Thursday, 11 May 2017

Translation from Nowhere

In The Bookseller, a report of a talk by A L. Kennedy in which she excoriated publishers for their aversion to books in translation, noting that less than 5% of books published in Britain are translated from another language:
In part of an address originally given at European Literature Night, hosted by the British Library, the Royal Society of Literature and EUNIC, on the future of European writing, Kennedy passionately argued that writers have a responsibility “to resist” and to “say more and more often” on behalf of all “citizens of Nowhere”.  Prime minister Theresa May used the phrase at the Conservative Party Conference in October, when she equated being a “citizen of the world” with being “a citizen of nowhere”. It refers to the poor, the sick, the old, the refugees, the immigrants, the non-white, the non-Christian and the non-compliant, Kennedy said.
Kennedy said British publishing’s aversion to risk meant it currently had “little appetite” for foreign works, especially since the abolition of the Net Book Agreement which fixed prices for books, which she lamented had led publishers “into a territory of simple calculations, of profit and loss”. In the UK, translators are “particularly poorly rewarded”, she added, and their positions “always insecure” - a state of affairs that limits the range of literature UK readers are exposed to.

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