donal mclaughlin

on & off the page



Donal’s translation of Pedro Lenz’ naw much of a talker was published by Freight Books (Glasgow) in September 2013. The reviews, like the response to Pedro’s readings in Glasgow and Edinburgh in August, have been particularly good. It seems that this translation of a Swiss book even ended up being considered for the Saltire Book of the Year Awards. While it was not shortlisted, the convener of the jury singled it out for special praise.


‘Inspired by a six-month residency in Glasgow (…), this short, sharp novel (..) now arrives in a remarkable translation into Glaswegian dialect by Donal McLaughlin. As the title ironically implies, it’s all about the voice; and what a voice it is. [The narrator’s] interior monologue can switch, in the same sentence, from a cuttingly funny observation to a sombre analysis of the human condition, while his ups and downs give him pause to reflect on life and love in language that is raw and poignant, and positively glows with humanity.’

The List


‘Goalie is Swiss. In Donal McLaughlin’s lively, ear-grabbing, subtly attentive, pawky translation, Goalie purveys his Swiss-German words in the fat-frying, guttural, bubbling vernacular and accent of swaggering Glasgow. “For a Dear Green place” runs the book’s dedication by Pedro Lenz (…) who spent six months there imbibing its powerful linguistic refreshment, and being inspired (…) by the work of vernacular writers such as James Kelman. Lenz and McLaughlin have bracingly turbo-charged the idiom. This is a novel that should be proclaimed, spoken aloud, to be appreciated and (literally) understood. (…) Once you’ve tuned in, you won’t switch off. Goalie’s stream of unstoppable, introverted narration creates its own version of linguistic white-water rafting: all stops and starts, its bounce and dip and sideways lurches, its slower contemplative passages contrasting with the spray-gun verbal splashes when hot-wired Goalie loses the plot with one of his mates and, at last, with Regula, the only love of his life. (…) As the tale moves forward, its sense of Goalie’s continuing existential limbo becomes reminiscent of those popular literary oeuvres of 50 years ago, Beckett meets Camus, with added laughs, for McLaughlin’s translation brings to the text all the wit and wisdom Goalie can muster. Lenz’s book is a verbal spree, a tour de force.’

The Scotsman


‘although it didn’t make the shortlist we were enormously impressed by the extraordinary Naw Much of A Talker where Donal McLaughlin takes Pedro Lenz’s crackling 2010 novel in Swiss German and vaults into an excellent written Scots translation.’

Ian Campbell, Saltire Book of the Year Awards 2013


‘A welcome change from having the Queen’s English as the default mode of translation’

The Herald


‘The question of whether we call McLaughlin’s language dialect or vernacular will hopefully not interest most of his readers in the slightest; they might well just be hooked on an understated, charming, stoical story.’

Goethe’s Gonna Getya


‘the rendition works beautifully, capturing both the melancholy and the verbal music of Goalie’s monologue’

The Financial Times


‘This novel is a remarkable feat of translation by Donal McLaughlin. Originally written in Swiss dialect (…), it has now been translated into English, but not in standard prose but a Glaswegian dialect that wouldn’t be out of place on the pages of Kelman. It reminded me of discovering the Rebel Inc Classics in the 90s, like Knut Hamsun and Alexander Trocchi, where protagonists are armed with existential awareness but handicapped with the inability to escape their inevitable decline. (…) McLaughlin is almost a co-author rather than translator.’



7_Pedro_Lenz_farbig_quer_2_mediumPedro Lenz

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