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:
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.
Pascal Quignard’s __The Hatred of Music_ is the densest, most arcane, most complex book I’ve read in ages. It’s also a book that covers a topic so basic, so universal—almost primordial—that just about any reader will be perversely thrilled by. . .
In Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Flaubert attempted to highlight the ordinary, tired, and often crass nature of common expressions by italicising them within the text. When Charles, Emma Bovary’s mediocre husband, expresses himself in a manner akin to that of. . .
Eliot Weinberger takes big strides across literary history in his genuinely breathtaking short work, 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei, tracking translations of a short ancient Chinese poem from the publication of Ezra Pound’s Cathay in 1915 to Gary. . .
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. . .