An article about the A.S.Byatt symposium I went to

Some functionality Amazon is missing

Just something that occurred to me recently while I was looking for this book to buy it online. (I needed it for my translation work on “The Children’s Book” that is full of references to British mythology; the book was recommended by ASB herself.) I found the book at for $70, and decided I cannot afford it. Then I entered it into my wishlist but that did not help a lot. Finally a good and kind soul checked for me and, hoorray, there it was, for $20, including shipping.

This simple story made me believe there are two important pieces of functionality that Amazon is missing.

1. There should be an option for the people to contribute small amounts towards somebody’s wishlist. Right now, if I am not mistaken, if I want to buy someone a gift from their wishlist I can only splurge for the entire book, which can be tricky if the book in question is expensive. It is much easier for 5-10 people to contribute smaller amounts. This would be especially convenient for groups of friends, relatives etc. who want to give an expensive item (think rare editions, anniversary gifts etc.)

2. There should be an option for searching “other Amazons” if the book is not at Right now you have to do it manually: go to, and so on which is a) non-intuitive and b) tedious. It would never occur to me to look at if it were not for that friend’s kindness.

Daily worries

Just got news from British Centre for Literary Translation that they are not going to sponsor my trip to Netherlands because I live in Canada and not Russia, even though I work on the Russian translation of the book. (It does not seem fair, as Canada is much farther and my travel expenses will be even higher than if I traveled from Russia, but that’s international bureaucracy for you. My publisher certainly will not sponsor my trip, and the money I get for the entire book translation are hardly going to cover the cost of the trip.) Now I’ll write to Canadian Council of the Arts and the Ontario one too. I’ll get to Leiden anyway, it’s just that it would be nice for a change to get someone sponsor the process of global cultural exchange.

A.S.Byatt, “Children’s Book”

I’m going to Netherlands in February, for A.S.Byatt “Children’s book” translators’ conference, yay!
ASB almost got the Booker’s prize for this book, but it did not happen (Hilary Mantel got it for “Wolf Hall”). But Leiden University is giving ASB a Honorary Doctor degree anyway, and we are all invited to the ceremony. We’ll probably make a trip to England (I will for sure) from Holland, to visit the V&A Museum in London, as most of the book’s plot is wrapped around the Museum. ASB promised to join us there as well!

Literary joys

I have completed translation of Terry Pratchett’s Nation (it is now being edited), and have started The Children’s Book by A.S.Byatt. It is huge – 600 pages, about the same size as Iris Murdoch’s The Philosopher’s Pupil which I have translated last year. The Children’s Book was shortlisted for Booker prize. Translators from half a dozen countries are working on it right now, and I have been included into a mailing list for The Children’s Book translators worldwide, with participation of A.S.Byatt herself. By the way, this Wikipedia article says that A.S.Byatt was actually influenced by Murdoch, and that the novelist Margaret Drabble is her sister, which  I did not know before. I read something by Drabble and I thought she writes, in fact, very much like Murdoch, but more… drab. The pun is intended. In my opinion, The Children’s Book is not like anything by Murdoch at all, at least I very much hope so. I will not survive another 600 pages of dark and depressive stuff like The Philosopher’s Pupil. The Children’s Book story is not all roses either, but at least it’s less… existential? and more lifelike. The work on it will be pure joy, anyway. Life is good.