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The Queen of Translators

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in books publishing translation trends world literature on March 26, 2010

Why Translation Matters

In the world of literary translators, Edith Grossman is a rock star. She is known for her mastery of translation, which includes the seemingly insurmountable ability to merge translated language with cultural nuance and style. Grossman is responsible for the English translations of a number of titles by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, including Love in the Time of Cholera, as well as the 2003 translation of Miguel de Cervantes’ classic Don Quixote.

Though many acknowledge that translation is an art form, there are plenty of others who hold translation in lesser regard, not giving it the credit it is due. It’s possible they consider translation a technical task, something a translator can plow through, dictionary in hand. Grossman takes offense to this, and she details the importance of translation in her forthcoming book, Why Translation Matters (release date March 30, 2010).

Works in translation are not wildly popular in the United States. According to research firm R. R. Bowker’s 2005 report, translated works make up only about 3 percent of book releases in the United States each year. Works translated from English, on the other hand, are plentiful (double-digit percentages) in other parts of the world. This is partly due to the dominance of the English language in print.

But all is not lost, as works translated to English do have an audience in the United States. Take, for example, the popularity of such books as Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (translated from French) and of the crime genreĀ “Nordic Noir,” including The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell (Swedish) and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (Swedish).

To read more about Grossman and translation, see this article.

      

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