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 email@example.com. And be sure to sign up for the Schwob.nl newsletter . . .
Prose translators will likely disagree, but I believe translating poetry requires a significant level of talent, a commitment to the text, and near mania, all of which suggests that the undertaking is the greatest possible challenge. The task is to. . .
The biggest issues with books like The Subsidiary often have to do with their underpinnings—when we learn that Georges Perec wrote La Disparition without once using the letter E, we are impressed. Imagine such a task! It takes a high. . .
Following The Infatuations, Javier Marías’s latest novel seems, like those that have preceded it, an experiment to test fiction’s capacity to mesmerize with sombre-sexy atmospheres and ruminative elongated sentences stretched across windowless walls of paragraphs. Thus Bad Begins offers his. . .
Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .
Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals is about the type of unique, indestructible, and often tragic loyalty only found in families. For a brief but stunningly mesmerizing 169 pages, Twenty-One Cardinals invited me in to the haunting and intimate world of the. . .
We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our. . .
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .
It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .
As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .