The world’s biggest kung fu fantasy writer, Jin Yong enjoys huge popularity in the Chinese-speaking world. In the west, however, his name is barely known, largely due to the complexity of the world he has created and the puzzle that has posed for translators.
Now, for the first time, the beginning of his extraordinarily popular series, Legends of the Condor Heroes, has been translated into English for a mainstream readership. It is a task that has already defeated several translators, yet Anna Holmwood, 32, from Edinburgh has managed it – or at least the first volume. Her British publisher, MacLehose Press, plans a 12-volume series, with Holmwood’s first volume, A Hero Born, due out in February.
It was a pleasure once again to be invited to Books In Translation at Europe House, the culminating event of The Children’s Bookshow, now in its 15th year.
Nicolette Jones was in conversation (discussing “What makes a book a good candidate for translation and what are the steps needed to launch it into the world”) with
- Ulla Saar and Kätlin Vainola (Estonian illustrator and author team)
- Adam Freudenheim, publisher at Pushkin Press
- Jen Shenton, manager of Waterstones Trafalgar Square
- Emma Langley, from Arts Council England
In the second discussion, which I attended, Sara Dugdale, poet & translator, was in conversation with
This was a delightfully “baggy talk” (Dugdale’s own description) with each of the participants given space to contribute. Ostashevsky, who has lived in America since the age of 10, told us his experience of Soviet literature was as a Soviet child, and that when he was growing up the offerings were old-fashioned and traditional. He remembered versions of Don Quixote and (this surprised the audience) Rabelais. These he conceded were recreations and abridgements rather than true translations.
Alexis Deacon, unsurprisingly, said his taste as a child had already been visual. He particularly enjoyed the French comics Lucky Luke, despite not having a clue what the words said.
Ostashevsky said that in Russia children’s literature has historically provided a source of income for poets and artists unable to sustain themselves by their adult-related endeavours.
Timo Parvela, who painted a gloomy picture of children’s literature in Finland (plummeting sales, an audience more interested in games than books) said that he has been writing for 30 years but that it was only two years ago that his work was first translated into English, for a New Zealand publisher (Bicycling to the Moon Gecko Press).
The Children’s Bookshow, headed up by Sian Williams, is an organisation that arranges an annual tour of children’s authors and illustrators. The tour takes place in the autumn and coincides with Children’s Book Week. It is funded by Arts Council England and private trusts, including the Unwin Charitable Trust.
Niolette Jones, speaking after the talk sessions, told those assembled the good news that the Bookshow has received Arts Council funding for a further four years.
The aim of The Children’s Bookshow is to foster a lifelong love of literature in children by bringing them the best writers and illustrators to inspire and guide them. The first Children’s Bookshow came about as a way of celebrating some of the books and authors that were featured in a book entitled Simply the Best Books for Children, published in 2003 by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education. The event was such a success that, the following year, a second tour was organised. And now the fifteenth.
The latest release from The New York Review Children’s Collection, a highly recommended series of red-cloth-spined hardbacks.
Originally published in 1989 as Der satanarchaolugenialkohllische Wunschpunsch this is both a fast-paced fantasy and a whimsical satire of bureaucracy and its discontents. It’s estimated that Ende’s books have sold more than 35 million copies worldwide.
The third album created by Ferri and Conrad continuing the legacy of Asterix more than 58 years after its creation.
A wonderful picture book by a Belgian author-illustrator team from the wonderful Book Island, an indie publisher (originally from New Zealand but now based in Bristol) with high production values focused on building bridges between cultures.
Rosemary would rather be given roller skates than a fairy’s wand. She’d prefer to be a witch than a fairy. And so she decides to run away and join the witches to do witchy things. She enjoys herself a great deal but eventually decides to take the best of both worlds and become a witchfairy.
Originally published as Heksenfee, the translation has been published with financial support from Flanders Literature.
ACHUKA is committed to promoting children’s books in translation. All books in translation added to our listings will also appear in the News section of the blog to maximise exposure.
This is a bestselling Spanish children’s book about nature, friendship imagination and art, now available in a beautifully presented English language translation from Neem Tree Press.
The trees are disappearing and the adults don’t care. Toletis, his dog Amenophis and friends Claudia and Tutan are on a mission to turn their little valley town, set deep in the mountains, lusciously green again. The odds are stacked against them. Can they succeed …with some very unusual help?
Written with a deep appreciation for nature, art, language, music, friendship, family, the passing of time, old age, loneliness, and the importance of sitting still and reflecting on life.
As the cover says, apt for ages 7 to 107.
China’s publishers of children’s books have burst on to the international publishing scene as major players. Book Expo America in New York has had a significant Chinese presence since 2015, while Italy’s Bologna Book Fair, the premier childrens lit event in the book industry, has declared China itsguest of honor for 2018.
This past decade has become known as the golden age of publishing of children’s books in China. In 2003, the country had only 20 publishers specializing in children’s books. That number now has jumped to more than580. Some may consider the market saturated, but what we are seeing now is a switch to emphasizing quality over quantity and a focus on producing more original content.
In the year 2000, Harry Potter was translated into Chinese, sparking a major trend in importing translated children’s books from the West. In the years that followed, many foreign works became staples of children’s bookshelves, whether in translation or used for English practice.
Popular titles include Peppa Pig (which my neighbor’s five-year-old son in Changzhou absolutely loved), The Magic School Bus picture book, and Disney Baby Story Book. While these continue to outsell local works, there are a good number of Chinese authors of children’s books enjoying significant success. These include Shen Shixi, author of Dream of Being a Wolf King and a series of Animal Novels, and Leiou Huanxiang, author of Monster Master and Charlie IX & Dodomo. As the market continues to grow, I expect to see more and more Chinese authors stepping up to create quality content for kids.
