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Move over K-Pop, the next Korean culture wave could be K-Lit – if enough great books can be translated well

Korean novelist Han Kang attracted global attention when her novel The Vegetarian won the Man Booker International Prize for fiction last year.

“The novel was published years ago in Korean, but it did not gain international attention before it was translated into English. It is an example of the significance of translation in literature,” says Sohn Hae-il, newly elected president of PEN International Korean Centre.

“Korean literature will become popular worldwide just like K-pop someday. As Korean culture gains popularity across the globe, more and more people are interested in learning the Korean language to understand the lyrics of K-pop and the words of Korean television dramas,” Sohn says. Read more

Source: South China Morning Post


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Found in Translation

By Gargi Gupta

There’s something fairytale-ish about Deborah Smith’s career thus far as a translator. She won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize along with South Korean novelist Han King for the latter’s The Vegetarian, her first book as a translator. It was also the first time that the £50,000 prize, the world’s highest for literary works in translation, was being awarded to the translator along with the author.

Smith, who was at the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival last month, had begun the translation of King’s novel three years after she began learning Korean in 2010, the first bits done with the help of a dictionary app on her phone! Prior to this, Smith, who grew up in north England, had never even “met a Korean person, nor eaten Korean food”.

“It’s crazy,” agrees Smith, “to think that the biggest prize that you could get as a translator would come for the first book you’ve done.” In all modesty, Smith says the judges recognised the original work for its quality. “A wonderful book can be ruined by a bad translation. So I think they were trying to give equal weight to both.” Read more

Source: DNA India


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Speaking in tongues: Literary translation as a work of art

Dividend by language, united by translations, literature from various Indian states, as well as from regions across the world, is now within easy reach of the Indian reader. As former editorial head of Pan Macmillan, translator and founder of Ponytale Books, Pranav Kumar Singh observes: “A country’s literature is part of its soft power. Today, most Indian languages have become just a medium of communication in urban Indian households, and English has become the language of reading. Therefore, it is important to translate the best of Indian literature not only for the benefit of native non-readers, but also for the growing readership in English, both in India and abroad. With the increasing prominence of India globally, a time will come when translations will play an important role in creating an understanding of the Indian experience. On the other hand, despite everything, there will be a resurgence of Indian languages, and a consequent need for both academic and general interest reading material. Therefore, there is need to look at translations both ways.”

“One bit that needs more exploring,” adds writer, columnist, translator and head of Amnesty International India, Aakar Patel, “is the publishing of Indian languages in the Roman script. Turkey made the transition easily. What is the benefit of this? In the modern world, though mobile phones and tablets can use most scripts, it is still simpler to use the Roman. Advertising in India uses Roman-Hindi. The turn of literature will come soon.’’ Patel, like Pranav Kumar Singh, is among the few editors in the country who have the ability to straddle more than two languages with equal ease. “I am a Gujarati,” says Patel. “My favourite poet is Narsinh Mehta, and though I can recite ‘Ozymandias’ or some of Eliot’s stuff, I am moved most by [Narsinh] Mehta’s Nag Daman on the boy Krishna. I began learning Arabic many years ago and did not get far, but because the script became familiar, I began to read Urdu. There is essentially no difference between Urdu and Hindi because the grammar is the same and north Indians who familiarise themselves with the Perso-Arabic script will be surprised to know that there is hardly any difference between Urdu and Hindi.” Read more

Source: Sunday Guardian Live

 


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The rise and fall of the Bayt-al-Hikmah

By Mini Krishnan

Baghdad was once home to the world’s largest translation centre.

Within 25 years of the death of their Prophet, the Arabs conquered the whole of Persia, Syria, Armenia, and a bit of Central Asia. In the east, they reached the Indus river and Sindh. In the west, they swept across Egypt and northern Africa, crossed the seas and landed at Gibraltar. In time, Spain too fell.

They were soon in possession of a different kind of power. In 751 AD, they captured Chinese paper-makers. This knowledge changed the nature of how writing was shared and stored. When the strongest people in the world saw the importance of establishing libraries, learning sprang up everywhere in their footsteps. Muslims were the first people to show an interest in translating manuscripts and scrolls from cultures other than theirs. Popularly known as the knowledge empire of the caliphs, there followed a history of 500 years of Islamic library building. By the ninth century, scholars in Cordoba and Spain were corresponding with their counterparts in Cairo, Bokhara, Samarkand and Baghdad. Baghdad! Persian for “gift from God”! Read more

Source: The Hindu


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The Ethics of Translation

By Chandan Gowda

A linguist narrated an anecdote that I haven’t been able to forget. A translator in medieval China complained of budget cuts for the work of translation: “In earlier days, a hundred translators worked together, in one large room, to translate a text. This number is now reduced to forty.” Besides the charms of collective authorship of translated texts, in contrast with the modern figure of the solo translator, the anecdote had held up the value of translation in China.

Translations open up pathways of imagination between cultural communities. While their value appears obvious, a few cautionary observations, especially with reference to contemporary English translations from Indian language, might be worth recalling.

Since great stories about village India or tribal India, to name just two spheres of experience, are likely to be written in Indian languages, only translations, in English or Indian languages, can come to the rescue of curious minds. More generally, an interest in the best works of Indian literature and political thought can be presumed to exist, either now or at another point in time. So far, so good. Read more

Source: Bangalore Mirror


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A look at the best new Arabic titles in English translation

By M Lynx Qualey

A bestselling 13th-century cookbook; stories by popular Al Bernameg TV host Bassem Youssef; a controversial book about Saudi women and award-winning Iraqi novels are among the noteworthy English works coming from Arab authors this spring.

The new year promises several strong reads from and about Syria. This month, Haus Publishing kicks off their Modern Arabic Classics series with Ascension to Death by celebrated Syrian author Mamdouh Azzam. In the novel, translated by Max Weiss, a love story runs up against an unforgiving family and regime. Ascension to Death was one of three books chosen by Samar Yazbek for the 2012 Finnegan’s List project, a list of works in urgent need of translation.

In February, Perseus Books will bring out Alia Malek’s The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria. The Syrian-American author and civil rights lawyer was last year’s winner of the US$50,000 (Dh183,600) Hiett Prize for her writing about Syria.

This new book promises to interleave history and the author’s emotional return to her Damascus family home.

Also from Syria, New Directions is to bring out a new short-story collection by Osama Alomar, The Teeth of the Comb & Other Stories, translated by C J Collins. This is the second collection in English for Alomar, who now lives in Chicago. These sharp, allegorical stories are in the tradition of the great Zakaria Tamer. Read more

Source: The National


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China: 2016 works worth reading

By Mei Jia

The Paper Republic website, which promotes contemporary Chinese writing to the English-language world, has just put out its latest list. Now in its fifth year, the list offers readers a wide range of choices. “This year’s list is longer than ever, and several books have won international prizes,” says Nicky Harman, a UK-based prize-winning literary translator, who prepared the list. At a glance, there are names of writers of fiction, sci-fi writers, online works, poetry and children’s literature, all translated and published in English in 2016. Read more

Source: China Daily


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Lost in translation: why the world is missing out on Indonesia’s best writers

By Dene Mullen

JK Rowling, Paul Kalanithi, John Grisham, David Baldacci, Bill O’Reilly. These people have a few things in common: they are the authors of Amazon’s five best-selling books of 2016; they all made millions of dollars for their publishers; and they are all from English-speaking countries. As English becomes ever more predominant as the world’s lingua franca, works written in English increase their stranglehold on the global literary scene.

It is acutely difficult for a ‘foreign’ author to break into the English-language market, where only 3% of the published works are translations from other languages. Even the world’s fourth most populous nation is struggling to have its voices heard: despite Indonesia being Southeast Asia’s most prolific literary nation, producing tens of thousands of books per year, its most renowned authors remain relatively unknown to the wider world.

Yet before Indonesians can even contemplate access to the vast English-speaking market their books need to be translated – and that is often where the problems begin.

“I think there’s a critical mass of very good writers [in Indonesia] who deserve much greater exposure, but they are only going to get that exposure if their work is translated well,” says Gill Westaway, a freelance translator and editor who lives on Lombok island, Indonesia. Read more

Source: Southeast Asia Globe


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The Indie Authors Guide to Amazon Book Reviews

By Brooke Warner

Many indie authors are obsessed with Amazon reviews, and rightly so. Love it or hate it, Amazon is a massive book buying hub and a place where self-published books can get reviewed alongside traditional titles. Reviews on the site can give your book legitimacy, make you look popular (or not), and tip the scales for buyers browsing your page. If you’re on the fence about prioritizing Amazon reviews, my advice is to do so.

That said, there is some lingering confusion about how reviews on Amazon are handled. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Amazon started cracking down on nepotistic reviews in 2012, which may seem unfair to some authors. Additionally, it can be hard to understand what triggers the removal of a perceived nepotistic review. My advice is to tell would-be reviewers to be transparent. If they know you or have a relationship with you, they can say so in the review. This transparency seems to work, and Amazon largely lets those reviews stand. Read more

Source: Publishers Weekly


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Nurturing translators of Japanese literature / Workshop created for networking, honing skills

By Shinya Machida

Six young translators of Japanese literature from inside and outside the country were invited to participate in a workshop on translation techniques and practical knowledge related to the publishing process.

First attempt

The project is the Cultural Affairs Agency’s first attempt to nurture next-generation translators capable of introducing modern Japanese literature overseas.

The workshop was held from Nov. 9 to 13 at the Shonan Village Center in Hayama, Kanagawa Prefecture.

At the event, Tynan Kogane, an editor at New Directions Publishing, told participants in English that his company was looking for edgy translations with a unique voice and style. Based in New York, the company is enthusiastic about publishing translated works of Japanese literature. While Kogane explained his firm’s publication policy, participants asked questions on topics such as how to establish a relationship with publishing agents and whether it is possible to publish long pieces.

Participants were native speakers of either English or Japanese, and all of them were aiming to translate Japanese literature into English. They were all prize winners in the Cultural Affairs Agency’s Japanese literature translation competition, which has been conducted twice. The agency paid about ¥2 million for travel, accommodation and other expenses of participants and lecturers. Read more

Source: The Japan News