1 November 12 | Chad W. Post

So, a mere 10 months into the year, I’ve finally updated the Translation Database and just posted a new version of the spreadsheet for 2011 and posted the first version of the spreadsheet for 2012..

I’m fully aware that the 2012 list of poetry books is woefully incomplete, so if you are a poet, or a translator of poetry, or a reader of the poetic form, PLEASE email me with info on all of the books that are not listed here. I’m going to go through the SPD catalog really carefully when I get back from Sharjah (yeah, really, I’ll explain later), but it’s SO much easier to get the info from all of you.

Since the poetry needs to be updated, I’m going to save any global comments about the state of literature in translation in the U.S. for a later post. It is worth noting that at this moment, I’ve identified 385 original1 translations published in 2012, compared to 370 in 2011—a 4% increase. This isn’t huge, but if we do identify 20-30 more poetry books, this could end up being closer to a 10% increase, which would be pretty significant.

Sticking to fiction though, there are 342 translated titles published in 2012, compared to 303 in 2011—a notable 13% increase. If you look at the top 10 publishers of translated fiction, they accounted for 107 books in 2011 (Dalkey 30; AmazonCrossing 17; Knopf 11; Europa 9; New Directions 9; Seagull Books 9; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 8; New York Review Books 7; Open Letter 7) and 139 in 2012 (Dalkey 32; AmazonCrossing 25; Europa 14; Seagull 14; American University at Cairo 12; FSG 10; Other Press 10; Open Letter 8; Archipelago 7; New Directions 7).

There are a few changes in the most translated languages rankings . . . Here’s the list from 2011:

French (63)
Spanish (50)
German (39)
Japanese (23)
Italian (20)
Russian (19)
Swedish (19)
Arabic (15)
Norwegian (14)
Chinese (12)

And 2012:

French (57)
German (50)
Spanish (45)
Italian (32)
Arabic (25)
Swedish (23)
Russian (17)
Portuguese (15)
Japanese (13)
Chinese (11)

The one I’m most interested in watching over the next few years is Japanese. As we have yet to report, the Japanese Literature Publishing Project went kaputt over the summer, which is going to a huge blow to Dalkey Archive’s Japanese Literature Series and to several other presses. The number of titles published in the U.S. has already dropped from 23 to 13, and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Japanese falls out of the top 10 in 2013.

Anyway, download the spreadsheet and take a look at all of the books and stats. If you find anything interesting, or know of titles that need to be added, just let me know, or post them in the comments below.

1 “Original” means that the book has never before appeared in any English translation at all. Even if a book was first translated in 1932, sold 7 copies, and was just rediscovered and translated anew in 2012, it won’t be included in this database. My goal in setting this up was to identify “new” voices/books that English readers never before had access to in any form.


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