Brighton & Hove Libraries have a small selection of books in foreign languages such as Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Russian and Swedish. The customers borrowing these books are mostly people who want to read a novel in their mother tongue, but there are also people who borrow these books because they want to improve their skills in a second or perhaps third language. Of course there might be other reasons too. Some people insist on reading books in the language they were originally written in.
I was born and grew up in Sweden, but ever since I started learning English at the age of ten I was keen on reading novels in English. Unfortunately the selection of English fiction in my local library wasn’t great so I ended up reading authors like Rosamunde Pilcher and Johanna Trollope whom were aimed at my mum’s generation. When I moved to Brightonto study English in my late teens a new world opened up to me as I could find pretty much any novel I wanted to read in the library. I had previously read Jack Kerouac’s On the Road in Swedish, but reading it in its original language was a whole other experience; it felt like the author was talking directly to me. Sometimes that immediate “connecting feeling” gets lost in translation.
I’m an author myself and write in both Swedish and English, but I find translation extremely difficult as you can’t translate a sentence word by word. My debut novel Punkindustriell Hårdrockare med Attityd (“Punk Industrial Hard Rocker with Attitude”) is available in Swedish at Hove Library.
‘When is the translation going to come out?’ my frustrated workmates ask. ‘Don’t know!’ I reply. ‘Before you learn Swedish I hope …’
Even though Scandinavian thrillers are very popular, I doubt there’s going to be a revolution of Brits learning Swedish, just for the sake of being able to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in its original language, titled Män som Hatar Kvinnor (“Men who Hate Women”). There are quite a few Swedish people in Brighton though, and every time I serve a fellow countryman, I talk him or her into borrowing my book. Even my colleagues have got into the habit of mentioning my novel if they detect a Swedish accent.
If you want to learn Swedish or perhaps Greek or Thai there is a good selection of language courses in the library.
Louise H – Library Officer
If you want to find out more about my writing, please visit my personal blog: http://louisehalvardsson.blogspot.com/
This post was written a month or so ago. Louise has since left the library service, and we wish her all the best in her new adventures, some of which can be read about here.
You can find information on how to search the library catalogue for books in other languages here (pdf).