Karlsson speaks Belarusian

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Astrid Lindgren’s Karlsson-on-the-Roof series are now translated into Belarusian.

The Swedish Karlsson speaks Belarusian thanks to the Knigi Poshtai (Posted Books), a Minsk-based publishing project. Different from the Soviet version, Karlsson smokes a pipe and doesn’t even mention a strawberry cake. Project director Ales Yaudakha tells the European Radio for Belarus more about this initiative.

“I wouldn’t say that the original Karlsson was somewhat disgusting or harmful to children. He was the way the author created him”.

Yaudakha who spearheaded the translation of the Karlsson-on-the Roof and his Little Brother book, says this character is positive.

“Karlsson’s touchiness and nastiness that many often describe as personality problems are in fact common with all the children”.

When asked why Karlsson, Ales Yaudaha says that many of those who created this Belarusian translation were brought up by the books about this character. Contemporary kids hardly watch the Soviet cartoons.

Yaudaha: “We wanted it so much to connect our children to the world’s classics in the Belarusian language”.

When working on the project, authors tended to avoid repeating the stereotypes of the Soviet Karlsson. The character has become more Swedish and more Belarusian, apparently because the illustrations were painted by Belarusian artist Maryna Rudzko.

Yaudaha: “We also refused from the idea of using original illustrations, because we wanted to attach a Belarusian pattern to Karlsson and other characters. Our Belarusian Karlsson is more good-natured and perhaps more childish, both by appearance and his nature”.

The Belarusian language also contributed to this good-natured and soft pattern of the man who lives on the roof of an ordinary house in Stockholm.

“As far as I know the translator was very happy. The text was easy to translate. Thanks to the genius of Astrid Lindgren, it was also such a fun”.

The book about the Little Brother and Karlsson has been published absolutely legally. Ales Yaudaha says it did not cost much to get a permit for the translation. Stephan Eriksson, Swedish Ambassador in Belarus, was very helpful in reaching understanding with Swedish partners.

The Knigi Poshtai initiative plans to publish the rest of the titles in Karlsson’s series as well as the children’s literary classics of Anderson and Brothers Grimm.

Yaudakha: “Books are currently in a disadvantageous position. But if this book about Karlsson stirs up this market, we will be very happy. We really hope for that”.

Ales Yaudakha says that by releasing this Belarusian translation of Karlsson-on-the-Roof series, the publishers wanted send a message to the Belarusian authors so that they write more, including the books for kids.