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Harry Potter in Ukrainian: the adventures continue

Seventh book about life in the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is published in Ukraine
2 October, 2007 - 00:00
AFTER THE OFFICIAL PART OF THE PRESENTATION ENDED, A-BA-BA-HA-LA-MA-HA PUBLISHER IVAN MALKOVYCH SURPRISED THE AUDIENCE BY SINGING A SONG ABOUT HARRY POTTER / Photo by Maria BYKOVA

The A-BA-BA-HA-LA-MA-HA Publishing House has just released the book Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows. The splashy presentation featured symphony musicians led by a young female conductor with a glittering baton, a waterfall of colored balloons, crowds of Harry Potter clones, and Hagrid, the formidable giant. The Potter fans who attended the launch included five-year-old children and the elderly, and everyone in between.

The book’s main translator, Viktor Morozov, was chained to a desk for 40 days so that Ukrainian fans of the wizard school heroes could be the first to enjoy the book in the non-English-speaking world, or so he claimed. Morozov has translated all of Joanne Rowling’s Harry Potter novels. This is the second time that a Ukrainian translation of one of her novels is the first to be released. Like the last time, the A- BA-BA-HA-LA-MA-HA Publishing House outstripped all the world’s translators by releasing its Ukrainian translation, which came out three weeks earlier than the Russian one, despite the huge desire of our neighbors to outstrip the Ukrainian publishers, Malkovych said.

The total press run of all seven volumes of the Ukrainian edition of Harry Potter is rapidly approaching one million. The Harry Potter series has been published all over the world with American covers, including in our neighboring countries: Russia, Poland, and the Czech Republic. However, Ukraine is among a small number of countries that obtained the right to publish Harry Potter with their own covers, an achievement that can be attributed chiefly to the well-known Ukrainian artist Vladyslav Yerko, who illustrated all seven book covers for the Ukrainian edition.

According to Malkovych, seven people, including Morozov, worked on the latest translation. Besides the Potter series, he has translated the bestsellers The Alchemist, The Devil and Miss Prym and Veronica Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho. Malkovych and the most famous translator of films and TV serials (including Alfa), Oleksa Nehrebetsky, edited the latest Potter book.

The atmosphere at the book launch was joyful, friendly, and fairy-tale-like. Credit for this is mainly due to the 70-piece symphony orchestra conducted by Tetiana Kalynychenko, which performed the soundtracks from the Harry Potter films for the first time in Ukraine. Thanks to the conductor’s initiative and the assistance of the Babylon Art Collection benefactor project, the musical scores were ordered directly from Hollywood with the exclusive right (and license) to be performed in Ukraine.

After the speech by the members of the creative team from the A-BA-BA-HA-LA-MA-HA Publishing House, the Harry Potter’s Twin Contest was held. All age categories of Harry were represented, from plump children wearing glasses to robust “Uncle Potters.” The winner as well as the contest participants received copies of the latest Harry Potter book. Afterwards, a quiz was held to test people’s knowledge of “Potteriana.” The people in the audience got so worked up that they nearly pulled down the stage where Malkovych, Morozov, Kalynychenko, and some of the musicians were standing. Journalists standing near the stage were forced to flee.

Concluding the official part of the launch with a sale of books, Malkovych and Morozov, accompanying themselves on guitar and violin, sang a duet about why Harry Potter should be read in Ukrainian. Two thousand copies of the book, priced at 39 hryvnias, were brought to the launch, and nearly all of them were sold.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is available this week at Ukrainian bookstores (initial press run is 150,000). The film based on the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, will be released in 2008.

By Olha STELMASHEVSKA, special to The Day
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