Fiction in Translation
Did you read a book of fiction translated from a foreign language in the last year? If so, you may count yourself a member of a very small coterie of American readers. Believe it or not, books translated from a foreign language account for a mere 3% of annual book sales in the United States. As Bill Morris of the Daily Beast explained in an excellent analysis last month, publishers seldom take a chance on a non-English-speaking writer for a number of reasons, including “the cost of paying translators, the elusiveness of a reliable audience, and the difficulty of mounting a publicity campaign if the author is not fluent in English.”
The publishing industry misses rather a lot, obviously, due to this preference for Anglophone voices. We at Mrs. Dalloway’s are fighting this sad state of affairs by promoting a number of lesser-known foreign writers whose work we enjoy (keep an eye out for staff favorites Eduardo Halfon, Jean Echenoz and Javier Marias on our paperback fiction table).
We also carry a couple of cool journals (pictured above) in our magazine section that are great for anyone looking to get acquainted with the work of foreign writers. Two Lines Press publishes a bi-annual magazine (simply called Two Lines) highlighting the poetry and short fiction of up-and-coming writers from across the globe. We’ve also recently started carrying Music and Literature, a periodical dedicated to showcasing portfolios of international writers, artists and musicians. “Each issue is a gem,” raves Juan Vidal of NPR. He continues: “[Music and Literature] is especially useful for those of us interested in breaking… parochial reading habits and looking more globally.”
If that strikes you as a worthy goal, come see us here at the store. We’ll be expecting you.