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.
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. . .