International Translation Day – state of the translation nation


Now the picture above is Saint Jerome one of the first people to translate the bible and has since become the patron saint of Translation ,well this year seems a great time to do a state of the nation type piece from my view (as thou anyone is listening I imagine but ) ,well as I recently passed the 100 books in translation read for the year ,I get sent books in translation and in the five years of this blog ,yes things are changing but it is rather like turbo in the film its a snail’s pace ,what we want is a nitrous oxide injection .Now I was struck by Katy Derbyshires piece on a female prize in translation being need , I agree,  but I may also add it isn’t the only prize that is really need ,we have a lack of book prize in translation and also a lack of coverage of prizes in translation in the press .I’m not sure which is the chicken or which is the egg to change this situation ? more prizes more coverage would seem to be something to me , also publishers then able to sticker mention prizes and in that way attract the general buying public to books in translation .I have been talking slowly to Susan from Istros about sorting a European book prize of some sort a sort of european booker ,early days and it is slow mainly as I am very nervous about this both through excitment about this but also scared of messing it up as I am actually just a care worker ,who loves books in translation .But I feel my passion is the best part I bring to this any way Susan mentioned it in the post she did for me last year  .I want a prize not just for uk publishers as one of the main things I have seen in the time I’ve been blogging is publishers outside the uk coming to the uk market ,with spanish ,czech publishers and in the future a Dutch publisher doing this I see this as a trend indviduals or big publishers just bypassing the uk / us publishers and translating books at the source .I would also love in the ebook market maybe more out of print books in translation being made available ,I’m not sure how many of you have tried to find some great books that are out of print secondhand some of these books cost a lot in fact the first two Murakami books due for new translation are perfect examples the hear the wind sing is available at £80 secondhand (bargain not ) one of the great things about ebooks is the fact the cost is very little to bring these books back ,I know there are rights problems that need to be sorted ,but someone should try and get on this as for me it seems a small but possibly valuable corner of the market that isn’t being fully used yet .So in year one to five  of winstonsdad – books in translation doing well but could do more (god it sounds like every single one of my school reports lol ), needs more prizes ,more media coverage and maybe a way to get the every day reading  public keener and less scared of books in translation .So back next year for year 6 of books in translation ! . Image via Wiki

What are your thoughts on recent years in translation ?


12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kaggsysbookishramblings
    Sep 30, 2014 @ 20:22:19

    I just thank translators every day (in my head anyway) for all the wonderful books they’ve brought me. And thank goodness that translated fiction is so in vogue at the moment – we get even more wonderful books to read!! 🙂


  2. cergat
    Sep 30, 2014 @ 22:14:44

    You know, there was a discussion a few days ago at Guerrilla Concepts of whether they could launch a translation contest with cash prizes. The idea is not that complex but details still have to be worked out, and their site needs some more work too, so for the time being I am hosting them on my site. But, what was being discussed was the possibility of having a short piece translated from the original, say English into another language, say Italian, then from the Italian into a third language, for example German, and then from the German into English again. A sort of broken telephone game. Then compare the original with the translation. The game plays with the idea of the influence a foreign language exherts upon another. Would you be interested in participating in something like that?


  3. Lisa Hill
    Oct 01, 2014 @ 01:04:19

    *chuckle* “sounds like every single one of my school reports”, you crack me up, Stu!

    I think all of us who have been influenced by you to read more in translation (of course we are listening to you!) are gradually forming a global network promoting books in translation, but what is needed is for publishers to do their part. It’s not up to us, it’s up to them to get together and network. They are all too small to achieve anything much on their own. Without naming all the small publishers that do the books I read about here, I can’t see why they don’t form something like our Australian SPUNC ( and then they could research what marketing techniques work, they could jointly sponsor a prize and so on.
    After all, if a global bunch of amateur bloggers can get together to organise a Shadow Prize, a global bunch of professional publicists ought to be able to achieve great things.


    • cergat
      Oct 01, 2014 @ 16:42:48

      The “it’s not up to us, it’s up to them” argument is more than exhausted in our time. And exhausting. No offense. I find this defeatist attitude more among writers (and intellectuals generally, to use a word which Foucault has destroyed for all time), than anywhere else. It is not easy to organize people around an idea, even when they seem to agree it is a good or even a great idea. One of the reasons is that it is easier to wait for someone else to do the work. I do not mean let’s all get together and be strong because alone we are weak, another exhausting ideology, but the lack of will to do anything. The casual way in which we demand that someone else must actualize our dreams. We have literally become consumers of dreams. We dream about something, and then instead of t


    • winstonsdad
      Oct 01, 2014 @ 18:00:29

      They should be able to think it is happening more recent events in UK have seen publishers working much closer to do events in translation


  4. MarinaSofia
    Oct 01, 2014 @ 08:18:20

    Could do better… certainly! You made me laugh! But it’s so true, whenever I speak to French, German, Swiss writers at literary festivals over here, they say how much easier it is to find translators/publishers willing to translate in other European languages (or even further afield) rather than English. So, despite the so-called vogue for translation, it’s still mainly with a commercial focus, books that they think will sell well (or else books funded by the Goethe Institut, Alliance Francaise etc.).


  5. Annabel (gaskella)
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 10:41:15

    I have just received a copy of a YA novel by a Brazilian author – The HEad of the Saint by Socorro Acioli. I hope that novels in translation for younger readers will be a new trend as they are a real rarity… Looking forward to reading this one very much.


  6. farmlanebooks
    Oct 03, 2014 @ 18:28:10

    Yes, could do better! Things do seem to be improving though – I just wish it was a little faster 🙂 A European Booker would be fantastic! I really hope that goes well.


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