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“In May 2018, Olga Tokarczuk and her translator Jennifer Croft won the Man Booker International Prize for Flights, a novel that was published in Poland in 2007. Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, for which Tokarczuk is a Booker finalist again this year, was translated a bit faster; it only took a decade. One of the biggest stars in translation of this century, Roberto Bolaño, author of 2666 and The Savage Detectives, fared no better. Back in 2003, when New Directions put out his first translated book, By Night in Chile, Bolaño had already passed away; he was a famous writer by then, at least in Spanish.
The process of literary translation takes time, obviously, but there’s something else at play when it takes a decade or more for incredibly renowned authors to reach our shores. This is part of a much larger problem, frequently referred to as the “3 percent problem” by publishers of translation (like myself), which should be troublesome to anyone who believes the world is better off when cultures are in conversation with one another.
In an industry — publishing — that loves data about as much as a vegan digs barbecues, numbers are not normally dwelled upon. Whereas we can know to the dollar how much money Avengers: Endgame has made, almost in real time, book sales are guesstimates based on Nielsen BookScan’s admittedly incomplete reporting. So it was a big deal when a study back in 2005 — initiated by PEN World Voices — announced that less than 3 percent of all the books published in English were originally written in another language. Here was a number that was not only verifiable, but dire, and it raised a lot of questions about how broad and deep American book culture really is.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"India’s water crisis offers a striking reminder of how climate change is rapidly morphing into a climate emergency. Piped water has run dry in Chennai, the southern state of Tamil Nadu’s capital, and 21 other Indian cities are also facing the..."
"Such a blackout is coming. It is only a matter of time. Again, leaving aside the growing threats of cyber and terrorist attacks upon our power grid, the fact of the matter is that much of our grid is antiquated junk desperately in need of billion."
"In Israel’s early years—even earlier, in fact, during the decades leading up to independence—the kibbutz played an integral role in creating the country’s economic and political infrastructure. Based on a shared economy and hard work..."
"Scarlett Johansson became something of a conservative hero on Friday for speaking out against identity politics. She told As If magazine, in quotes excerpted by the Daily Mail, “You know, as an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or..."
"During the 2012 presidential election, there occurred one of those remarkably rare moments when campaign rhetoric actually clarified a large issue. It happened when Barack Obama, speaking without a written text, spoke from his heart and..."
"IN FEBRUARY, LEAKED software code predicted the demise of the back button on the latest version of Google's Android smartphone. Apple did away with the iPhone's home button in 2017. LG’s latest handset allows users to control their devices..."
"I am in the mosh pit of West Hollywood’s El Rey Theatre, jangly from two cups of Zoe Ministries’ excellent self-branded coffee. Twenty 20-somethings in mom jeans, sneakers, and colorful baggy shirts are singing Disney-radio-inflected anthems..."
"Before the advent of scientific evidence and philosophical guidance on the subject, literary odes to the creative and health benefits of walking flourished. No one has been more tireless in reviving the history of exhortations to join the “Order..."
"Facebook and Twitter feeds were buzzing with discussion after the late-May New York Times article declaring that millennials are no longer interested in marriage. The article’s popularity can be attributed, in part, to the uncomfortable truth it..."
"The run happened — or didn’t — maybe five days into the raw-diet experiment. I had formed a sort of fitness pact with a friend to forgo cooked food, and after days of nothing but salads, almonds, sashimi and black coffee, my body felt taut and..."
"Humans have long sought the elixir of youth, so it is not surprising that even non-scientists closely follow the latest research into aging. But is what most people consider simply a fact of life actually a “disease” that can be cured? Or is..."
"It’s no secret that many Jews are struggling to keep up. More and more, middle and even upper-middle class Jews are finding religion to be an increasingly expensive component of their lives. My husband has a good job and I have a burgeoning..."