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2009 Translation Database and Some Fun Numbers

With the end of 2009 approaching, it seems like as good a time as ever to post an update to our translation database and look at some comparisons and more interesting numbers. First off, you can click here to download the entire Excel file that lists all original translations of fiction and poetry released in the U.S. in 2009. Also included in this file are breakdowns by language, country, fiction vs. poetry, publisher, and pub month.

In comparison, the file for 2008 is available here, and if you download both, the first thing you’ll notice is that the total number of translations dipped in 2009 from 362 to 336—a 7% decrease.

Granted, I might be missing a few titles—it’s suspicious that there are only 13 translations coming out in December 2009, but maybe—and over the next couple weeks I’ll be e-mailing this to every publisher, consulate, distributor, translator, and international lit fanatic I can to make sure this is as accurate as possible.

But, on a gut level, I feel like this is damn close to complete. If you look into this dip a bit more closely, you’ll see that the drop off was in terms of poetry. In 2008, 82 translated poetry collections were published by 40 different publishers. In 2009 that number plummets to 57 titles from 33 different publishers. Welcome to the post-financial collapse publishing world . . .

On the other hand, fiction stayed remarkably steady with 280 titles coming out in 2008 and 279 in 2009.

Rather than look at all the same old comparisons (in terms of most translated language, in 2009 Spanish topped French, but France was the most translated country), I thought I’d run some more quirky queries and see what came up.

So, utilizing our complete database (which includes books from 2008, 2009, and 2010), here are the translators with the most translations published over that time:

Margaret Jull Costa (7)
Anthea Bell (6)
Antony Shugaar (6)
Andrew Bromfield (6)
Howard Goldblatt (6)
Clifford Landers (5)
Howard Curtis (5)
Nick Caistor (5)
Katherine Silver (5)
Chris Andrews (5)
Alison Anderson (5)

(Disclaimer: These are the translators with the most original translations published over this period. For example, I think Marian Schwartz would be on the list had we included her retranslations of Bulgakov’s The White Guard and Goncharov’s Oblomov, etc.)

And for authors? No surprise here:

Roberto Bolano (7)
Mehmet Murat Somer (3)
Gert Jonke (3)
Andrea Camilleri (3)
Imre Kertesz (3)
Karin Fossum (3)
Naguib Mahfouz (3)
Horacio Castellanos Moya (3)
Boris Akunin (3)
Mahmoud Darwish (3)

The month with the most translations is April (85), the month with the least is December (34). Bleakest month, my ass.



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