We asked Sophie Weiner for her translator’s view of next Consortium Thriller: The Shiro Project by David Khara, another action-packed adventure about how history is still with us today. Keep your eyes peeled for more about it soon.
- What made you excited about this assignment?
After reading the first book in the series, The Bleiberg Project (translated by Simon John), to discover the plot and get a sense of the series’ style and tone, I was immediately hooked. The story itself is fascinating. I love of how Khara blends fact and fiction, and while the series addresses some very heavy topics (the use of WMDs, war crimes, human medical experimentation, etc.) all based on actual historical events, he balances these dark moments with lighter, comical scenes set in the present day. I also like how his characters are nuanced and relatable. Often times, “super hero” style stories have clear-cut good guys and bad guys with no shades of gray. The best storyteller to challenge this notion, in my opinion, is David Simon with The Wire (granted I may be a little biased being from Baltimore) as the showrunner/head writer examines every aspect of the system, so that we find ourselves sympathizing with drug dealers and reprimanding corrupt police officers. And I think in the Consortium Thriller series, Khara is also successful in his realistic portrayal of the wide range of contradicting characteristics that may exist within a single human being, and he has us reconsidering all our preconceived beliefs about people, especially with Elena, whose backstory helps give us insight into her motivations. On top of that, the series is much more than just pure entertainment as Khara grounds it in social commentary, leaving the reader with a lot to think about long after he/she has finished the three books.
- On the topic of nuanced characters, who is your favorite character in the series?
Definitely Eytan. There’s so much I love about him. He’s the strong, resilient, mysterious type who, despite his many heroic accomplishments, has managed to stay humble and grounded. And much like Dexter, he’s a killer with a code. But he isn’t perfect. Like everyone, he has his weaknesses and has made his share of past mistakes.
- Why translate this book into English for a US audience. Why do you think Americans in particular will enjoy this book?
Khara has stated that he was highly influenced by American movies, music, and general US culture when writing this series and it definitely shows, so in that respect, Americans can easily relate to the cultural references as well as the fast-paced action-movie feel to it. It’s also very interesting to read about events concerning the US as written by a non-American. Sometimes to get a better sense of your own country, you need an outsider’s perspective.
- Did you face any other challenging passages?
In one passage, Elena quotes the poem “If” by British writer Rudyard Kipling because it reminds her of Eytan. Unfortunately, the French translation of the poem (by André Maurois) as seen in Khara’s text was very loose, but I think Anne and I came up with a solution that maintains the spirit of Elena’s intent.
- Any fun facts about the process you would like to share?
I’m not used to reading about lots of fight sequences, so they must have seeped into my subconscious because while working on this book I had many action-packed dreams!