What books influenced your writing career the most?

Great question!

I have no writing career as such, but I do enjoy writing. I can better share who my favourite authors per language were & how others described my style of writing.

Naguib Mahfouz‘s novels influenced my Arabic the most. I read them all, except for about 7 novels. His novels are a must read for anyone who loves culture-rich literature.

Naguib Mahfouz

Naguib Mahfouz

Harry Mullisch‘s books must have influenced my Dutch, although I’m told to have a distinct non-typical Dutch style of my own through a blend of some English and Arabic influences, clearly obvious in my use of long sentences that don’t break my thoughts and my preferred use of formal jargon making it closer to “legal language”, like this one long sentence right here!

I read his most famed ones like “The Assault” & “The Discovery of Heaven”; a reading tip for lovers of world literature.


Harry Mullisch

English is more of an indiscriminate mix. Though, I recently received the valuable comment from my most valued critic, my father, that I have something of Franz Kafka‘s & Fyodor Dostoyevsky‘s styles in my critical writing (both non-native English authors by the way) . I considered such a far-fetched comparison a true compliment and one to follow-through with!

Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka

Having read only the translations of their works, my thanks should go out to the translators, I guess; a humble ode to the most underrated professionals throughout history!

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Why is being bilingual not enough to be a translator?


Sure! There are plenty of benefits attached to being bilingual (or multilingual). But, it is a common misconception about translation that “speaking” multiple languages equals the ability to translate between these languages. This is rather an underestimation of translation as a practice.

Translation is a lot more than the mere “conversion” of words from one language into another. Translation is a high form of science. As a matter fact, it’s one of the oldest, most crucial to human development and at the same time least valuated profession and field of knowledge I can immediately think of in terms of (financial) reward. Think about the way science and knowledge have been transferred from nations to nations, countries to other countries throughout history, transcending barriers of geography, culture and language. Image

With excellent translation, comes excellent specialist knowledge (literary, journalistic, scientific, legal, technical, medical, financial etc.) and in many cases all-round knowledge of a group of these disciplines combined to be able to convey a complex message correctly. It is not for nothing that most top-tier translation companies call explicitly for country-knowledge and up-to-date language-knowledge of a certain language or language-pair, next to specialized expertise and jargon. Also, with excellent translation comes refined knowledge of the delicate nuances of “cultural language”, semantics & dialectical language.


  1. When do you call it a “law firm” and when a “legal practice”?
  2. How do you translate “homepage” into a non-Western language? By adding the separate translations of “home” + “page” to each other?
  3. Will you translate the brand name GIF (a cleaning product) into “GIF” in Dutch, while knowing it means POISON in Dutch? Will you try to avoid a bigger cost by changing the whole brand name altogether in CIF instead with all costs associated, or succumb to laxity and terribly consequential inaccuracy?! (a true case)