David Warriner is a professional French-to-English literary translator who works with publishers around the world and lends his voice to emerging and established Francophone authors to help them reach the most discerning English-speaking readers.
David takes his work as a professional literary translator seriously. He is a member of the UK Society of Authors, Translators Association (SoA, TA), the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA), and the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada (LTAC). His translation of Roxanne Bouchard's We Were the Salt of the Sea was named runner-up for the Society of Authors 2019 Scott Moncrieff Translation Prize.
David Warriner translates from French to English and nurtures a healthy passion for Franco, Nordic and British crime fiction. Growing up in Yorkshire, England, he developed incurable Francophilia at an early age. Emerging from Oxford with a modern languages degree, he narrowly escaped the graduate rat race by hopping on a plane to Canada... and never really looked back. More than a decade into a high-powered commercial translation career, he listened to his heart and turned his hand again to the delicate and creative art of literary translation. David has lived in France and Quebec, and now calls beautiful British Columbia home.
David Warriner's translation of Nous étions le sel de la mer by French-Canadian author Roxanne Bouchard was published in 2018 by Orenda Books. We Were the Salt of the Sea is both a dark and consuming crime thriller and a lyrical, poetic ode to the sea, a stunning and page-turning novel, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction. Blood Song, David's translation of award-winning French crime writer Johana Gustawsson's Sång was published by Orenda Books in 2019.
In addition to literary and crime fiction translation, David has also translated a number of children's books and non-fiction titles on a variety of topics including fitness and recipe books, guides to running technique, injury prevention and chronic pain, and crime-scene intervention manuals for rookie police officers. His literary non-fiction translation of L'Ours, French biologist Rémy Marion's account of his world travels among bears, is forthcoming from Greystone Books, as is his translation of Le monde selon Guirec et Monique, the hilarious account of a round-the-world sailing voyage undertaken by an intrepid Frenchman and his pet chicken.
When he's not zipping over to Quebec, France or the UK to visit publishers, authors, agents and clients, David Warriner runs his literary and creative translation business W Translation from a home office and coworking space in Penticton, a charming town nestled between two lakes in British Columbia's sunny Okanagan Valley. It's a great place to call home.
Literary translation is a broad field, and it's important for translators to work on books they enjoy, right? As a professional literary translator, David Warriner has translated published titles in a variety of fields including short stories, non-fiction and children's books, though his true passion lies in crime fiction, literary mysteries and thrillers.
David Warriner's translation of Quebec author Roxanne Bouchard's literary mystery We Were the Salt of the Sea was published by Orenda Books in 2018 and shortlisted for the Society of Authors Scott Moncrieff Prize for French-English translation in 2019. His translation of French "Queen of Crime" writer Johana Gustawsson's Blood Song was published by Orenda Books in 2019 and longlisted for the 2020 CWA Dagger for Crime Fiction in Translation.
We Were the Salt of the Sea
Runner-up, 2019 Scott Moncrieff Prize
A literary crime novel
by Roxanne Bouchard
Orenda Books, 2018
Longlisted, 2020 CWA Dagger for Crime Fiction in Translation
A Nordic Noir crime novel
by Johana Gustawsson
Orenda Books, 2019
"The translation from French has retained a dreamily poetic cast to the language, but it’s det-fic for all that, as DS Joaquin Morales, transplanted from balmy Mexican shores to a remote Quebecois fishing community, investigates a woman’s death at sea. This is the first book by Bouchard, renowned Canadian playwright and author, to be translated into English. We Were the Salt of the Sea was a Times Crime Club pick."
- The Times Crime Club
"Blood Song is beautifully and intelligently translated into English by David Warriner. The language flows easily, and whilst it is never an easy read, it is charged with adrenaline, and the tension is unrelenting."
- Random Things Through My Letterbox
With a young daughter at home who is just as avid a reader as he is, David Warriner enjoys translating children's books as well as novels. His recent translations include Jaume Copons' Alex and the Monsters: Here Comes Mr. Flat! and Alex and the Monsters: Restaurant Rescue, two graphic novels for young readers illustrated by Liliana Fortuny and published by Montreal-based publisher Crackboom! Books. David's other children's book translations include a boxed set of remastered fairy tales and a number of board books and picture books for early readers.
In 2017, David was thrilled to translate a short story as part of an innovative project by Quebec-based publisher QC Fiction's I Never Talk About It, a collection of 37 short stories written by Véronique Côté and Steve Gagnon and translated by 37 different translators from around the world to gives readers a flavour of the fresh new writing coming out of Quebec—and a reminder that there are at least 37 different ways to translate an author’s voice.
