Haim Watzman’s translations of non-fiction books, and articles on a wide range of subjects by well-known Israeli writers have been published in major academic journals and general periodicals such as The New Yorker and The New York Times.
Haim’s translations of Hebrew short fiction
“Heirs” by Amos Oz, The New Yorker, Jan. 22, 2007.
“Next to the Traffic Signal, Under the Streetlight,” by Nurit Kotler, Zeek, Summer 2010
Haim publishes occasional poetry translations from the Hebrew here on SoJo:
“North of Boston” by Shahar Bram
“My Wife Watches Me” by Giora Fisher
Published book translations include:
Orit Rozin, Duty and Love, Individualism and Collectivism in 1950s Israel, Brandeis University Press, in process.
Anat Helman, Young Tel Aviv: A Tale of Two Cities, Brandeis University Press, in process.
Boaz Neumann, Land and Desire in Early Zionism, Brandeis University Press, forthcoming.
Hillel Cohen, Good Arabs: The Israeli Security Agences and the Israeli Arabs, 1948-1967, University of California Press, 2010.
Yaacov Lozowick, Hitler’s Bureaucrats: The Nazi Security Police and the Banality of Evil, Continuum, 2003.
Menachem Klein, The Jerusalem Problem: The Struggle for Permanent Status, University of Florida Press, 2003.
David Grossman, Death as a Way of Life, Farrar Straus, 2003.
Igal Sarna, The Man Who Fell into a Puddle, Knopf, 2002.
Tom Segev, Elvis in Jerusalem, Metropolitan, 2002.
Tamar El-Or, Next Year I Will Know More: Literacy and Identity among Young Orthodox Women in Israel, Wayne State University Press, 2002.
Haim Watzman on Translation
As a translator who works mostly on non-fiction, I will not express an opinion here about the right, or responsibility, of a translator confronting a work of fiction to alter the original. But in non-fiction — in particular, scholarly and academic non-fiction — such alterations are not only inevitable but are in fact a sacred duty. This does not imply any disparagement of non-fiction as a genre. Quite the opposite — my opinion is that the quality of the writing in non-fiction today is in many cases much higher than that in what is termed “literature” by those for whom that term is synonymous with fiction. No writer in any field sits down to write a book or article without investing time and thought in his writing. Most of my clients consider their books to be literary works even if they are not novels or stories.
There are, however, fundamental differences between a novel and a book of non-fiction, say a work of history. A writer of fiction can choose a complex style, make use of symbols, of a variety of techniques; in short, he can impose upon his reader in all sorts of ways, and that is considered art, whether successful or unsuccessful. But a person who writes a history that no one understands misses his target. So a fundamental axiom of the translation of non-fiction is that the translator has to get the writer’s message across clearly, and sometimes that demands certain changes in the text — in its style, in its choice of words, sometimes even in its contents. So the translator of non-fiction is actually doing the work that a good editor at a respectable publishing house does — bridging between the writer and his audience, negotiating between the need of the author to express himself as he sees fit and the right of the reader to receive a comprehensible manuscript.
From: “Translating in Nabokov’s Shadow: Some Thoughts on Translating Non-Fiction,” by Haim Watzman