Books in Spanish
The success of Go Set a Watchman has translated into success for the Spanish edition of
the book. During its first week on sale, Ve y pon un centinela was #5 on Nielsen’s list
of bestselling Spanish titles. We recently spoke with translator Marián Belmonte,
who lives in Madrid, about the challenges of rendering one of the year’s most
anticipated novels in Spanish.
Why did the publisher, HarperCollins Español, release two
different Spanish translations of the book?
We did one translation for Latin America, and then the editor from HarperCollins
adapted it for the Spanish market. We all felt it was necessary to have two versions of
the novel. This is why HarperCollins also decided to do a new translation of To Kill a
Did you also retranslate To Kill a Mockingbird?
No, we just did a version for Latin America, because the publisher already had one
Did you use the version from Spain as a starting point?
Actually, we started from scratch; we didn’t want to use the version from Spain.
We have not yet compared both editions to see how similar the translations are.
What was the most challenging aspect of translating Go Set
Translating Southern slang from a particular period was quite challenging. We also
had less than four months to complete the translation, but we worked as a team with
the editor, and that was exciting.
How did you become familiar with Southern slang and
translate that to Latin American Spanish?
For both books, we had to do extensive research on slang. But our research also
focused on [Southern] culture and society, and understanding what was happening
at that place and time. This way we were able to understand the sentiment and ideas
of the book, and that is what we focused on. We tried to do a translation in a neutral
Spanish, so we also had to be careful not use terms that might have very different
meanings from one Latin American country to the next. We try to achieve a very
THE CHALLENGES OF
TRANSLATING HARPER LEE
BY LEYLHA AHUILE
PW Talks with Marián Belmonte, translator of the
Spanish edition of Go Set a Watchman