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Literary translation

Literary translation is a highly imbalanced field. So many books are translated from English into other languages, but sadly only a select few works from around the world are translated into English. Bookshops in non-English-speaking countries sell large numbers of books which were originally written in English, but you have to look very carefully to find any translated literature at all in a UK bookshop. J.K. Rowling and E.L. James are familiar names around the world. In contrast, how many people in English-speaking countries have read the work of Nobel prize-winning Patrick Modiano, or best-selling Russian writer Boris Akunin? The disproportionately huge demand for translations of English books into other languages, compared to the meagre offering of writing translated into English, would be understandable if literature from around the world was in any way inferior to the work of English-speaking authors, but this is most certainly not the case. There is a whole treasury of amazing literature out there, and it is constantly being supplemented by talented authors writing in a vast range of languages.

Along with many other like-minded translators, organisations and readers devoted to the promotion of world literature, it is my aim, step by step, to dismantle the language barrier surrounding so much good literature and uncover the hidden gems behind it.

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One response »

  1. Guiliana Fabiano

    I wholeheartedly agree with you! I would so love to read my grandson all the fairytales of the world, if only I could FIND them. I’ve gotten everything in English I could find…

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