Findings and Conclusion
The two works represent different approaches to the transfer of South African YA books into other linguistic, cultural and geographical spaces. This analysis is part of a study exploring and identifying the image created of South African YA literature, to investigate whether patterns can be discerned in the process of translation and publication. A secondary aim was to develop a replicable lens through which to approach the crossing of young adult fiction across continents, using tools of critical discourse analysis.
The two texts, and specifically their paratexts, reveal marked differences, and similarities, between the two translators and publishers. Éditions Dapper exclusively publishes works from Africa and the Caribbean in French, for both children and adults, with the aim of preserving the cultural heritage of those regions. Baobab Books is a charitable organisation with an overtly pedagogical focus, dedicated to promoting cultural diversity in children’s and young adult literature. These two goals are reflected in the way in which the two texts are packaged. The German
Crossing Continents 91 translation has far more extensive supplementary and paratextual material to assist readers and educators to use the text as a vehicle to promote discussion around universal and ethical values. By contrast, the French text was translated as a publication for adults, and limited informative and educational material is included to facilitate comprehension.
The publishers were interested in presenting events of the early 1990s to their readers to provide information and stimulate discussion of political and ethical issues. Initial investigations show that works are selected for translation based on their potential to educate and to prompt readers to reflect on these issues. The translated texts and the information provided on the authors and the content of the narrative in the accompanying paratexts situate the works firmly as South African. Preliminary studies of other translated texts reveal that this is an approach seen in other works published by different publishers and translated by various translators. The packaging of these translations contributes to creating an impression of homogeneity.
This case study of the paratexts of two novels and their translations represents a micro-view of the life of South African YA novels once they have crossed over onto another continent and into another cultural space. It has provided principles for continuing and widening the larger long-term study, which I hope will be extended in future research in order to identify patterns in the reception and representation of South African YA fiction elsewhere in the world. The study can be expanded to include other Sub-Saharan African countries that are often grouped together by those outside Africa as though they shared a history and culture, undermining the widely divergent, and often conflicting and conflicted, peoples that inhabit the continent. Such a project will contribute to greater understanding of the processes at work when transferring YA texts and the motivations of the agents involved.
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