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 . . .
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. . .
In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .
Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .
Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic is not a novel in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a collection of vignettes recorded by journalist Georges Vasseur in his diary during a month spent in the Pyrenées Mountains to treat his nervous. . .
Founded in 1960 by such creative pioneers as George Perec, Raymond Queneau and Italo Calvino, the Oulipo, shorthand for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, came about in when a group of writers and mathematicians sought constraints to find new structures and. . .