BEL OLID (Mataró, 1977)
Writer, translator, and literature and creative writing teacher. They are known for their intense translation activity into Catalan and into Spanish, especially of children's literature. They translate from German, Spanish, French, English, and Italian. They have received many literary awards, such as the Premio Documenta (2010).
They became known as an author in 2010 when they received the Documenta Prize for their novel Una terra solitària (Empúries, 2011). Bel Olid has never stopped publishing and translating all sorts of works. Among their production, the main genre is young andult and children's literature, about which they have written some theoretical reflections, such as Les heroïnes contraataquen (Pagès Editors, 2011), Premi Rovelló, an essay on gender roles in children's literature. They have also worked as an essayist with key works in the discussion of feminism, such as Feminisme de butxaca, kit de supervivència (Angle Editorial, 2017) or Follem? (Bridge, 2019)
In 2020 they published A contrapel (Capitán Swing, 2020), their last contribution to the feminist debate and in 2021 Suite TOC (Ara Llibres, 2021), which advocates for the fight against the taboo of mental illness. As a translator, Bel Olid has brought into Catalan Problemes de gènere (Angle Editorial, 2021) [Gender Trouble], by Judith Butler, one of the fundamental works in the theory of feminism.
Bel Olid regularly collaborates in many branches of the cultural media and written press. They were president of CEATL (European Council of Literary Translators' Associations, 2013-2015), and, from March 2015 to March 2022, president of Associació d'Escriptors en Llengua Catalana (AELC – Association of Catalan Language Writers).
The importance of understanding: privilege and incomprehension in the field of translation
In the last years, there’s been more and more debate about the position from which certain texts are translated. The criticism of Janice Deul when a white person was chosen to translate Amanda Gorman’s texts into Dutch resulted not only in Marieke Lucas Rijneveld’s refusal to translate them but also in the Catalan translation by Victor Obiols not being published.
Beyond questioning if “a man can translate a woman” or whether or not “a person who does not suffer racism can translate a racialized person”, what’s the impact of the translator’s privilege on the understanding of the original texts? What mechanisms can be established to prevent the distance between the translator’s and writer’s experiences from hindering an optimal translation?