Growing Support for Translated Literature: Background information when reading Winter in Sokcho

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Winter in Sokcho

by Elisa Dusapin

Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Dusapin X
Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Dusapin
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Apr 2021, 160 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Callum McLaughlin
Buy This Book

About this Book

Growing Support for Translated Literature

This article relates to Winter in Sokcho

Print Review

Booker Prize logo atop stack of books recognized for international prize in 2021In 2007, the University of Rochester launched Three Percent, an online database that aimed to strengthen support for translated literature within the US market, supplementing the work of their translation press, Open Letter — publisher of Elisa Dusapin's Winter in Sokcho. The project was a response to reports at the time that a mere three percent of books published in the US were works in translation. But how have things changed since then?

It does seem that respect for the value of translated literature is growing within the industry itself, slowly but surely. Though an early form of the International Booker Prize was established in 2005, for example, it was initially awarded just once every two years to an author for their entire body of work. In 2016, the prize was significantly revamped. Mirroring the primary Booker Prize (a prestigious award given annually to "the best original novel written in the English language and published in the United Kingdom"), the international prize is now awarded every year to a single work published in translation in the UK, with the £50,000 prize money (around $70,000) shared equally between the author and the translator. Other major prizes soon followed suit — in the U.S., the National Book Foundation Board voted unanimously in 2018 to launch the National Book Award for Translated Literature. The winner receives a $10,000 prize, which is also split evenly between the author and translator.

Influential organizations taking such steps is important, as the publicity they generate can help translated books reach a far greater audience than they would otherwise. It also makes a clear statement that such titles should be held in the same regard as English language releases. The National Book Foundation Board's executive director, Lisa Lucas, explained the thought process behind their decision: "We are a nation of immigrants, and we should never stop seeking connection and insight from the myriad cultures that consistently influence and inspire us." It seems a similar sentiment among the general public may have helped to bolster support for translated literature in the UK, with sales going up by 5.5% following Brexit (with a marked show of support for European works, in particular).

You don't have to look far these days to find other examples of readers, writers and translators showing their shared desire for translated literature to break into the mainstream. Initiatives like National Translation Month, launched in 2013, and Women in Translation Month, launched in 2014, both help communities to come together, share resources and discuss the books they love. This is all in an effort to encourage publishers to back increased numbers of works in translation by proving the market has an existing readership hungry for more books.

When it comes to support shown by publishers, however, it is interesting to note the discrepancy between big and small presses. As of 2019, the so-called Big Five — Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster — accounted for just 14 percent of works released in translation, despite their vast market reach and spending power. (In 2019, HarperCollins launched the imprint HarperVia, which is focused on acquiring and publishing international titles.) The vast majority of translated literature that hits the shelves is released by small presses. Several of these (Charco Press, Tilted Axis, Istros Books, Nordisk Books and Peirene Press) banded together during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown to form an online book club for translated literature, taking turns leading discussions of some of their respective titles.

So, while it is fair to say that progress has been made since the infamous three percent report was published, it is also important to acknowledge that further measures are required if the playing field is to ever feel truly even. After all, among the few titles that are currently translated into English, European works and male writers still dominate the market, making it even harder for those who don't fall into these categories to get their books into readers' hands. The best thing we can do as individuals is continue reading translated literature where we can, championing the work of initiatives like those mentioned above.

Booker Prize logo, courtesy of The Booker Prizes

Filed under Books and Authors

This article relates to Winter in Sokcho. It first ran in the May 5, 2021 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start discovering exceptional books!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: A Mystery of Mysteries
    A Mystery of Mysteries
    by Mark Dawidziak
    Edgar Allan Poe biographers have an advantage over other writers because they don't have to come up ...
  • Book Jacket: Moonrise Over New Jessup
    Moonrise Over New Jessup
    by Jamila Minnicks
    Jamila Minnicks' debut novel Moonrise Over New Jessup received the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially...
  • Book Jacket
    The Magician's Daughter
    by H.G. Parry
    "Magic isn't there to be hoarded like dragon's treasure. Magic is kind. It comes into ...
  • Book Jacket: The Great Displacement
    The Great Displacement
    by Jake Bittle
    On August 4, 2021, California's largest single wildfire to date torched through the small mountain ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Nurse's Secret
by Amanda Skenandore
A fascinating historical novel based on the little-known story of America's first nursing school.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The God of Endings
    by Jacqueline Holland

    A suspenseful debut that weaves a story of love, history and myth through the eyes of one immortal woman.

  • Book Jacket

    Once We Were Home
    by Jennifer Rosner

    From the author of The Yellow Bird Sings, a novel based on the true stories of children stolen in the wake of World War II.

Who Said...

Polite conversation is rarely either.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!


Solve this clue:

R Peter T P P

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.