Words Without Borders

The NY Times published an article yesterday about a relatively new literary journal that publishes only translated prose. It is called Words Without Borders: www.wordswithoutborders.org.

Why is such a journal important? As the journal itself notes:

    Few literatures have truly prospered in isolation from the world. English-speaking culture in general and American culture in particular has long benefited from cross-pollination with other worlds and languages. Thus it is an especially dangerous imbalance when, today, 50% of all the books in translation now published worldwide are translated *from English,* but only 6% are translated *into* English.

When so little text is translated into English, publishers tend to limit their resources to only the most famous authors. This journal aims to introduce not only new authors, but a wider range of material. I enjoyed this quote from the Times article:

    “We tend to think of translation as great literary work,” said Esther Allen, chairwoman of the PEN translation committee and translator of the recently published “Dancing With Cuba,” a well-received literary memoir by Alma Guillermoprieto about the Communist revolution there. “Other people are writing history, political analysis and mass-market detective novels. Maybe we should read their junk, too. At least there would be more of an interchange.”

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