DV Goes German & Translation in the Pacific Standard

German Book Office New York

Deep Vellum is going to Germany!

Courtesy of the fine folks in the German Book Office in New York, Deep Vellum has been invited to participate in this summer’s Editors’ Trip to Germany! For a week in June,  I will get the chance to meet with editors from all of Germany’s many publishing houses across the country, starting in Berlin and ending in Frankfurt, to gain an understanding of what makes each publishing house in Germany unique, what types of literature each house’s editorial style favors, and which authors Deep Vellum should be publishing. You can read more about past Editors’ Trips at Publishers’ Weekly or the Frankfurt Book Fair blog, it seems like an unparalleled opportunity to gain a richer understanding of German literature and to meet fellow editors fighting the good fight in Germany, and the chance to develop long-lasting relationships that will hopefully go far in getting more German books published in English. AND I can’t wait to meet my fellow American editors who have been selected for this year’s trip as well!

And while I read seemingly dozens of articles in praise of translation or condemning Americans’ lack of reading translations every week (and I keep being invited to write these myself, and I find myself increasingly wary, trying to find the new narrative in the midst of all the talk and turmoil), it’s always refreshing to read one that just flat-out praises those doing it right, like the end of this article, “You’re Missing Out on Great Literature,” by Anna Clark in the magazine Pacific Standard:

For a nation that takes pride in its immigrant history and its multicultural sensibility, the hostility to translated literature is downright bizarre—and not at all serving American readers. This country, after all, is hardly monolingual, and great numbers of us have intense curiosity about the wider world.

The good news is that extraordinary literature in translation is published by a handful of top-of-the-line independent publishers. I’m particularly a fan of the work released by Europa Editions and Open Letter Books. I’m eternally grateful to Europa for publishing Alina Bronsky, the Russian-German author, and Elena Ferrante of Italy, whose novels are among the best I’ve read in years. I want to put them in the hands of everyone I know. Meanwhile, Open Letter’s list includes the classic Catalan writer Mercè RodoredaDubravka Ugresic, the Croatian essayist and fiction writer; and Alejandro Zambra, who is celebrated as the greatest of Chile’s young generation of writers.

Dalkey Archive Press is another strong force in enriching our literature, with its Best European Fiction series and important translations of, for example, Jung Young-Moon of Korea. Archipelago Books publishes beautiful editions of the likes of Karl Ove Knausgaard of Norway andMircea Cărtărescu of Romania. And the eclectic list of Melville House includes crime fiction from Poland, novellas from Italy, “Arctic adventure” from France, and revolutionary drama from Iran.

In response to the persistent and puzzling absence of literature in translation from mainstream media, other lively outlets emerged to fill the void: World Literature TodayAsymptote, the Quarterly Conversation, and the blogs Three Percent and the Literary Saloon are among the best. The beautiful magazine Words Without Borders just celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Cheers Anna, I couldn’t agree more. I’m reading Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend right now, the second of her books I’ve read, and it is breathtaking.

I’m also reading the anthology In Translation: Translators on Their Work and What It Means edited by Esther Allen and Susan Bernofsky, and man, it reminds me why I started doing this in the first place: TRANSLATION. I love the act of translation, I believe in translation, and I want to support translators in their craft forevermore. It is a great book, with so many interesting voices, experiences, and opinions within.

Thank you, translators, all of you, thank you.

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