The Increased Prsence of Translation

Ever since I found myself a part of the translation world (whatever exactly that is), it seems like people always want to know whether or not translated literature is making inroads into the mainstream culture. On the whole I still feel like it’s too early to say, but it does seem clear that over the past few years there have been a lot more translations getting published. This is both because of new translation presses coming into existence and because of older presses doing more translation.

In 2008, we identified 360 translations in total (278 works of fiction, 82 poetry).

2009 was almost identical: 362 total translations (290 fiction, 72 poetry).

2010 was a step backwards, with only 344 translations (266 fiction, 78 poetry).

Everything got back on track in 2011 with 374 total translations coming out (304 fiction, 70 poetry).

2012 was another increase, and was the first time the total broke into the 400s. Specifically, 456 translations came out (386 fiction, 70 poetry).

And now, we’re up to 517 (427 fiction, 90 poetry). That’s a 50% increase from 2010, or, in actual terms, 173 more translations came out in 2013 than in 2010. Seems unbelievable . . .

Someone asked me about this increase the other day, and from looking at the list of publishers, it looks like two things are contributing to this increase: publishers who have traditionally published literature in translation are now doing a couple more books every year, and there are far more publishers publishing books in translation than there were just a few years ago. (In 2010, 139 publishers did at least one translation. That number jumped to 187 in 2013.)

Anecdotally, it does seem that writing students in this country are a lot more interested in being influenced by world literature than has been the case previously. Which can only be a good thing, since, in my opinion, that’s where the majority of the interesting work is being done these days.


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This might be useful in my new endeavour of getting my local bookstore to carry publishers like Archipelago and Open Letter not that they finally carry Dalkey and Melville House. I’m also leaning on the liberal Vermonters love learning about world culture (even if I don’t care for that as the main motivator for reading translation…).

This is certainly good news. I just hope all these translations include a few from Portuguese.

Miquel, a quick ctrl+f of the database shows 12 from Portuguese.

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