A new independent publishing house called Transit Books is single handedly responsible for translating some great international books into English. Currently, there is an issue with the big publishing houses because they are not willing to take the risk on a foreign language book even if they are widely popular in their native culture.
In a conversation with the owners of Transit Books they noted that there is a, “kind of partition between two types of readerships: those who read domestic literature and those who read translation.” This may be a good point to ask yourself which category you fall into. What do you read more, translated or domestic literature?
That may seem like an easy question but did you know that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was translated from Swedish? Anything you have ever read from Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, and Paulo Coelho have also been translated into English. If you are a fan of ancient historical or philosophical texts, most of them have been translated into English many years after their original publication.
Ashley and Adam Levy decided to help bridge the gap between the two spheres of readers by making foreign literature more available in America. One way to do that is to make translators a bigger part of the publication process. Adam said in their interview with Guerinca that, “translators have historically received the short end of the stick…They don’t offer royalties, [and] don’t put their names on the cover.” Basically, big publishing houses would rather the reader not know the text has been translated from another language.
Another aspect of the project is based on the “incredible, innovative literature written in other languages.” Their argument is that there are so many great books out there that never make it to the wider English speaking audience simply because publishing houses cannot find a way to make a profit. This is not necessarily meant to bash the big houses, but as a small publisher Transit Books is willing and able to take on more risk. If you are interested in discovering some books you definitely have never heard of you can check out their library at transitbooks.org.
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