european finds !

We were in town this morning me and my wife Amanda so i decided to pop into Chesterfield library ,to find they had a stand of translated fiction which was great .had a good look through and picked up two to read .These are both new writers to me and the synopsis of both books sounded good .the first was by Jean-Claude Izzo a sun for the dying ,that follows a man called Rico in Izzo’s native Marseilles after he escapes a tough life in paris and the cold north of france .As he searches for lost love .the other book is a book by a czech writer Emil Hakl of kids and parents and is described as a bit like Ulysses as it follows a father and son round the bars of Prague and sounds like it is a stream of .. book .

    I think its great that the library is promoting translated literature as only three percent of books published in uk are translated ,where as in other european countries that figure is much higher .there is a link to the three percent site from the university of Rochester that helps promote translated fiction.

do you read much european fiction ?

have you a favourite book by a writer from europe ?


two new writers

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. farmlanebooks
    Mar 15, 2010 @ 13:33:05

    I love books in translation! Jose Saramago is one of my favourite authors and I have enjoyed many more books from other European countries. I read much more than 3% in translation and hope that % rises in the future.


    • winstonsdad
      Mar 15, 2010 @ 13:36:40

      I m sure it will Jackie ,there seems to be a upturn in translation with scandinvian crime doing well .It is shocking i can remember when i lived in Germany the number of books in translation from english to german was vast compared with german to english . i like saramago too .


  2. Sarah
    Mar 16, 2010 @ 11:33:17

    Really interesting blog Stu, and what an excellent promo for your library to be doing. I suppose I’m not too shocked that the percentage is so low. Just read in the Independent that an Israeli novel by Gail Hareven has won the Best Translated Book Award, it’s called ‘The Confessions of Noa Weber’. Just wondered if you’d read it? Perhaps that’s one I should start with… I must admit my only brush with translated fiction has been Guy de Maupassant, which tails back to my A-Level days, and Nordic crime fiction which like you said is seeing a surge in popularity.


    • winstonsdad
      Mar 16, 2010 @ 20:24:49

      maupassant is great rob at robaroundbooks is ahuge fan ,i ve read a fair few of his short stories .maybe you could do a feature at bookrabbit on translated fiction ?


      • Sarah
        Mar 18, 2010 @ 17:07:26

        Yup, I’ve just been reading some of his previous maupassant posts. That’s a great idea Stu about something on translated fiction, I know you’re a big fan. Might you be up for a ‘guest editor’ slot for us? I’ll have a think of how it could work in that case…

      • winstonsdad
        Mar 19, 2010 @ 18:37:44

        would be more than happy to help you guys sarah

  3. Stewart
    Mar 16, 2010 @ 17:51:22

    I believe the number of translations published in the UK is more around the two per cent mark, as the three per cent pertains to the US publishing industry. And I don’t believe it’s solely limited to fiction, things like academia textbooks and other non-fiction are included in the calculation.

    I don’t find it much of an issue that non-English speaking countries translate more: they are, after all, bombarded with English language culture in terms of movies, music, television, and, of course, books. Plus, when a language has a smaller reach – say, Finnish – then it’s necessary to translate more novels into that language so as to widen the pool, avoid stagnation, and offer more choice. The English language dominates the world and so, with the abundance of titles appearing each week, it seems less necessary to bring in foreign works: the English cultural question seems to be, why bring in more if we can barely scratch the surface of what we have?

    Of course, I would always argue for more translations in our marketplace and a decline in lingually ‘homegrown’ titles which really are much of a muchness these days, and typically uninspiring. Before the money men moved in and ‘the Bottom Line’ became the primary focus of larger publishing, it was not uncommon to see a larger range of writers from around the world Englished, but as the low percentages make clear, this is now in decline (or would be, if smaller independents weren’t eyeing it as a gap in the market, even if their budgets aren’t able to promote it as well).

    Regarding Sarah’s comment about Gail Hareven’s book: it’s only been published in the US to date. The Independent has been running a UK equivalent (with prize money) for a good number if years now. The longlist got that was announced only a few days ago.

    I’ve had the Emil Hakl book sitting on the shelves for a couple of years now. Really must read it.

    Of course,


    • winstonsdad
      Mar 16, 2010 @ 20:22:37

      there is always a good case for more translations ,there are some great indies true both here and in us ,wish the independent prize would grasp people as much as say the orange does


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March 2010


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