Friday, August 03, 2007

Just Another 3 Percenter

Why was I shocked to learn that a mere three percent of all books published in these United States every year are works of translation? Clearly this is not a market that yields high grosses and really who wants to read Arabic poetry or the latest metaphysical crime story from Latin America? Well, there are a few of us here who do, so thank god for the good people at Rochester and Chad Post (formerly of the wonderful, sort of local Dalkey Archive Press ( )) for their combined efforts to create this:

Yes, Open Letter, the new publishing house out of the University of Rochester will fix its focus solely on translated works starting with a book by the wonderful Dubravka Ugresic. I read her book Thank You For Not Reading, which amused me greatly, and then Lend Me Your Character, which I was pretty damn crazy about। I am especially looking forward to this press launching since they have chosen Ugresic as their flagship author. And the mission statement makes me wish I went to Rochester and studied language and translation. I have slacked in my Spanish. I couldn’t conceive of translating the simplest sentences into workable English. Que lastima.

Open Letter is going to be alive and kicking next fall, but in the meantime Post and the Rochester gang offer this:

Three Percent refers to the above-mentioned number of works in translation published each year in this increasingly culturally insulated country. (I am being unfair. There are plenty of culturally aware readers of translated texts/viewers of foreign films/lovers of foreign culture/students of international practices, religions and customs. I am basing my simplistic statements on the seemingly overwhelming evidence presented by television and magazine covers. Shame on me. Forgive the leftist nature of this post; I know you all are going to run out and read Ugresic the day it comes out, right? Just like you’ll line up for the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation of War and Peace। Good. Let’s move on.) It is a blog for all your world literature news and needs. Kudos to the gang back East.

And don’t forget to go to: and read some newly translated literature। As most of the 3 people who come here know, I’m interning for this site right now, so it is close to my heart. But it would’ve been anyway because it is a good site with great content, which is more than I can say for a lot of this here internet(s).

Okay, that’s the world lit news from me today. Back to your waking lives, people.