New Translated Lit Project

Posted January 10, 2019 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 4 Comments

I have been wanting to do more to promote translated literature for a very long time. I have a blog, a podcast and have even attempted BookTube. My obsession grew from the need to step away from reading just American authors. My reading stats told me 95% of the reading I was doing was American, and I am an Australian. Starting with the 1001 Books list I quickly discovered Russian classics and then French philosophy. Soon I was challenging myself to read 20, then 50 percent translations.

It wasn’t until last year when I told myself ‘no reading goals’ that I discovered just how much I loved books in translation. I am exclusively reading world literature and if it wasn’t for book club, I might have avoided books originally written in English all together. So, with this newly found obsession, I began trying to learn more about the world of translated literature. I quickly discovered, for an outsider, it was difficult to know what was happening. The common statistic talked about when it comes to world lit is, 3 percent of all books published (in the English-speaking world) are translations. However, for an outsider just getting into translated lit, it felt smaller. To me it felt like most of that was classics; I was not aware of how much contemporary literature was being translated.

With this thought in mind, I started trying to think of ways I could help promote translated lit. I kept coming back to this idea of having a resource where I could find news and information about the world of translated lit. Granted there are sites out there doing their part but places like LitHub, Electric Literature and Book Riot only had a small focus. What if there was something similar but just for world lit?

I believe that we are on the verge of a break out when it comes to books in translation. So many people are trying to understand the world we live in, and people are reading more in translation as a result. The Man Booker International Prize (in its current form) is relatively new, and last year the National Book Award added a prize for translated literature. People are starting to take notice, and what happens when the need to learn more about what is happening in this corner of the literary world? It was with that in mind, the idea was formed for Translated Lit.

This is a huge project and what I would love to see is a resource that help guide people into this world. With news about what is happening, information about literary prizes, recommendations and even long form essays and reviews. A project like this will need voices from around the world, people passionate about translations that want to help share their passion and promote world literature. We need contributors and I do think with enough people, we can help guide anyone interested, we can be a resource for world literature.

My personal goals for 2019 were to write better and to promote translated literature. This felt like the best way to achieve both these goals and the reason for this site was to encourage others to participate. I don’t want this to be considered my site, I want this to be a collaboration and a tool for the people interested. I am still a newcomer to books in translation and I hope this will become a valuable tool for me as well.

With a few people already helping out, I believe we are off to a great start. I hope we can promote many aspects of world lit, offer the latest in news and even recommendations. I personally have ideas I would like to see happen on here, including a way to explore the site by country or publisher. Sometimes you want recommendations for a country, and this could be a way to help with that. Also, there are so many great small presses out there publishing books in translation, we want to be able to support them by promoting their books.

With that in mind, welcome to Translated Lit and please consider becoming a contributor. For established bloggers out there, if you have any essays or reviews that you would love to share, we would love to have that opportunity. We are still working on the design of the site and we want to be able to promote the writers as well as the content. This is to allow others to discover bloggers to follow based on their writing and literary tastes. Any help would be appreciated, and we look forward to making this the start of something great.

Check out Translated Lit

4 responses to “New Translated Lit Project

  1. Rob

    This is very cool. Looking forward to seeing how it develops. I do want to start reading more translated lit, and if that happens I’ll definitely see if I can contribute in some way.

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