Thursday 2 October 2014

Guest Post: Philip Chadha on GloBooks & Translated Fiction

GloBooks is a new international book review site. It is a place where readers with a passion for great fiction by international writers can connect with each other.  It often features works originally in languages other than English, but now available in translation, and heralding from all around the globe.

Philip Chadha founded GloBooks, and he is also heavily involved in the London-based Asian Book Club. He here writes about encouraging trends in the availability of translated fiction.

So: Over to Philip…

“If I said two names Jo Nesbo and Stieg Larsson, what would they mean to you? If you are a fan of crime fiction, then probably quite a lot. Larrson and Nesbo are literary stars, authors whose books have sold in their millions around the world. Larsson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo stormed best seller charts everywhere; Nesbo has produced a string of must-reads for any crime fiction fan. His novels The Police and, more recently, The Son have clocked up a bucket-load of sales from London to Sydney. For sure, Nordic noir has helped put translated fiction on the map.

Still, there is a wealth of great writers telling international stories that are high in cultural currency but low in popularity, both amongst English-language publishers and also amongst English-speaking readers. Unfortunately, translated fiction has long been perceived as the poorer cousin of English language literature.

But people are keen to expand their horizons, and perhaps things are about to change? In a recent article in The Observer newspaper (UK), journalist Dalya Alberge highlights a market report recently published by Literature Across Frontiers, a group furthering literary exchange, translation and policy debate within Europe. Talking about the UK, its director, Alexandra Büchler, is quoted as saying literary translations have grown by some 18% over 20 years. UK Publishers also reported an increase in sales. Adam Freudenheim, director of Pushkin Press, a London-based house which specialises in translated fiction, told Alberge: 'Sales doubled last year and are on track to double or even triple this year.'

It’s not just the small presses making a success of translated fiction; some major publishers are also doing sterling work. Penguin are soon to launch Turkish novelist Elif Shafak`s new novel Architect`s Apprentice which is out in November. Shafak is a barn stormer of a writer with her books translated into 33 languages.

At GloBooks we too are doing our bit to promote fiction in translation.  We cover books from everywhere - including, of course, Asia. We will be talking about  Architect`s Apprentice and, looking even further east, we were delighted recently to feature Indian writer Deepti Kapoor’s well-received debut novel Bad Character - click here to see our discussion."