Le French Book lets more readers in on story

Durango resident translates top literature from France

Anne Trager shows off the e-book format of The 7th Woman and promotional cards for Treachery in Bordeaux and The Paris Lawyer, the first three titles that she’s translated from French into English for her new venture, Le French Book. Enlarge photo

JOSH STEPHENSON/Durango Herald

Anne Trager shows off the e-book format of The 7th Woman and promotional cards for Treachery in Bordeaux and The Paris Lawyer, the first three titles that she’s translated from French into English for her new venture, Le French Book.

When the French say things like “je ne sais quoi,” we get it, but we can’t quite put it into words of our own. But that’s exactly the job for which Anne Trager has signed up.

Trager is a part-time Durango resident who spends most of her life in Toulouse, France, with her husband, Fabrice Neuman. He’s French, she’s American.

When she reads books in France, she reads them in French. But a few years ago, it occurred to her that maybe some of her American friends would enjoy some of those French books, too, if only they could read them.

From such inspiration are great entrepreneurial ideas born. Trager has founded Le French Book, a digital-first publisher of French books translated into English.

Many best-sellers in France, especially popular genres like crime fiction, are never translated out of the language. So Trager began by picking and choosing a few of her favorite whodunits and making them available to English language readers.

“I’m going to bring the books over that I like to read,” Trager said.

She’s already translated three books: The 7th Woman by Frederique Molay (whom some call “the French Michael Connelly), The Paris Lawyer by Sylvie Granotier and Treachery in Bordeaux by Jean-Pierre Alaux, which also was a made-for-TV series on French television.

As if translating novels into another language doesn’t sound challenging enough, there are the aforementioned nuances of language that make word-for-word translations impossible. For example, in translating Treachery in Bordeaux, Trager had to overcome the fact that the French have five words for “wine barrel.”

“If there are two or three different uses in one sentence, I have to change that sentence so as not to use ‘wine barrel’ three times in the same sentence. It gets tricky,” Trager said, aware of the irony of having used “sentence” three times in one sentence.

Trager works with an editor in Ohio, Amy Richards, who does not speak French. She says that works in the duo’s favor as Richards need only concentrate on ensuring that the book makes sense in English independent of the original version.

“I don’t want anything culturally different to hold up the readers so it’s important that Amy understands it. Then, I know the readers will, too,” Trager said.

Trager said she hopes to translate about 10 books a year. She said she has no immediate plans to offer print versions of the translated books, which are now available on e-reader platforms like Kindle, Nook and iPad.

ted@durangoherald.com

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