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.
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. . .