NORLA's translator of the month: Munib Delalić

To cast some light on the importance of translators The Norwegian Literature Abroad (NORLA) have made an interview serie called “Translator of the month”, where readers get to know some of the people who translate into Norwegian. In January this was Munib Delalić who recently translated Per Pettersson’s “In Sibir” to croatian. He is originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, but has been living in Norway since 1993. In total he has translated 48 Norwegian books. Here you can read a summary of the interview published on NORLA’s webpage.

| Zagreb

How did you end up as a translator of Norwegian literature?

When I first came to Norway in the beginning of the 1980s and started studying language, I learnt by reading Norwegian authors. As a writer myself, I was mostly interested in Norwegian poetry. It all started with Rolf Jacobsen and his poetry, which I both read and tried to translate into Bosnian. I usually say I had one of the best Norwegian teachers; perhaps the greatest of all. I have translated all of Jacobsen’s work to Bosnian, and a selection of this was actually published in Bosnia. Later I did other translations and eventually I got a permanent job as translator.


Is there a Norwegian word or expression that you think is missing from your language? Or the opposite?

It is far from only one expression that is missing in our languages! Recently, the word “romjul” has been used (a Norwegian word for the time period between Christmas Eve and New Years Eve), and in our languages (Serbian, Bosnian, Montenegrin, Croatian), there is no good word for this. We have in our languages, especially Bosnian, several words that have an oriental origin and that are very emotional and heavy with meaning. It is difficult to find corresponding words in Norwegian. One of these words is “rahatluk”, which in Norwegian can mean both “good luck and fortune”, or “joy”, but in Bosnian it entails so much more than this.


What is the best aspect of being a translator?

A known author once said that writers create local literature and translators create world literature. In other words: without translators, you cannot have world literature. I agree with this. A translator builds bridges, and build bridges to the distant and perhaps unknown. Translators create understanding in the world. And that’s not too bad, is it?


And finally; do you have one norwegian book that has a special place in your heart? If yes, what makes it so special?

There are several Norwegian books that means a lot to me. Like Espedals “Against nature” and “Against art” that I translated to Croatian, and also “Walk” by the same author that I am planning on translating. He is an author after my liking, that creates personal things into literature in a special way. Another one is Jacobsen’s “All my poems” which is the first book I translated. But I think the one that means the most to me is Lars Saabye Christensen’s “The Half Brother”. Why? Because I learned so much about Oslo and Norway from that book.

Freely translated by the embassy