In addition to literary translation, David puts his keen eye to good use by offering editing and proofreading services to publishers around the world. He also works with a selection of publishers, agents and authors around the world to translate foreign rights catalogues for the Frankfurt, London and Bologna book fairs, among others. He welcomes commissions from publishers and agents to craft sample translations and translation pitches with a view to securing a foreign rights deal for Francophone authors keen to reach a wider audience.
It takes far more than knowing two languages to translate a text effectively and make sure that readers in the target experience the author's words the way they were intended. That's why a good translator will never simply translate the words on the page; rather the spirit and the essence of the author's voice. This is the magic that makes a translation flow and read, well, not like a translation at all.
David Warriner takes his role as a professional literary and creative translator seriously. He is a member of the UK Society of Authors, Translators Association (SoA, TA), the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA), and the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada (LTAC), as well as a certified translator and member of the Order of Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters of Quebec.
To many a professional translator working in, say, business translation, the world of literary translation can seem terribly romantic and alluring. After all, there is something distinctly satisfying about seeing your name in black and white on the shelves of bookstores and the local library. And who wouldn’t want to spend their time talking about their work at book fairs and literary festivals?
However, there are certain drawbacks to turning your back on a successful commercial translation career to dive into the sink-or-swim sea of publishing. David found this out the hard way yet has still stubbornly steered the balance of his work toward literary and other published translations. He has seen with his own four eyes how switching tracks from commercial to literary translation can bring significant challenges, and he now takes every opportunity to share the benefits of his experience (or hindsight) with emerging literary translators thinking of flirting with the sirens of literary translation to help them take the plunge with their eyes wide open.
David has been invited to speak publicly about his experiences and share his expertise at various professional translation events including the ITI Conference in the UK and the Translate in Quebec City masterclass event. He has also delivered two short, snappy Pecha Kucha talks about his journey into literary translation and how he successfully pitched the translation of Roxanne Bouchard's Nous étions le sel de la mer to a UK publisher and brought this lyrical, elegiac ode to the sea of a crime novel to English-speaking readers.
David Warriner has published a number of fiction and non-fiction titles in translation. Here are two of his favourite books, together with a short excerpt and reviews.
Truth lingers in murky waters… As Montrealer Catherine Day sets foot in a remote fishing village and starts asking around about her birth mother, the body of a woman dredges up in a fisherman’s nets. Not just any woman, though: Marie Garant, an elusive, nomadic sailor and unbridled beauty who once tied many a man’s heart in knots. Detective Sergeant Joaquin Moralès, newly drafted to the area from the suburbs of Montreal, barely has time to unpack his suitcase before he’s thrown into the deep end of the investigation.
On Quebec’s outlying Gaspé Peninsula, the truth can be slippery, especially down on the fishermen’s wharves. Interviews drift into idle chit-chat, evidence floats off with the tide and the truth lingers in murky waters. It’s enough to make DS Moralès reach straight for a large whisky… Both a dark and consuming crime thriller and a lyrical, poetic ode to the sea, We Were the Salt of the Sea is a stunning, page-turning novel, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.
Cyrille said the sea was like a patchwork quilt. Fragments of waves joined together by strands of sunlight. He said the sea would swallow the stories of the world and digest them at its leisure in its cobalt belly before regurgitating only distorted reflections. He said the events of the last few weeks would sink into the darkness of memory.
Today, the swell rolls like a watery carpet, lapping against the hull of the sailboat, flickering in the slivers cast by the rising sun. The wind fills the sails as the horizon glows red, dawn washing the sea with colour and transforming this story into a scarlet fresco. The sky turns blue, with just enough of a hint of pink to pave the way for the sun. One last time, I turn my light-flooded pupils towards the rugged coastline of the Baie-des-Chaleurs, which, already far behind, fades into the stubborn mist of sunrise.
"No one speaks to my head and heart as powerfully and beautifully as the Queen of French Noir. I am really glad that her work is handled by the talented translator David Warriner, who brings Johana’s style to English readers with accuracy. His translation does the original version justice and international readers are not robbed of the author’s magnificent style."
- Meggy Roussel, book blogger
"I have to mention and thank David Warriner, the incredible translator who brings alive to us all the amazing storytelling of Johana Gustawsson."
- Mairead Hearne, book blogger
"This may be a crime and a mystery novel but here is a book that actually really got to me, at times I was so consumed by the writing and also the story really touched me. The story flows like a calm sea and the translation by David Warriner is just outstanding."
- The Last Word book reviews
Roxanne Bouchard's lyrical We Were the Salt of the Sea is proof positive that while beautiful words maketh outstanding books, a good translator is worth his (in this case) weight in gold. The book is faithfully and respectfully translated from its original (Quebec) French by David Warriner, who does a more than sterling job of capturing the nuances and lyricism of Bouchard’s original prose."
- The Literary Shed