Commentary, Literature

Beyond Le Clézio, a world of literature

jacket imageLast week, before the Swedish Academy awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in literature to Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, Academy secretary Horace Engdahl caused a bit of a kerfuffle by suggesting that “The US is too isolated, too insular. They don’t translate enough and don’t really participate in the big dialogue of literature. That ignorance is restraining.”
Notwithstanding GalleyCat’s recent musing on how “Engdahl makes the leap from American publishers not cranking out more world literature in translation to American novelists not being as good as their European counterparts,” it’s true that books in translation make up only about three percent of U.S. publishers’ output.
UCP, happily, has made a healthy contribution to the three percent. We are perhaps best known in this arena for making French philosophy available to American readers, but our long list of books in translation also includes works that range from Le Clézio’s The Mexican Dream and the epic The Journey to the West to a wide selection of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s writings and Rumi’s mystical poems. Providing an insider’s view of this world of literature, Mary Ann Caws‘s Surprised in Translation celebrates the occasional and fruitful peculiarity that results from some of the most flavorful translations of well-known authors.
For more translations of well-known—and unknown—authors, explore Words Without Borders or Three Percent. And, of course, our international selections of fiction, poetry, and folklore.