Success of Ukrainian Translator in Netherlands
She combines her work of chemist and book translator for six years
Ukrainian Iryna Koval had only planned to stay in the Netherlands for a year as part of a student exchange. But during her studies, she met her future husband — also a chemist. Iryna stayed for a postgraduate course and now, almost 20 years later, she has a steady job at a laboratory in Utrecht, she’s married, has twins and a large cat. With all of this, she still manages to find the energy to work as a Dutch-Ukrainian translator.
In late 2013, at the start of the Euromaidan anti-government protests, people started asking Iryna for translations about news and events in Ukraine.
“Back then, the publishing house Calvaria contacted an acquaintance of mine, also a Ukrainian in the Netherlands. They bought the rights to several Dutch contemporary books and were looking for translators. Naturally, the Dutch language is not very widespread in Ukraine,” she said.
After translating her first book, Iryna asked around among her friends about popular Dutch children’s books she could translate. And she began to work on the translation of the children’s series “My brother is a Mummy.” Iryna showed her work to an established Ukrainian publisher, who gladly accepted her offer.
“I can read a text and type the translation simultaneously, but I have trouble translating for more than two hours a day. So I worked on the translation for several months,” she said.
“When I worked on this book as an editor I simply. I kept telling everyone that I’d hadn’t been so inspired in years. It was similar to what I felt working on the Harry Potter series and Roald Dahl books. The story is so genuine that it instantly makes you believe it,” publisher Ivan Malkovych said.
The publishing house is already working on a second book translated by Iryna. Editing and illustration are in progress. There are plans to publish Ukrainian translations of three other books to complete the series.
“She really loves books. And she’s a talented translator, which is important. She really tries to make sure her translations don’t make for a dull read. She makes use of the rich Ukrainian vocabulary and improves with every new job she does,” Malkovych said.
Iryna translates in her free time while working in a lab as a chemist. She simultaneously works on several pieces and says she has got orders to keep her busy for years to come.
Other publishers have started contacting me. I just finished translating the book for The Old Lion Publishing House. I’m also in negotiations with another publishing house — on the translation of a collection of Dutch poetry,” she said.
Some day Iryna would like to translate a series of books about Miffy the Rabbit. This staple of Dutch children’s literature has been translated into more than 50 languages.
Iryna also has something for the adult readers.
“An adult book, which for the most part I have already translated, was already published several years ago. It was written by Ray Kluun and is called a Woman Goes to the Doctor. It’s a very difficult book. In fact, is an autobiography about the writer’s wife, who, at 36, was diagnosed with terminal cancer,” she said.
The translator makes sure that her children who are growing up in the Netherlands will get enough exposure to Ukrainian language literature, including her own translations. She reads them before bedtime along with her husband.