Translated work is now being sold as good literature and its appreciation among readers is on the rise, said Jenny Brown, founder director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
“In UK the percentage of translated literature was lamentable compared to the total amount of published work. It used to languish at 3%. In the past 15 years, it has risen to 7%. In Germany currently 20% of their published work are translations,” Brown said during the 4th edition of Kolkata Literature Festival organised at the International Book Fair premises.
“A journalist once told me that she used to regard translation the way a child would regard vegetables. Meaning: they are good for your health but not quiet palatable,” she said, adding that idea changed over the years.
Brown, who is also the Chair of the ‘Bloody Scotland’ crime writing festival, said good infrastructure and reward for good translation works have helped the genre flourish.
“The biggest prize money for translated work is 50,000 pounds but interestingly, the money is now equally divided between the original author and the translator,” she said.
Giving the example of several foreign authors who have gained immense popularity, she said the form of acquired writing has spearheaded the translated literature.
“People are not looking at these works merely as translations, they consider them as really fabulous acquired writing. More recently, an author like Italian novelist Elena Ferrante gained enormous popularity,” Brown said.
“Also when the last book of Japanese writer Murakami came out in UK, the bookshops opened at midnight all over the country so that people could get their hands on it,” she added.
Brown said she is hopeful that the percentage of translated work would increase in the coming days as readers around the world are now open to reading translated works as much as original literature.
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