Dr. Jing Bartz: The minister from the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) approved the first list of translation funding shortly before the Frankfurt Book Fair. The amounts range from 2,000 to 7,000 euros per title. Just to give a few examples: Berlin Verlag has bought a short novel by a young Chinese author, “Im Laufschritt durch Peking”, which it plans to make one of its key titles in 2009. This is about a migrant worker who comes to Beijing in search of wealth and love. S. Fischer Verlage are at the moment preparing Yu Hua’s lengthy family novel “Die Brüder”, a panoramic picture of Chinese society from the fifties through to the present day. At Suhrkamp, Mo Yan’s novel “Sandelholzfolter” is already being translated: a historical novel that takes readers back to the days of Germany’s colonial presence in China.
Ambitious literature that conveys life and what it feels like to live in China and does so interestingly and with understanding, goes down well with German-language publishing companies. As well as contemporary literature, some classical works will probably also receive funding.
The application process is simple, needing no more than completion of a one-page form and presentation of the licence agreement. Apart from a rejection, there’s nothing to lose. I would advise all German and English-language publishing companies to take advantage of this funding opportunity.
There’s also an interview with Uwe Tellkamp, author of Der Term (The Tower), a 1000-page novel that won the 2008 German Book Prize. Surprisingly, Tellkamp isn’t the most loquacious of interviewees:
Frankfurt Book Fair: In the industry, you were already the favourite once the shortlist was announced. Did you really not expect at all to win the prize?
Uwe Tellkamp: No.
The whirl of your novel – dense, eloquent and intense, and showing borrowings from your own life – sweeps the reader along with it. Were you also caught up in a whirlwind of past events as you wrote, or was there such a thing as “normal everyday life” for you?
In an interview at the Book Fair, you said that a book tells you when it’s finished and that as the author, you have to be able to listen to that. For “Der Turm”, it took almost 1,000 pages before saying “stop”. Did that surprise you?
Still no reference to the sale of the English-language rights . . . Hopefully someone will pick this up.
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