19 December 08 | Chad W. Post

It was just about a year ago that I started thinking about creating a “translation database” to keep track of all original translations of fiction and poetry published in the U.S. After all the speculation, guesstimation, and incomplete or inaccurate studies, I thought it would be useful to produce an actual list of translations instead of just a figure or percentage, a list that was available to everyone, and contained info about the books, translators, publishers, languages, etc.

While my dream of making this into an editable, online database/wiki has yet to materialize, I’ve been posting updates to this on a regular basis and receiving nice feedback about missing titles, misspelled names, etc. Additions to the database have been slowing down considerably, and hopefully the updated version is 97-98% complete.

You can download the spreadsheet by clicking here and see the complete list of titles along with breakdowns by country, language, month, fiction vs. poetry, and publisher. Please, if you have any corrections (like filling in the “??” entries for some translators), please e-mail me at chad.post at rochester dot edu.

I identified 356 titles published over the course of 2008, from 137 different publishers, and more than 46 languages. That’s a pretty miniscule number, especially considering the fact that 50,000 works of fiction were published in the U.S. last year . . . But it’s a starting point, and it will be interesting to see what happens in future years.

And speaking of the future, although this is grossly incomplete, here’s the first version of the 2009 Translation Database. There are tons of catalogs yet to enter, and websites to visit, and reviews to dig through, but I’ve already found 104 titles coming out during the first eight months of 2009. Not a bad start . . . And if you’re a publisher or translator or person in the know, and have books to add to this list, please let me know.

I’ll write a longer commentary and analysis of the 2008 list after the first of the year, and will start looking at comparisons between 2008 and 2009 around the same time. In the meantime, you can start planning your “one-translation-a-day” schedule in order to read all books published in translation over the course of 2009 . . . . We’ll start highlighting these books (and reviewing them) next month . . .


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