Three Percent was named after the oft-cited statistic (first established by Bowker) that only 3% of books published in the U.S. are translations. We suspected that 3% number was a little high, but we had no way of confirming our suspicions--there were no real records of the number of translations published from year to year.
So, we decided to keep track ourselves. By collecting as many catalogs as we can and asking publishers directly, we've managed to come up with a fairly accurate record of the books published in translation since January 1st, 2008. For the sake of our sanity, we’ve limited our data gathering to original translations of fiction and poetry published or distributed here in the United States. By "original," we're referring to titles that have never before appeared in English (at least not in the States). So new translations of classic titles aren't included in our database, and neither are reprints of previously published books. Our focus is on identifying how many new books and new voices, are being made available to English-speaking readers.
If you'd like to see the list for yourself, you can download one of the spreadsheets below. In addition to a straight list of translated titles, these spreadsheets break this information down into publisher, language, country of origin, and publisher.
If you're a translator, author, librarian, publishers, or reader, and know of a title that's missing from the list, please e-mail Chad W. Post (chad.post at rochester dot edu) with the necessary information.
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. . .