FROM ISOLATION TO REINVENTION
Fight Club. Ok I know first rule and in fact second rule of Fight club is to not talk about Fight club…so sorry we can’t talk about Fight Club. We can talk about its creator though…If you read some of his quotes I share with this post, these will make you say…this guy….
His name is Chuck Palahniuk, a writer who knows how to deliver a literary liver shot, this is because his writing is different...simple but greatly evocative and it could even be described as pungent.
At first the images created by his words are raw and graphic…reading them may even make you feel a bit uneasy. But really behind all of that you will find thought-provoking messages, emotions and reflections that expose the darkness of our reality in a way, like he proclaims…that goes to your gut.
I think that any author that looks to work beyond boundaries, looks at society’s issues and presents them creatively in such a clever, compelling and provocative way is highly fascinating from a writing point of view. It makes you position yourself in a different mind and angle that stimulates you to learn more about others, society and thus yourself too.
Chuck Palahniuk’s work belongs to the literary genre of transgressive fiction, a genre that deals with taboo subjects like drugs, sex, violence, incest and crime and whose characters feel confined by the expectations of society and so use illicit ways to break free from these. The rebellious behaviour of the characters seems nihilistic, anti-social, mentally ill and disturbed, making you feel uncomfortably provoked and impacted.
What happens now if you are the translator working with this type of text?
As a translator you become a chameleon, you seek to represent the author’s style and identity in another language, you become the author’s voice. This could be challenging for a translator to write in a way that is very different and foreign to their own style, especially when the style can be so profane, gritty and graphic.
But this is one of those fascinating challenges you experience in translation. You read your text multiple times and conduct intensive research to ensure that you get to grips with the story, the characters, all the hidden layers, meanings, history, socio cultural references and the author themselves. It is a journey into the author’s mind that helps you see and understand the carefully placed chain of events and words within the story.
Chuck Palahniuk mentioned in one his interviews that the majority of his work is journalism, not invention and this resonated with me due the amount of research I have done for the book I am currently translating, a book born out of a frustrating dead end the author had reached when writing another book.
The author had dedicated numerous nights to relentless research studying various theories from science, astrology, astronomy, philosophy and spirituality which led her to the tactful creation of a fragile fictional puzzle. A puzzle made of the smallest pieces, each with their own story and purposeful existence, each having a unique placement on the puzzle board. Only the careful placement of these pieces could bring the image of her efforts and her story to life. It is this dark and frustrating period that led to the creation of a new story, one born in the depths of quantum physics, a unique Black Butterfly.
“That is the real blessing of failure, it is the only thing that gives you the isolation and time to reinvent yourself” –quote from Chuck Palahniuk interview-
Failure makes you enter your own personal and internal fight club, one that takes you from isolation to reinvention...I have definitely had the chance in my personal life to learn, reinvent and grow many times! However, as a translator I also get to learn a lot from the creative work born from other people's isolation experiences and that is definitely a gift that I consider invaluable. Blessed is our failure and blessed is our isolation.
I hope you enjoyed this article, take a look at the attached images for some brilliant Chuck Palahniuk quotes from his various books. Which one is your favourite? Comment below...
1. Chuck Palahniuk’s 5 Favorite Reads, February 2019, Page Turner, Radical Reads, https://radicalreads.com/chuck-palahniuk-favorite-books/
2. Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk on his book becoming a bible for the incel movement, Ben Beaumont-Thomas, July 2018, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jul/20/chuck-palahniuk-interview-adjustment-day-black-ethno-state-gay-parenting-incel-movement