The Man Booker International prize: a celebration of translation

On Monday evening, the inaugural winners of the new Man Booker International prize will be named, rewarding the best translated novel of the year, a high-profile acclamation with a generous prize pot split evenly between translator and original author. And as part of this welcome focus, the MBIP has commissioned research from Nielsen into how the increasing number of works of translated literature actually sell. The headline data is still only partial, but promising: in the past 15 years, while the overall fiction market has stagnated, translated fiction sales have apparently increased by 96%. And today’s translations actually sell on average better than non-translations. But should we really be surprised?

All too often we translators discuss “translated fiction” as though it appeals only to a discerning but limited readership. A niche interest. Yet what we’re really talking about is every book from all of continental Europe and Latin America, from much of Africa and most of Asia. That’s quite some niche.

Read more: The Guardian

Translated fiction sells better in the UK than English fiction, research finds

Translated literary fiction is selling better on average in the UK than literary fiction originally written in English, according to new research, with authors including Elena Ferrante, Haruki Murakami and Karl Ove Knausgaard driving a boom in sales.

Though fiction in translation accounts for just 3.5% of literary fiction titles published, it accounted for 7% of sales in 2015, according to a survey commissioned by the Man Booker International prize.

The research, conducted by Nielsen Book, looked at physical book sales in the UK between January 2001 and April 2016. It found that translated fiction sales almost doubled over the last 15 years, from 1.3m to 2.5m copies, while the market for fiction as a whole fell from 51.6m in 2001 to 49.7m in 2015.

Although the proportion of translated fiction is still “extremely low”, at 1.5% overall, the sector still “punches well above its weight”, said the book sales monitor, with that 1.5% accounting for 5% of total fiction sales in 2015.

Read more: The Guardian

New book about the early history of the Welsh language finally published – in Welsh

It’s ironic, but until now, books about the early history of the Welsh language have not been available to read in Welsh.

Students often have to turn to English resources if they want to benefit from the latest research in the field.

Now a new e-book, published last week by a Russian academic sheds new light on the subject.

Llawlyfr Hen Gymraeg (‘Old Welsh Handbook’) by Dr Alexander Falileyev is the first comprehensive description of Old Welsh to be published in the Welsh language.

Old Welsh refers to the period between the ninth century and the early twelfth century in the history of the language.

Read more: Wales Online

Deadly games, a blaze, and a song: book titles in translation

Speaking from experience, it is often incredibly difficult to come up with a good title for a book. A buzzword we often use is ‘catchy’. But what makes for a catchy title? And what are the implications for other markets? Once you’ve decided on what you proudly think is the best book title anyone has ever come up with, your job is done. Or is it? Unfortunately, there’s a chance that somewhere in the world there’s a publisher who has acquired the translation rights for this great book with this even greater title. Then suddenly a brilliant translator informs them that a word for word translation won’t work: maybe a word or expression doesn’t exist in the target language, or the syntax is too different, or maybe it just wouldn’t appeal to the target market which has different cultural values, tastes, and preferences. Now what? You have to come up with something that works!

Read more: Oxford Dictionaries

How One Translator Unlocks Arabic Books for French Readers

Arabic literature is notoriously difficult to translate — not only for the complexity of the language but also for the variety of dialects and the challenge of making the prose accessible to Western readers. Arabic literary translators are few and far between, and the Arabic-to-English translators have become, in their world, akin to rock stars, thanks to the establishment in 2005 of the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic literary translation. In France, although translators are given more recognition — their names appear on the front covers of books, for example — many of the Arabic-to-French literary translators are less exposed, and no prize specifically for Arabic-to-French translation exists yet.

Stéphanie Dujols is one such translator. Based in Alexandria, Egypt, she says, “I’m far away from everything, sort of in my cave.”

Dujols translates an average of one to two novels a year, primarily for Actes Sud’s Sindbad collection run by Farouk Mardam-Bey. Her translations are outstanding: seamless, informed and sensitive. Her interest in Arabic began when she was young. She lived in Tunisia from age nine to fourteen, where she began to learn Arabic “in a not very serious way, moreover it was an era when everyone spoke French very well.”

Read more: Publishing Perspectives

Literature In Translation Makes Up 13 Percent Of ‘NYT’ Notable Books For 2015

The New York Times just released its list of the 100 most notable books of 2015, and there’s a lot of interesting shtoof going on. I’m excited to see that some of my favorite books — which I’m sure are some of your favorites, as well — made the list. But it’s more exciting to see that 13 percent of the New York Times list is made up of literature in translation.

That’s big news, because only 2 to 3 percent of English language publishing is devoted to translated books. Some authors, such as Haruki Murakami and Elena Ferrante, have managed to pull away from the pack, of course. English translations of their novels hit North America, the U.K., and the Commonwealth in a timely manner, and routinely wind up on best seller lists.

But for other authors, getting an English translation can be difficult. Then there’s the problem of getting readers to purchase the book, of getting reviews, of generating hype. It’s hard enough for an English-speaking writer to make a living out of fiction, but for authors whose work occupies a minuscule niche of publishing? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Read more: Bustle