“The Translator Writes Back” is a Tumblr blog on which translators can post their responses to reviews of their work. It has so far one entry, from Alison Entrekin, translator from Portuguese. But oh man, what an entry … It isn’t the dismissal here that stings — all reviewers have the right to say that some words and lines and books are better than others. It’s [the reviewer’s] automatic location of the fault in the translation, without any reference to the original. It is actually an easy problem to solve, even the space of a short review: you just say whether or not you have read the original, and if you haven’t, make that clear. And then go forward with your critique. Without parceling out praise to the author and blame to the translator in a kind of “giveth with one hand, taketh away with the other” move.
In the past, a translator’s options for responding to a review like this would have been limited: a letter to the editor, grousing on Facebook, perhaps an email to the reviewer. The fact that “The Translator Writes Back” exists feels like an indication that another stage has been reached in translators’ visibility, and in making these discussions basically more intelligent and less lazy. That Entrekin signs off her letter “Faithfully” (was this deliberate? how could it not have been?) only sweetens the situation.