Monday, November 26, 2007
Why That's No Ghost, It's....
Saturday, November 24, 2007
New From Ben & Jerry's: "Minty Badger"
One rather timely thing Europa's website mentions, and which I hadn't heard about: a couple weeks ago the first World Literature and Translation Summit took place under the aegis of the Miami Book Fair. No Youtube links, alas. I really do wish more panels would upload footage; there's no need anymore for audiences to be limited to the number of folding chairs a convention room contains.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Hmm, I Don't Know.... Does Sudoku Count?
Well, it turns out my dread now has some statistics to quantify it:
In stark contrast to publishing throughout the rest of the globe, translated fiction accounts for only a tiny fraction of the books published in the English-speaking world. In Germany 13% of books are translations. In France it's 27%, in Spain 28%, in Turkey 40% and in Slovenia 70%, but in Britain and America the best estimates suggest that the fraction of books on the shelves which started off in another language is somewhere around two per cent. One measure of the lack of interest in translated literature from both government and the industry is that Britain is the only country in Europe that doesn't produce any statistics on translation.Two percent?... They must be referring to the UK there, because I'd call that figure generous for the US.
It's a state of affairs described by translators as "shocking", "pathetic", "scandalous". And according to Esther Allen, the executive director of Columbia University's Centre for Literary Translation, the crisis may be even deeper in fiction. "The number of novels being published in translation is ridiculously small - in the hundreds each year," she says. "If you sort out the authors who are already globally validated - Nobel winners and so on - and the retranslations of the classics, then it's absurd."
There's plenty more over at Dezeen blog, which broke the story:
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Books on the Dismemberment Plan
Malcolm writes: "She seemed to shine when she walked into a room, and the work, even at its most hermetic, possesses a glitter that keeps one reading long past the time when it is normal to stop reading a text that makes no sense." This shine, this special something, is related to the mystery of how Stein and her girlfriend, Alice B. Toklas, two aging Jewish lesbians living in France, survived the Nazis—a friend of theirs was a bad guy, "one of the very worst guys," Malcolm writes—which is the focus of the first section of the book. In the second section, Malcolm reads (and reports back on, since almost no one has read it, including academics) Stein's The Making of Americans. "I finally solved the problem of the book's weight and bulk," Malcolm writes, "by taking a kitchen knife and cutting it into six sections."
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Digging around a little, I came across a brilliant modern variation on the idea: a 2004 San Diego Union-Tribune article on the R. Spot Barber & Books, a black bookstore-barbershop-poetry slam combo:
Creating such a haven was R. Spot owner James Richards' goal when the shop opened 17 months ago. Richards is 39, grew up in San Diego's Chollas Creek neighborhood and still has never cut hair. In the shop, he is the DJ, plucking rare records from crates and shelves and spinning them on a dual turntable system.... "We need black bookstores. Too many of them close down. I wanted to bring the books to the people. I've always been an activist. When I was a kid, my dad took me to Rob's Barber Shop, on Euclid Avenue. I heard all the cats there talking about black issues. That was a special time for me."
Sadly, the R. Spot is no more: it closed in 2005, after gentrification and new building owners jacked the rent from $1550 to $3860 per month.
Riding on a Moonbeam
Other winners include McSweeney's 826 National and U. Iowa Press, so she's in some fine company!