As the owner and managing director of Pushkin Press, his mission in life is to sell translated literature from around the world to the English-speaking market. And many of the authors that he works with are Israeli and/or Jewish.
Last year saw the publication of Waking Lions, the second novel Pushkin has published by contemporary Israeli writer Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, who won the Sapir Prize for best debut with One Night, Markovitch. Her third novel will be published by Pushkin in 2018.
Since buying Pushkin in 2012, sales have grown tenfold, culminating in the publication of 60 striking-looking titles this year— up from fewer than 10 in 2011. He says he is lucky that many European countries are keen for books to be translated, so offer subsidies of up to 100 per cent of translation costs. In January, he will publish his first Estonian novel, taking up to 24 the number of languages translated.
Finding the right translator is an art in itself, involving sifting through samples to find the one most suitable. It’s more than just ensuring that nothing is lost in translation. “They make something read so smoothly that you are not even aware it’s a translation.”
Freudenheim, now 42, and his family are members of Belsize Square Synagogue. His three children Susanna, 13, Max, 12, and Nina, nine, are all big readers, sometimes acting as his test audience for a new book. When Max, (then aged eight) read the second half of Laura Watkinson’s translation of The Letter for the King, by veteran Dutch children’s writer Tonke Dragt in a single sitting, he knew it was going to be a hit. It sold so well, that it’s now in its eighth print run. Pushkin has recently published a third book by Dragt, The Song of Seven .
Children’s reading charity BookTrust is launching a new children’s books in translation initiative, called ‘In Other Words’, to encourage UK publishers to publish more works from around the world.
BookTrust will pay for sample translations from 10 outstanding works and present them to the UK publishing community in an event at the Bologna Book Fair.
BookTrust invites foreign publishers, agents and scouts to submit outstanding works of fiction for 6-12 year olds to a panel of expert judges who will select 10 titles for translation.
Chaired by literary critic, Nicolette Jones, the panel includes award winning translators Sarah Ardizzone and Daniel Hahn, Waterstones’ Florentyna Martin, Emma Langley from Arts Council England and BookTrust’s Director of Children’s Books Jill Coleman. The judges will select 10 outstanding entries, with up to 4 declared BookTrust In Other Words Honour Titles. A special event will be held at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair on 4th April 2017 showcasing the Honour Titles, with information about all 10 extracts included in a rights guide.
Any UK publisher acquiring rights to publish one of the texts will be given a £1500 grant per book from BookTrust to promote the author and translator with UK marketing, publicity and touring in the UK.
The project is funded by Arts Council England.
Submissions open on 1st September and close on 26th September. Full information about the project can be found at http://www.booktrust.org.uk/in-other-words
The project will be launched to UK publishers at an event on 4th October 2016. This will involve discussions around barriers to translation, and guidance on how best to work with authors and their translators when promoting books in the UK.
ACHUKA recommends two upcoming events organised by the Society of Authors:
Adventures in the real world: factual books and reading for pleasure
[ACHUKA reader discount being offered on this event]
19 July, 5.45-8pm, Waterstones Piccadilly, 203-206 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9HD
Children love reading about pirates, animals, robots, space, monsters… anything and everything wondrous and exciting. They love adventurous stories and bizarre inventions. And they don’t love it any less if what they read is true – so why does Reading for Pleasure so often focus on fiction?
Our panel of experts discusses the huge benefits of reading factual books for pleasure, engaging young readers who might not enjoy fiction, and broadening the horizons of those who do. Jenny Broom is a publisher at Quarto, producers of the award-winning Atlas of Adventures; Dawn Finch is President of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, a vociferous library campaigner, trained librarian and children’s author; Nicola Morgan, Society of Authors’ Children’s Writers and Illustrator Group Chair, author of award-winning novels, factual books and an expert in the science of readaxation and reading for wellbeing; and Zoe Toft of the Federation of Children’s Books Groups, an independent children’s book consultant who oversees Non-Fiction November. Chaired by Anne Rooney, author of around 150 children’s information books on many subjects and Chair of the Society of Authors’ Educational Writers Group.
The talk will be followed by a drinks reception.
Tickets for Achuka readers cost £10 online booking as SoA members using an offer code SOA16
or £12 offline by calling the Society of Authors on 0207 373 6642.
Please quote event code 571.
and coming up in the autumn:
Diverse voices: children’s literature in translation
20 October 2016, 2-4pm, English Speaking Union, Dartmouth House, 37 Charles Street, London, W1J 5ED.
Some of the most loved children’s books in the UK have been translated into English from their original language – Pippi Longstocking, Emil and the Detectives, Heidi, as well as Tintin and Asterix. Despite this, translated literature makes up a very small percentage of the total number of children’s books published in the UK each year. In a globalised world, where intercultural exchange is widespread and multi-faceted, this lack of access to children’s literature which has been produced outside the English-speaking world could be seen as a problematic gap in young people’s cultural education; as Skellig author David Almond puts it: “children need to read the best books by the best writers from all parts of the world… (or) our children are missing out.”
After the discussion with panellists Annie Eaton (Penguin Random House), Gill Evans (Walker Books), Sarah Odedina (Pushkin Press) and chair Joy Court (Schools Library Services) the shortlist for the 2017 Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation will be announced.
Refreshments (tea and cakes) will be served.
Tickets are £10, with a concession of £5 available for students.Book now