Still Can (Le tiers temps) was her first novel and won Le Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman, 2020. In her second novel, Scattered Love, she turns her attention from Samuel Beckett to another iconic Irish writer, W. B. Yeats. The connection between France in Ireland is once again explored in the context of art, culture and the days at the end of life.
Olivia Fitzsimons grew up in Northern Ireland, and now lives in County Wicklow with her husband and two children. Her debut novel, The Quiet Whispers Never Stop, was shortlisted for the 2022 Kate O'Brien and Butler Literary Awards. Her writing has been awarded Literature Bursaries from the Arts Council of Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as residencies from Centre Culturel Irlandais Paris/Literature Ireland and The Dean Art Studios. Her fiction and essays have appeared in numerous publications including the Stinging Fly, Irish Times, and Banshee, and have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
Ilaria Oddenino is a lecturer and literary translator from Turin. She has translated fiction and non-fiction by modern and contemporary English-speaking authors – from Thomas Hardy and G.K.Chesterton, to Jon Ronson, John Freeman and Cal Flyn, among others – for different Italian publishers. In 2022 she worked on the Italian translation of The Quiet Whispers Never Stop by Olivia Fitzsimons, published by Atlantide Edizioni as Le Voci Non Si Fermano. She also creates and curates projects for the Turin International Book Fair.
Clíona Ní Ríordáin is a critic, translator and Professor of English at the Sorbonne Nouvelle. Her monograph, English Language Poets in University College Cork 1970-1980 (Palgrave Macmillan) was published in 2020. She translated the first two novels of Maylis Besserie’s Irish trilogy, Yell, Sam, If You Still Can and Scattered Love (Lilliput Press) and has edited three anthologies of Irish poetry, including Jeune Poésie d’Irlande: les poètes du Munster (2015), co-edited and co-translated with Paul Bensimon. The duo’s translation of Gerry Murphy's poems, Plus loin encore (Circé), appeared in 2022. She sits on the board of the Centre Culturel Irlandais.