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.
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. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .
It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .
As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .