When I was a child, a fair whack of the books I read were translations – either from the classics like The Arabian Knights, Anansi or Heidi to contemporary stuff like The King of the Copper Mountain or the Moomins.
I don’t think the same is true any more. Apart from Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart and Tonke Dragt’s The Letter to the King, I’m hard pressed to think of a popular book that wasn’t written in English. How has this happened? In London you can find native speakers of almost any language on Earth, but you’d be hard pressed to find any of the literature of those languages. Publishing – maybe the English language – seems to be becoming a one way street. Given the recent decline in the teaching of modern languages in our schools, it’s a one way street that may soon become a cul-de-sac.
… …Writers are campaigning at the moment to make our children’s books reflect the diversity of our society. It’s called DiversityMatters. But surely real diversity involves listening as well as talking, translating as well as writing. So to those of you reading this whose first language is not English – what are we missing? What books were written in your native tongue that never made it to ours?
As reported in The Bookseller
Outside in World, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes children’s books in translation, is launching a new initiative to bring inclusive and accessible books from around the world to the UK.
The Reading the Way project is aimed at making UK publishers aware of books for children aged five to 11 that are either accessible (suitable for children with learning difficulties or additional needs) or inclusive (have differently abled characters in the story), and are originally published in languages other than English.
Alexandra Strick, one of the founders of Outside In World, said: “This is still a particularly under-supported area within the UK children’s book industry and all too often children with additional needs are effectively excluded. The needs of many young people, such as those with speech and language difficulties, learning difficulties or sensory impairments, are largely overlooked by mainstream books.”
The organisation is currently sourcing books from around the world using a variety of methods, either through local IBBY groups (the International Board on Books for Young People) or word of mouth.
Outside in World has a team of translators to translate the best books into English and in September it will start testing the books with schools and charities, including the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). It will then approach publishers to see if they are interested in taking them on.
“We will eventually have a list of about 20 exceptional titles,” she said. “We hope publishers will gain valuable insight into accessible and inclusive books but of course we also hope some of the books will be published in the UK.”
Strick hopes to reveal the results of the project in 2015 in time for both the Bologna Book Fair in March and the London Book Fair in April.
Two years after acquiring U.K.-based Pushkin Press, known for its well-produced translations of foreign literature, publisher and managing director Adam Freudenheim and associate publisher and COO Stephanie Seegmuller are beginning to more fully realize their goal – “to bring more of the best writers, admired and often bestselling in their own countries, to British and American readers,” said Freundenheim in a statement when he announced the purchase. This month the company is publishing its first children’s books in the U.S. under a new Pushkin Children’s Books imprint.
ACHUKA makes a special point of highlighting and recommending books in translation, both for children and adults. Here is the longlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2014:
Sinan Antoon The Corpse Washer (Arabic; translated by the author) Yale University Press
Hassan Blasim The Iraqi Christ (Arabic; trans. Jonathan Wright) Comma Press
Julia Franck Back to Back (German; trans. Anthea Bell) Harvill Secker
Sayed Kashua Exposure (Hebrew; trans. Mitch Ginsberg) Chatto & Windus
Hiromi Kawakami Strange Weather in Tokyo (Japanese; trans. Allison Markin Powell) Portobello Books
Karl Ove Knausgaard A Man in Love (Norwegian; trans. Don Bartlett) Harvill Secker
Andrej Longo Ten (Italian; trans. Howard Curtis) Harvill Secker
Ma Jian The Dark Road (Chinese; trans. Flora Drew) Chatto & Windus
Andreï Makine Brief Loves that Live Forever (French; trans. Geoffrey Strachan) MacLehose Press
Javier Marías The Infatuations (Spanish; trans. Margaret Jull Costa) Hamish Hamilton
Hubert Mingarelli A Meal in Winter (French; trans. Sam Taylor) Portobello Books
Yoko Ogawa Revenge (Japanese; trans. Stephen Snyder) Harvill Secker
Audur Ava Ólafsdóttir Butterflies in November (Icelandic; trans. Brian FitzGibbon) Pushkin Press
Jón Kalman Stefánsson The Sorrow of Angels (Icelandic; trans. Philip Roughton) MacLehose Press
Birgit Vanderbeke The Mussel Feast (German; trans. Jamie Bulloch) Peirene Press
This year, the judges for the £10,000 award – divided equally between author and translator, and supported once more by Arts Council England, Booktrust and Champagne Taittinger – had a higher-than-ever mountain to climb: 126 books, a record entry, translated from 30 different languages. Joining me on the ascent are author, broadcaster and Independent columnist Natalie Haynes, ‘Best of Young British’ novelist Nadifa Mohamed, award-winning translator Shaun Whiteside, and artist, writer and academic Alev Adil.
Our long-list of 15 reveals a fictional eco-system of staggering diversity.
Favourite feature from the weekend press:
In translation: nine authors pick their favourite children’s fiction
It’s easy for children in the UK to miss out on the wonderful books published overseas. Here, nine children’s authors introduce the books they love
Have you read any good books in translation recently?
We’re always looking out for titles to recommend on our In Translation picks page…
Winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. “A wonderful novel. Wise and generous to a fault of all our human failings and frailties” (Lloyd Jones, author of Mister Pip).
In recognition of a commitment to bringing exciting and original books from around the world to the UK b small publishing have been awarded a publishing grant from the Literature Translation Institute of Korea.
The grant has been awarded in support of a new title – Creative Hand Art – due for publication in August this year.
As part of their autumn programme for 2013, b small will be publishing activity books from France, Chile and Korea. This is a new direction for the independent children’s publisher intended to complement their existing and continuing commitment to foreign language publishing, with a focus on culturally diverse activity books.
“This grant is a reassuring vote of confidence in our work and we’re extremely proud to be collaborating with LTI Korea. Our forward programme is made up of a healthy mix of foreign and home-grown titles, all of which embraces the idea that activity books can be artistic and inspiring whilst remaining fun and affordable.” – Sam Hutchinson, Director
Dutch writer Gerbrand Bakker has won this year’s £10,000 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize with his novel The Detour, published by Harvill Secker.
It is the author’s second major literary prize win; his previous novel, The Twin, won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2010.
Bakker will share the prize money with the title’s translator, David Colmer
Also on the shortlist:
The Fall of the Stone City by Ismail Kadare, translated from the Albanian by John Hodgson (Canongate)
Croatian author Dasa Drndic’s Trieste, translated by Ellen Elisa-Bursac (Maclehose Press)
Chris Barnard’s Bundu, translated from Afrikaans by Michiel Heyns (Alma Books)
Dublinesque by Enrique Vila-Matas, translated from the Spanish by Rosalind Harvey and Anne McLean (Harvill Secker)
David Almond welcomes a new publishing imprint by Pushkin books which will concentrate solely on international children’s fiction
Millions of children are missing out on the best books in the world because so few are translated into English, according to award-winning children’s author David Almond.
The Felling-born novelist, whose book Skellig won the Carnegie Medal in 1998 and was made into a film starring Tim Roth, said more needed to be done to bring international best-sellers to this country after figures showed translated fiction accounts for less than 3% of all books sold in the UK.
Almond, who lives in Northumberland, said: “Children need to read the best books by the best writers from all parts of the world. Of course they do.
“But the plain fact is that there is very little translated children’s fiction published in the UK, and our children are missing out.”
He said the launch of a new publishing imprint by Pushkin books which will concentrate solely on international children’s fiction was “a bold new venture”.