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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.


Next Event

Come by and pick up a pocket poem!

All during National Poetry Month of April, Mrs. Dalloway’s will offer customers printed giveaway “pocket poems” selected by and featuring Bay Area poets George Albon, Bill Berkson, Maggie Glover, Miriam Bird Greenberg, Joanne Kyger, Raina J. León, Jacques J. Rancourt, Claire Scott (Rubin), Kevin Simmonds, and Bruce Snider.

Carry your pocket poem to unfold and share with family, friends, and co-workers on Thursday, April 30, National Poem in Your Pocket Day!

“Poetry is a way of looking at the world for the first time.”  —W.S. Merwin

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 - 10:00am to Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 9:00pm

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