7 Books in 1 Year, and Why More Authors Should Translate

Here are a couple of stories from some of our favorite translation-focused blogs out there. First of all, Chad Post at Three Percent highlights the amazing achievement of Antonia Lloyd-Jones, who received the 2012 Found in Translation Award for the 7 (seven!) books she translated in 2012. Per the press release:

The Polish Book Institute, the Polish Cultural Institute London, and the Polish Cultural Institute New York are delighted to announce that the winner of the 2012 Found in Translation Award is Antonia Lloyd-Jones. Usually the award is given for a single book, but this year the jury made an exception and decided to give the award to Ms Lloyd-Jones for the entirety of her output from the previous year. . . .

The complete list of translations by Antonia Lloyd-Jones published in 2012 includes:

Paweł Huelle Cold Sea Stories (Comma Press, 2012).
Jacek Dehnel Saturn (Dedalus Press, 2012).
Zygmunt Miłoszewski A Grain of Truth (Bitter Lemon Press, 2012).
Artur Domosławski Ryszard Kapuściński, A Life (Verso Books, 2012).
Wojciech Jagielski The Night Wanderers (Seven Stories & Old Street Publishing, 2012).
Andrzej Szczeklik Kore: On Sickness, the Sick and the Search for the Soul of Medicine (Counterpoint Press, 2012).
Janusz Korczak Kaytek the Wizard (Urim Publications/Penlight Press, 2012).

As Chad notes, “There are established, talented translators who haven’t published seven books in their entire life, much less in one year.” Indeed, in’s a little staggering that Lloyd-Jones managed to line up 7 viable translation projects in just one year and to have translated the books well enough to win an award for her work. Certainly the Polish government and Poland’s presses must be doing something right to land so many of their books with English-language presses. Though, this isn’t quite a surprise: as Chad’s Translation Database shows, Poland perennially ranks among the top nations in terms of getting its books translated.

And then at the Literary Saloon, Michael Orthofer makes the case that more young U.S. authors should translate:

I have long maintained that translation is a great exercise for writers of fiction — and continue to argue that it would do most would-be authors a whole lot more good to translate a good foreign-language text (or, preferably, several) than to get an MFA (from a purely technical/creative/writing point of view; the social and professional benefits of MFAing are, of course, something else — but also have very little to do with actual writing). Certainly, I wish that more US/UK fiction writers would engage in this most direct and intimate of ways with foreign texts (preferably fiction-texts, not the stuff Mitchell and Franzen spent their time on …).

Indeed, this is something that poets have done for decades (if not centuries) in order to improve their art, so it stands to reason to fiction writers could benefit as well (to say nothing of how being exposed to other national literatures might break them out of the dull MFA novel genre that continues to proliferate throughout the US writing scene).

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