Novels and bestsellers written in English often get translated into many languages, yet the reverse is seldom accomplished in equal volume. According to the founders of Three Percent, a resource for international literature based at the University of Rochester, "Unfortunately, only about 3% of all books published in the United States are works in translation... An even greater shame is that only a fraction of the titles that do make their way into English are covered by the mainstream media. So despite the quality of these books, most translations go virtually unnoticed and never find their audience."
The situation has been improving gradually, particularly in the last several years. Literary awards often serve to bring foreign literature to the attention of American publishers. Italy has its own awards, such as the Strega Prize, awarded in 2008 to Paolo Giordano for The Solitude of Prime Numbers. Amara Lakhous, author of Divorce Islamic Style, won Italy's Flaiano Prize for his first novel, Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in the Piazza Vittorio. The publisher of his English translations, Europa Editions, has introduced scores of translated international works to the American market, most notably works translated from Italian, creating an increasing demand among English speaking readers.
The United States now has an award for translated literature. Launched by Three Percent in 2007, the Best Translated Book Award is given yearly to both a work of fiction, and of poetry. Both the authors and the translators of these books are recognized. The winners for 2012, announced on May 3rd, were Wiesław Myśliwski's Stone Upon Stone, translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston, and Kiwao Nomura's Spectacle & Pigsty, translated from the Japanese by Kyoko Yoshida and Forrest Gander.
To discover more books translated into English, check out BookBrowse's themed category, "Foreign Language and Translation," which includes the following novels translated from Italian:
This article is from the May 30, 2012 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.
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