foreign lit

The New York Times has an interesting article about foreign literature in translation. Why are there so few foreign books in translation in the US? Even with highly acclaimed writers, sales are dismal. The article also covers the weird mechanics by which a lack of translation into English affects a book’s sales in all other languages but its own:
“‘Since English is the lingua franca, translating a book into English puts it in a position to be translated into many different languages,’ said Esther Allen, a translator who is chairwoman of the PEN translation committee. ‘We’re the clogged artery that prevents authors from reaching readers anywhere outside their own country.’ ‘It’s a great paradox of American life,’ Ms. Allen said, ‘that on the one hand we feel very cosmopolitan, with Mexican restaurants and cab drivers who speak Swahili, and we feel that we inhabit a mind-boggling multicultural universe, but at the end of the day, it breaks down to different ways of being American.'”
Read America Yawns at Foreign Fiction.

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One Response to “foreign lit”

  1. Steve Scoles Says:

    It is too easy to forget that America is not just a country, it is a continent encompassing different timezones, different attitudes and different ways of speaking English. Americans have a lot to do just keeping up with their own diversity let alone what the rest of the planet offers. The important thing to remember is that what they miss is their loss. Don’t worry about it.

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