NEA: How do you balance your own creative voice with the voice of the source text when translating?
MANDELL: That’s a very good question, one I’m not sure I know how to answer. I think a translator is a lot like a medium: you have to sort of empty yourself out before you begin translating a text. I try to get in the way of the text as little as possible, and I try to ‘listen’ to the narrative as I’m translating, so that the narrator’s own voice is conveyed in the words. I don’t always agree with the way something is worded or with the choice of certain imagery, but I try not to let my own opinions get in the way of the writing. In essence, as translator I try not to have any creative voice, and instead let the text speak through me. Some writers think writing is a kind of listening to an inner voice. For a translator, the “inner voice” is out there—it’s the text itself.