24 January 14 | Chad W. Post

At long last, I just posted an updated 2013 Translation Database, and following the trend of recent years, the number of books has increased—significantly.

In fact, this is the first year since we started tracking the publication of never-before translated works of fiction and poetry that we surpassed 500 total books for the year. That’s huge. Very huge. Let me show you just how huge.

In 2008, we identified 360 translations in total (278 works of fiction, 82 poetry).

2009 was almost identical: 362 total translations (290 fiction, 72 poetry).

2010 was a step backwards, with only 344 translations (266 fiction, 78 poetry).

Everything got back on track in 2011 with 374 total translations coming out (304 fiction, 70 poetry).

2012 was another increase, and was the first time the total broke into the 400s. Specifically, 456 translations came out (386 fiction, 70 poetry).

And now, we’re up to 517 (427 fiction, 90 poetry). That’s a 50% increase from 2010, or, in actual terms, 173 more translations came out in 2013 than in 2010. Seems unbelievable . . .

Someone asked me about this increase the other day, and from looking at the list of publishers, it looks like two things are contributing to this increase: publishers who have traditionally published literature in translation are now doing a couple more books every year, and there are far more publishers publishing books in translation than there were just a few years ago. (In 2010, 139 publishers did at least one translation. That number jumped to 187 in 2013.)

I going to talk about this more in a later post, but this database update reinforces my belief that there’s a lot going on in the international literature world in the U.S. these days, and it’s time to transition from discussions about how little is being made available to American readers and into discussions about what great books we should be paying attention to.

For example, how many of you have heard of Lontar Foundation? Anyone? Well, as part of their programs to support Indonesian literature, they published 8 titles last year. Granted, I doubt these are available anywhere outside of Amazon, but still. Let’s talk about the interesting new projects and the should-be successes, instead of the fact that only 87 French books were published in translation last year.

And looking ahead, I think 2014 could feature another significant increase, what with Restless Books logging some titles into the Database (I’m particularly excited about Nest of Worlds because it’s Polish. And it sounds like really literary sci-fi.), AmazonCrossing continuing to expand, a whole new batch of books from Dalkey Archive, etc., etc. I’m not sure we’ll end up at 600 books, but 550? That sounds possible.


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