"Take, for example, the opening to Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries: 'The twelve men congragated in the smoking room of the Crown Hotel gave the impression of a party accidentally met.' This is emphatically not the same as starting a novel with 'So there they were: a dozen men in the Crown Hotel, all together in the smoking-lounge, looking like they'd only met there by chance.' Yes, the explicit narrative data conveyed in the two are the same, but just as you wouldn't be happy with your publisher simply producing a sort of casual paraphrase of your writing and publishing that under your name, so your foreign-language publishers are hiring people to write exactly the same book as the one you've written. (Except for all the words, obviously.) Sound difficult? The reality is harder still. Every language is different. There's no single word in one language that maps perfectly onto a word in another - not one. And every language has things it can do, and things it can't."
"Once the contract is signed, the translator takes a deep breath and dives in. Their job is two-fold, and simple: they read you, then they write you.
They read you with more care than anybody else will, more demandigly, more inquiringly. Yes, your editor might take a moment to consider your punctuation if it doesn't work and needs rethinking, but translators have to think hard about it even - or especially - if it does."
A beautiful piece on translators: "The curious condition of being a translator" by Daniel Hahn via Paula Góes on GV-Authors mailing list.