Me and Marcel

Turkish literary magazine Sarnic OykuI was happy to hear that one of my short stories has been translated into Turkish and published in a literary magazine. I was even more tickled to see the list of names on the cover  – amid the Turkish names, a couple of foreigners. Andrew Blackman and Marcel Proust.

Don’t worry, I’m not getting delusions of grandeur. I know I’ve got a lot of work to do before I catch up with Proust in terms of literary standing. But it was nice to share a cover with him.

The story of how one of my stories came to be translated into Turkish is an interesting one. I got an email out of the blue one day last summer from a Turkish writer called Ömer Ayhan, saying that he loved my novel On the Holloway Road and wanted to meet up to get his copy signed while he was in London.

I met him for coffee at Caravan in central London one afternoon. We chatted about writing and books, and it turned out that he’d spent time in London before and knew the Holloway Road well. His writing sounds fascinating – one of his books is influenced by psychogeography, and the buildings of Istanbul have a strong effect on the characters’ emotions and actions.

Anyway I gave him a copy of one of my stories, and he said he’d see if he could get it translated and published in Turkey when he got back. A year later, voila! I am published in the pages of Sarniç Öykü. They’re sending me a copy, apparently, and I’m looking forward to seeing my words in a language of which I have absolutely no comprehension.

There’s a similarity here with my previous post How interesting projects come about – in both cases, a cup of coffee with a stranger led to an unexpected and fruitful collaboration. So the conclusion is clear: forget all the writing advice you’ve heard. The key to getting published is to drink more coffee.

By the way, there’s even talk of translating On the Holloway Road into Turkish – stay tuned…

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There are 10 comments

    1. Thanks Stefanie! Yes, it’s funny how things work out, isn’t it? Sometimes I do get things published by the straight “find publication in directory, submit work” route, but a couple of times recently it’s been through bizarre, circuitous, coincidence-laden paths…

  1. This is wonderful, Andrew! Congratulations! I love coffee 🙂 I loved the title of your post – the company you keep is amazing! It cannot get any better than Marcel Proust! Are you planning to put together a collection of your short stories as one book? I would love to read them.

    1. Ah, you like coffee? You are all set for a successful writing career!

      I’d like to do a short story collection one day, but would like to accumulate a LOT of stories first and only choose the absolute best from among them, so it won’t be for a while yet. Thanks for saying you’d like to read them!

  2. I am as sure as it is possible to be that Proust would have got a kick out of you, too. He was sensitive and sociable and I think you would have got along nicely. 🙂 Fantastic news about the story being translated. As I may have mentioned, I’m friends with Ali Smith, and she was telling me that she’d never learned so much about her writing as over the course of various translations. The questions she’d been posed, in order for the translator to stay closest to her meaning, had made her look afresh at novels she’d written.

    Oh and which publisher will bring out your new novel? I’d like to angle for a review copy, if possible!

    1. Thanks, that made me smile! Maybe I’ll meet him in the next world and get to talk at him in Proustian sentences, see how he likes it. Then again, he’s probably heard that one before.

      That’s interesting about translations – yes, I bet it really makes you think about the exact meaning of your words. For this one it was just a short story and I haven’t had much contact with them, but I can imagine that when translating a novel, they’d have lots of questions. So much of writing is unconscious, playing with shades of meaning, and it must be hard to convert that into the sort of solid, logical stuff that a translator would need.

      The next novel is from Legend Press, same as the first one. Of course you can have a review copy – I’m flattered that you asked. I’ll let them know to send you one, as soon as it exists!

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