The OF Blog: Apparently Andrzej Sapkowski has won the first Gemmell Award

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Apparently Andrzej Sapkowski has won the first Gemmell Award

Or at least that's what Ken from Neth Space is reporting, as he received word via twitter from people who apparently are in the know.

This makes me rather happy, as out of the finalists, his Geralt novel, Blood of the Elves, is the only one that I liked without reservations. Nice timing on learning about this, as I received my copy of his second series, the Hussite Wars trilogy-opening Narrenturm, yesterday afternoon. While it'll have to be a while before I review it (I have another Spanish-language book I'm reading and reviewing, as well as me being in the midst of translating a recent interview with that second author), I do plan on reading it this weekend and early next week.

But still, it's good to know that this work of "heroic" fantasy was chosen to be the winner. I guess the millions in Europe and the thousands in the Anglo-American sphere have spoken, huh?

16 comments:

Vanin said...

Well, as far as I'm concerned this was "rigged". Plenty of fans here voted for AS, even though they've never seen the English language edition of the books :/

Not something one can be proud of and happy about...

Larry said...

I suppose you're right, but I think the entire concept risked that from any number of "interest groups" that would vote based only on one author. That's the danger inherent in having an internet poll being the basis for an award, I suppose.

That being said, I had read three of the five finalists (and own the other two books) and Sapkowski's was the only one that I liked without some reservations. I suppose a vote/URL breakdown might be forthcoming?

Cheryl said...

I'm not sure that not having read the English version precludes one from voting. The English version is a requirement for eligibility, but unless the English translation is totally different to the original then having read the original should give you a good idea of how good the book is.

Of course there's a question as to whether people voting from Poland bothered to read the rest of the short list.

Larry said...

I agree, Cheryl. I would have voted for it even though I first read it in Spanish before it was released in English, so it might just be a case of voting for the devil one knows best...although I'd be curious to know the country breakdown for the votes.

Ellestra said...

@Vanin I was actually surprised - after all no matter how many Poles voted we still were probably greatly outnumbered by the English speaking participants who voted for their favourite authors.

@Larry You should really like the Hussite Wars trilogy. It is a very rooted in history with just some supernatural elements. And I loved the ending. I think Sapkowski's endings are great in going against fantasy reader's expectations and habits. And I love him for that.
And BTW did you finally read last Witcher book?

Larry said...

I think I probably will end up enjoying Narrenturm, as the first chapter has piqued my interest. But first a couple other books to finish...

And no, I haven't read the final Geralt book because it apparently won't be released in Spain until next year. Strange that they went ahead with Narrenturm before The Lady of the Lake.

Dark Wolf said...

I am glad that Sapkowski won. I voted for him and I am hoping that this award gives us the chance to see more of his works translated. And why not, maybe the fantasy genre will expend its boundaries and other authors from different countries will be publish in English.

zbraniecki said...

Actually, I went through both Sapkowski's books released in English and tried to compare them with Polish versions. It's extremely hard. The translation is very close to the original, but I can't say if it flows as naturally and if native speakers will feel the taste of brilliance in the way he builds sentences and the story.

I did read three out of fives nominated books, and it doesn't make me anymore objective, since Sapkowski is my favorite author, and I've grown with the witcher sage (I got the first novel of the saga when I was 9, and I read the last when I was 14).

I was hoping to see much more reviews of the English version and scanned the Internet looking for some in deep reviews, but found only a few :( Maybe now it'll get some more traction :)

Larry said...

I've read the first few books in both English and Spanish translations and while I prefer the Spanish one (my second language) to the English (my native) for how the sentences flow, I do believe it's close enough to the original as to capture much of the wordplay. However, I suspect the knowledge of certain monsters depends upon cultural differences between English and Polish mythologies, so that might play a role.

But as I said in my post, I just liked this one the best and it's good to know that the translations apparently are at least somewhat faithful to the Polish original.

Cheryl said...

@zbraniecki I thought that the English translation was very poor. There were things in it that were really awkward and would have had me guessing that it was a translation had I not already known it was. In particular you could see that Sapkowski was producing some lovely imagery and interplay between characters that didn't work well because they were badly rendered into English. I can see he's a great writer. I'd love to see a good translation of his work.

Adam Whitehead said...

"I was hoping to see much more reviews of the English version and scanned the Internet looking for some in deep reviews, but found only a few :( Maybe now it'll get some more traction :) "

ARCs seemed plentiful for THE LAST WISH but were lacking for BLOOD OF ELVES (not many were sent out, as far as I can tell), which probably had something to do with it. Annoyingly, its release coincided with me becoming unemployed, otherwise I'd have snapped it up anyway. Now it's out in mmpb, I'll see if I can pick it up.

Two years on, THE LAST WISH is my single most-commented-on review ever, which I think says a fair bit about Sapkowski's popularity and the passion of his fans.

@Cheryl

The next book has been delayed by a year, which leads me to believe that they are allowing more time for a more careful translation. I need to ask the people at Gollancz a bit more about that.

Zbigniew said...

@Cheryl: Pity :( Which country are you from? I'm wondering if it may sound more natural in, say, British over American or what... Because in at least two reviews I found people were praising the translation, while in a few others (and from some comments on amazon etc.) I see a very different picture.

I know that at least one story (not related to the Witcher, but nicely presenting Sapkowski's obsession on King's Arthur legend) has been translated by community. It's called Maladie and you can find it here: http://www.polishwriting.net/?s=author&c=sapkowski

Another story has been translated for the computer game (it's a story from The Last Wish) but I'm not sure if the book translation has been used or a separate one.

Anyway, I'm afraid that the chances are low that, having a translation already, anyone will pick up a task of re-translating it again.

@Adam: do you have any publicly available URL about the delay?

Cheryl said...

@Zbigniew I've lived in the UK, Australia and USA and I'm familiar with various different modes of English. I've also been reviewing SF for almost 14 years. I know a bad translation when I see one.

Larry said...

If any are still following this, I went back to the November 2008 archives and found this conversation on the qualities of the Spanish and English translations of Sapkowski's book. After re-reading it last month, I have to say that the Spanish translation was even better in comparison the second time through.

Ausir said...

I was rather surprised that such a new award has managed to generate this much publicity already in its first edition. Even though they still haven't updated their website with the winner announcement...

Zbigniew said...

@Cheryl: No offense! I was just conceptualizing a combination in which you find it bad and the translator is not guilty. You can't blame me for trying :)

Overall. I really hope the next book will get a better review for translation from You :)

 
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