This post originally appeared on the Frankfurt Book Fair blog. I highly recommend visiting the official blog for interesting posts from Richard Nash, Alex Hippisley-Cox, and Arun Wolf
Seems like every year the Foundation for the Production and Translation of Dutch Literature (NLPVF) comes to the Frankfurt Book Fair with some very cool new idea or project. Last year it was ”* Great Translation by the Way” publication that set forth a series of directives for how to improve the situation for translations in the European Union. This year it’s Schwob.nl.
Schwob.nl was unveiled at a special reception at Fleming’s Hotel last night, and hinges on the idea that translations should be a two-way cultural exchange. Oftentimes, when the NLPVF people go to say, Turkey, and implore Turkish publishers to do more Dutch books, the Turkish publishers start asking questions back about how many Turkish writers are actually available in Dutch. And to no one’s surprise, “Well, um, you know, Orhan Pamuk?” doesn’t go over so well.
But beyond the role economics and corporate publishing houses play in this imbalance, there’s also the problem of information. How much information about Turkish authors is available to Dutch readers and publishers? Just guessing here, but probably not a lot. (And probably a hell of a lot more than what’s available to American readers and publishers. Anyway . . .)
So to offer a digital corrective to this problem (I don’t mean that to sound so horrifyingly medicinal), the NLPVF created schwob.nl as a site to bring info about quality literature to the attention of Dutch readers, editors, and publishers through newsletters, features on the site, etc. (And to all you Americans and Brits—I’ll let you in on a little secret: the site is entirely in English, so you can actually take advantage of this as well.)
Right now there’s only one article available on the site (click here to download the pdf: http://www.schwob.nl/about/), but it’s a very interesting piece about Chinese author Shi Tiesheng that’s written by Chinese-to-Dutch translator Mark Leenhouts and touches on some bigger issues about contemporary Chinese literature.
This site is meant to be an open forum for exchanging recommendations, so if there are any “forgotten classics, cult books, or must-reads” from your country that you want to share with Dutch readers the rest of the world, e-mail the info to firstname.lastname@example.org. And be sure to sign up for the Schwob.nl newsletter . . .
César Aira dishes up an imaginative parable on how identity shapes our sense of belonging with Dinner, his latest release in English. Aira’s narrator (who, appropriately, remains nameless) is a self-pitying, bitter man—in his late fifties, living again with. . .
Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .
Even though the latest from Jean Echenoz is only a thin volume containing seven of what he calls “little literary objects,” it is packed with surprises. In these pieces, things happen below the surface, sometimes both literally and figuratively. As. . .
Who is this woman? This is the question that opens Xiao Bai’s French Concession, a novel of colonial-era Shanghai’s spies and revolutionaries, police and smugglers, who scoot between doorways, walk nonchalantly down avenues, smoke cigars in police bureaus, and lounge. . .
For the past 140 years, Anna Karenina has been loved by millions of readers all over the world. It’s easy to see why: the novel’s two main plots revolve around characters who are just trying to find happiness through love.. . .
Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .
Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .
In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .
There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .