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Archive for May, 2010:

Happy 75 Years to Penguin Books

posted May 28, 2010

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling book design books events marketing publishing


First there was the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile and then the Peeps Fun Bus, and now there’s the Penguin Anniversary-mobile. The automobile, which commemorates the 75th anniversary of Penguin Books, will be touring the United States and making stops for anniversary parties at bookstores. The Penguin Car, a flaming orange Mini Cooper emblazoned with the Penguin logo, will also be transporting authors to book signings and celebrations.

Penguin will donate a set of 75 of its most prominent titles to a library or literacy organization in each scheduled stop along the anniversary tour. In June the Penguin Car will visit Minnesota, New York, South Carolina, Kentucky, and California. Though Penguin’s official anniversary date is July 30, the anniversary tour will continue through the summer. At the end of the anniversary celebration, the Penguin Car will be auctioned off, and proceeds will be donated to a literacy group.

Another fun part of Penguin’s celebration is Penguin Ink, which pairs six tattoo artists with six Penguin titles. The tattoo artists designed new covers for the titles, which include Waiting for the Barbarians by J. M. Coetzee, From Russia with Love (yes, it’s a James Bond title) by Ian Fleming, and The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace.

Visit Penguin’s special anniversary website here to follow the Penguin Car and read about the history of Penguin Books.

With New Prize, a Bit of Limelight for Young Translators

posted May 19, 2010

Posted by Erin Brown in translation world literature

harville secker 

As Tim Parks, author of Translating Style (revised edition, 2007), remarked in the Guardian recently, the work of the translator is neither glamorous nor lucrative. Even the most talented translator usually remains anonymous unless s/he has the good fortune to work with a literary superstar, like Salman Rushdie or Umberto Eco.

Indeed, Parks argues, the unwritten rule seems to be that the translator should remain anonymous, as neither the author nor the reader of a foreign language work wants to be reminded that the translated text is only a mediated version of the original:

The translator should do his job and then disappear. The great, charismatic, creative writer wants to be all over the globe. And the last thing he wants to accept is that the majority of his readers are not really reading him.

His readers feel the same. They want intimate contact with true greatness. They don’t want to know that this prose was written on survival wages in a maisonette in Bremen, or a high-rise flat in the suburbs of Osaka.

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French Pop Song of the Week: “Mystery Train,” La Féline

posted May 18, 2010

Posted by Thomas Riggs in music translation uncategorized world literature


According to its MySpace page, La Féline is “a trio that likes pop, epic folk, beauty, strangeness, instrumental music, and B movies” (“un trio qui aime la pop, le folk épique, le beau, le bizarre, la musique instrumentale et les séries B”). But I prefer this description that lead singer Agnès Gayraud gave in an English-language interview.

We’re three people. A dark-haired girl, Agnès. who sings and plays guitar, gently leading the band, a grey-haired boy, Xavier, who plays keyboards, and a brown-haired boy, Stéphane, playing drums. We all live in Paris. We’re all looking for something—without knowing exactly what. We only agree on the fact we’re looking for it.

La Féline’s music is sometimes in French, sometimes in English. This song is in both, creating a Franco-American mélange in which French pop tradition wanders freely in the folksy, Wild West.

Below are the lyrics and a translation of the French.

HibOO d’Live : La Féline “Mystery Train” from on Vimeo.

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Spreading the Translated Word: JLPP

posted May 14, 2010

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in books marketing publishing technology translation trends uncategorized world literature

JLPPI just learned about this really interesting project, the Japanese Literature Publishing Project (JLPP), that promotes Japanese literature to a number of foreign countries. Sponsored by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, JLPP has been around since 2002 and has so far been behind the publication of 34 Japanese titles translated into English. JLPP selects about 10 books per year, and the titles are translated into several languages, including English, French, German, and Russian. It then promotes the translated works to publishers, and following publication, JLPP buys a good number of the translated titles and distributes them to libraries. What a good way to increase access to translated works!

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Movies vs. Books

posted May 7, 2010

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in books

I have a confession to make. I like books, and I like movies, but I do not like movies based on books. I guess I should clarify—if I have read a book on which a movie is based, I almost always prefer the book. There is no snobbery or elitism involved here (and if you knew the kinds of books I generally read, you would have no doubt I am telling the truth); rather, for me, books paint a fuller picture, something a movie cannot fully accomplish. Ironic, I know, since books have words and movies have images, but books have details and nuances and, I don’t know, magic that fill the brain.

Here is an impressive and fascinating database of movies based on books. How many have you seen? Seeing a movie after I have read the book is a disappointment because I have already “seen” it in my head, and the movie can never match up, but if I see the movie first, it kind of ruins the book for me. Just glancing at the database, there are a number of movies I have seen and really enjoyed, but I never read the books on which they were based. They include After Dark, My Sweet, the 1990 film based on the Jim Thompson noir novel, and Dead Zone, the 1983 film starring Christopher Walken (!) that was based on Stephen King’s novel of the same title.

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