Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The Housemaid's Daughter in Italian

We have already seen the publication of an Icelandic and a Dutch translation of The Housemaid's Daughter, and I am thrilled to show you the Italian, which has just been published under the title:
La Bambina Dagli Occhi Di Cielo.

The Italian cover is really beautiful. They have presented an elegant hardback, with the title and my name embossed on the front and the spine. (I am getting more experienced with covers, now - and with book production in general. I assess the weight of the paper used, I judge the font with a critical eye, I run my finger over the cover image... this could become an obsession!)

For their cover, the Italian publishers stepped away from the traditional African scene in terracotta colours. Instead they have gone for a rather lovely picture of a little girl playing the piano, feet dangling from the piano stool. It is both innocent and also intriguing: you get the feeling that, despite the image, this child's life may end up being far from conventional.

One of the first things I do when I receive a new foreign translation is to look at the Glossary at the back of the book. This is where those evocative Xhosa or Afrikaans words that are sprinkled throughout the text are explained to readers who may not be familiar with the South Africa scene. To render such words - and their distinctive meanings - into a foreign language can't be easy. For the translator it is, after all, a 3 step progression: from Xhosa to English to Italian.

Not surprisingly, I have started to notice that each language imparts its own cultural take on certain words. So... it was not unexpected that the Italian version should want to describe an item of clothing with the style we have come to admire from that country. Ada's humble doek, which in the English original is explained as a simple cloth tied around the head, sounds much more exotic as...
foulard o pezzo di stoffa da legare attorno alla testa.

Good Luck to the Italian Housemaid! Buona Fortuna!


  1. Hello Barbara! The little girl on that cover is my daughter. I was thrilled to find out my photo was being used for a novel - and one with such a compelling feel to it! I immediately ordered the version in English so I could find out more. I also gave a copy to my mother so I could have someone to discuss the with when I was done. I just finished the book today, and it's marvelous! I really loved reading about Ada's life. I'm honored to have had this opportunity to contribute (in any way) to such a meaningful project as this. My mother loved it too.
    All the best,
    Julie Daniels

  2. Hello Julie
    Have just picked up your comment, sorry not to reply sooner. I am delighted that you got in touch! I am thrilled with this cover, I think it is very evocative.
    Am very pleased that you enjoyed the book! Please keep spreading the word...
    Kind regards