I’ve always been curious what it’d be like to read on of my favorite books in another language. The challenge seems quite apparent. How do you capture the style, the tone of the original author in another language. Anyone who is bilingual or has studied another language could tell you, there isn’t always a direct translation to english. Expressions or certain adjectives don’t necessarily convert, and thus I imagine of the most talented translators can decipher a text without losing the potency of the original author.
According to literature across frontiers, a translation advocacy network, only a slim 3% of books published in the US and the UK have been translated from another language. With fiction receiving as little as 1%. On the other hand 2 in 3 european translations are from english, about 40% of the novels published in France!
Meike Ziervogelm, started Peirene Press in 2008. She believes she has found a niche in the market by translating around 3 novellas a years in english. The distinct european prose is non-traditional in america, with often darker and non-formulaic plots. Ziervogelm fills this potential gap in the market with unique european literature.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Alchemist, and The Three Musketeers are just a few examples of successful european translations to english. Maybe Ziervogelm is right, maybe the US and UK demand more of these publications, and the field is just waiting for the right publishing/marketing to fill it!