Actor Steve Karier, pictured, is the Luxembourgish voice of Harry Potter
Photo: Jan Hanrion
Did you know that Harry Potter is available as an audiobook in Luxembourgish? Voice actor Steve Karier explains.
Before Luxembourg actor Steve Karier was invited to be the voice for the audiobook, he’d never read Harry Potter.
“My daughter never had an interest in fantasy stories, so we didn’t have a single Harry Potter book in the house,” he recalls. The hugely popular books penned by UK author J. K. Rowling have been translated into around 80 languages. Luxembourgish joined that list when translator Florence Berg took on the task for Kairos Edition.
"Den Harry Potter an den Alchimistesteen" (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) sold well but, Karier points out, Luxembourg “people find it difficult to read their own language. They speak it the way they learned it.”
Karier was an obvious choice to read the audiobook, having voiced a handful of Luxembourgish books in the past, notably Michel Rodange’s national epic Renert. He finally had a chance to find out what the fuss was all about. “It’s a nice story, good reading and it’s a pretty good translation,” Karier said.
In this version, the translator created comical Luxembourg versions for the words and places first invented by the author. While the original character names remain unchanged, there are local jokes, for instance the giant Hagrid is described as hailing from Steinfort.
In 2019, Karier travelled to Berlin where, because of budget constraints, he had just three-and-a-half days to record the nine-and-a-half hour audiobook. “It’s exhausting if you have to do 100 pages a day.” The audiobook was eventually released in December 2019 and joins a small but growing library of around 16 ebooks in Luxembourgish. As lockdown eases, Karier is coordinating a national audiobook tour to raise the profile. He believes it will be of interest to Luxembourgers, but also a helpful device for learners of Luxembourgish who may already have read the book in another language.
“The subject is known so you can still listen and follow the story in the Luxembourgish book.” If the audio version sells well, the actor will record the second book in the series. “Then they will finish translating the third and continue,” he said. “It will be sad not to try our very best to complete the series.”
Like many artists the world over, the pandemic meant some of the actor’s scheduled jobs were cancelled. Among them was the annual Monodrama Festival. “The government was generous, we kept funding and [were] paid as if the festival had happened,” he said. Despite this, he has positive memories of lockdown in Luxembourg--he lost eight kilos by eating better and cycling.
Karier also started a new project making radio plays out of American crime novels, in German, for Swiss radio. With so much of his work based abroad, including an upcoming one-man show which he will tour in Germany, Karier is at the whim of quarantines and border closures. Thanks to lockdown, though, he is philosophical. “I think if it doesn’t work out, I just don’t do it. I’m important and my well-being is important.”
Catch Steve Karier at a live reading at the Luxembourg national library in Kirchberg on Saturday 31 October at 3pm. Advance registration is compulsory. Book your place by emailing [email protected]
This article was first published in the October-November 2020 edition of Delano Magazine