Translated fiction has made the news today, well, in the publishing world at least!
Pushkin Press has introduced their new imprint for translated children’s books, which aims to bring “classic and bestselling children’s books from all around the world to British children”, to help change the current situation of around 3% of UK books being translated from another language, and the huge lack of translated fiction in the children’s book market.
I personally will be keeping an eye on these developments because it is about time that more translated books entered the UK children’s markets!
To see the whole article on the Guardian website: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/may/07/pushkin-imprint-childrens-books-translation
One thing that bugs me is that during the whole time i was writing my Masters dissertation on Translated Fiction, i couldn’t find a single source for the magical “3% of the UK book market is translated fiction” figure, and then suddenly i find this has decreased to 2.5% according to an article on Publishing Perspectives website! - Books in Translation: It’s time for others to join the fight
The problem is that there aren’t enough books coming into the UK from non-Anglophone markets, and there is a lack of airtime dedicated to translated fiction, unless you know where to find it. I do my best to review translated fiction here on my blog and i have a page dedicated to the reviews of books which i have read: A World Of Randomness – Translated Fiction
Why is Translated Fiction not getting far in the UK market? Well, according to the Publishing Perspectives article Books in translation it’s time for others to join the fight:
- “The permeating stereotype about books in translation is that they are “too literary” and “too serious” for a general readership in comparison to, say, light and entertaining cook books, celebrity memoirs or the recent publication of “mummy’s porn” Fifty Shades of Grey which was given almost every available space in every paper.”
- “All publishers rely heavily on reviews to capture a market for their titles. And although the days of the British Empire are long gone, it still seems that the mainstream media, even those left leaning outlets which pride themselves on cultural diversity and liberal values, are far too conservative to devote column inches to literature and non-fiction in translation.”
- “How are we going to convince a reviewer to give it a go if most of them get an instant headache when they can’t pronounce the author’s name?”
- “Publishing a book in translation is expensive. You are lucky as a publisher if you get a translation grant which rarely covers 100% of the amount it is costing you to get the work done; sometimes you get nothing and you face the possibility of dropping the title from your list altogether because it’s simply too expensive for a small press to cover the translation costs.”
- “If a publisher decides to take on a book written in a non-English language, the foreign author will be very well established with a few prizes under his/her belt to give the publisher a fighting change of getting the title reviewed at all. And so those books translated into English are often literary, high-brow, and serious.”
- “It’s common knowledge that there’s no money in publishing books in translation, meaning it’s done by people who are seriously passionate about literature often subsidise the business with their savings or second jobs.”
They are all true and all need to be sorted out if translated fiction wants to have a bigger stake in the UK book market.
Other recent interesting articles on the subject of Translated fiction:
Books in Translation: It’s Time for Others to Join the Fight - http://publishingperspectives.com/2013/02/books-in-translation-its-time-for-others-to-join-the-fight/
British children miss out on foreign bestsellers - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/10039917/British-children-miss-out-on-foreign-bestsellers.html
Best Translated Fiction Award 2013 - http://www.rochester.edu/College/translation/threepercent/index.php?s=btb