Monday, June 27, 2011

Counter Camouflage : Serbian urban story by Bojan Miladinovic


Incapacitating a home alarm makes you a skillful thief. Creating an alarm which can be incapacitated by special remote and installing it- makes you skillful and a very impudent thief. Branko's team for alarm installment becomes greedy, so, to avoid the jaws of the law, Branko takes the advice his old professor once gave him:" Sometimes when you don't know how to avoid danger camouflage yourself, perhaps the danger will avoid you." A few years later, he meets a girl who is crazy about medieval jewelry. Wishing to fascinate her, he tries to buy her a copy of medieval ring. However, he figures out pretty quickly that the only convincing copy is - the original. Once a thief - always a thief. Branko steals the ring from the museum, presenting it as a prefect copy. Once again, he tries to use the old trick the professor taught him, but this time he is forced to - counter camouflage.

This was an interesting book to read, full of complex personalities and a setting that has as much attitude as the characters. There were many captivating moments, although unfortunately, it suffers a bit in translation.

There are a number of syntax errors which I’m sure are not the author’s fault, but rather that translator’s. It’s a shame, really, because there seems to be a fascinating, astute novel hidden under these mistakes.

Branko, the main character, is a complicated person. He is well-crafted, fleshing out as the story goes along, and becoming a full blown person. Other characters don’t fare so well, and they become a bit of a jumble for the reader to pick apart.

The story line is a fun one, with an ex-thief who finds himself once more with the urge to steal, this time to impress a pretty girl. Again, the only thing that really distracts and stops this book from being a great one is the translation. If you think that wouldn’t deter you from a good story, then by all means, this one is for you.



6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Since You are Not a Serbian language native speaker, I have numerous doubts that you have actually understood what an "Urban" novel implies...Did you really expect Ekrem to speak BBC English...did you really think that Branko's flow of thoughts would be a consistent one? This is not a descriptive, but an urban novel...grammatical and syntactical mistakes were made on purpose. "urban" and "correct" do not really go together in this century, do they?

LibrarySnake said...

Wow, someone's angry.
I know very well what an urban novel implies, and while they do use stream of thought (that's what it's called, by the way) they do make sense. It should not matter if I am a Serbian native speaker. If it really makes that much of a difference, then don't translate the novel. This translation is not a good one, sorry. You can be "urban" and sound coherent. Read Sapphire or Walter Dean Myers and you'ss see what I mean.
Many times in this particular novel, the third person narrator, not talking about dialogue here, had words mispelled or phrases that made little to no sense, and in my opinion that was not done on purpose. What author would want to sounds like a babbling idiot? Which is why I blame the translator. Mispellings are the translator's fault. I'm not asking for BBC English, I'm asking for a novel that makes sense and that doesn't confuse the reader with errors.
Besides, as far as I know, this is my view of the book, and I have the perfect right to state what I felt was wrong with it. Write your own review and then we'll talk.

Anonymous said...

of course...you have the right to say whatever you please...but when you say that the syntax is wrong- you compare it to..WHAT? translation implies 2 languages...you should know both of them in order to: 1. give yourself the right to state that a translation is bad, 2. to say that syntax in particular is bad.... when you do not know the syntax in original text....or am I wrong again

LibrarySnake said...

If I read a book that was translated, let's say, from Russian and it just sounds off, (pronouns are in the wrong place, etc. )then I do have the right to say the translation was a bad one, even if I don't know the original language. A translation is supposed to be just that, it's supposed to make the reader understand what the author wants to say. One that fails at that, is a bad one in my view. It doesn't matter that I don't speak Serbian, the translator should be the one making it easier. The reader should not have to sit there trying to pick some meaning from the strange syntax that makes no sense, even in an urban novel.
All cultures have slangs and ways of messing with syntax in a way that is hip and cool and all that, but if it leaves the reader shaking his or her head because it's like trying to put a puzzle together, then it's either very badly written (which I don't think is the case here) or the translation is not doing its job of erasing the language barriers.
And when it comes to what I compare it to, well, pretty much every translated novel, urban or otherwise, that I've ever read. There are a number of translations that are recommended over other ones pertaining to the same book, so obviously there is a level of "correctness" to be expected from the translator. There are good ones and there are bad ones, and, again, in my opinion, this one is a bad one.

Anonymous said...

please provide your e mail address...no need to write this here...

LibrarySnake said...

If you really want it, here it is:

valca85(at)aol(dot)com