The Third Literary Translation Centre at the London Book Fair

Sunday April 15th, 2012

16th – 18th April

Earl’s Court, London

The Literary Translation Centre is back for a third year at the London Book Fair. This immensely popular hub for translators, publishers and the reading public is a place to hear new perspectives on the transformative art of literary translation and the publishing of books from around the world. Organised by a consortium of organisations, of which LAF is a founding partner, the centre features a programme of stimulating discussions and a dedicated space to network and meet.

If you are already attending the Book Fair, all the events are free.

Literature Across Froniters will be at stand Z20, next to the LTC. Here is a selection of the events on offer:

Publishers’ Resources for National Literatures
16th Apr 2012, 10am – 11am, LTC

Every year more national cultural organisations launch regular publications – physical and virtual – to showcase their national literatures. The aim is always the same: to draw the attention of publishers in the Anglophone world to what is happening in their countries and languages, in the hope of encouraging more of their work to be translated and published; but each organisation’s publication is slightly different. In this session we’ll be presenting a number of models from around Europe, and a panel of experts will consider what works and what doesn’t, and give us some insight into what publishers actually need. Chaired by Rosie Goldsmith with Briony Everroad (Harvill Secker) and Philip Gwyn-Jones (Granta/Portobello Books).

Translating Minority Languages, Bridge Language Translation
17th April 2012, 11.30am – 12.30pm, LTC

Published literary translations continue to be dominated by only a few large source languages – English, French, Spanish, German, and a handful of others. They are the languages most commonly acquired as a second language, and as such they’re also the languages commissioning publishers are more likely to be able to access directly themselves. What, then, are the challenges faced when working from less-widely spoken languages, which may in fact be used by a large number of speakers as a first language but are rarely acquired as a second, especially not in international publishing centres? Do we need more channels of access, more information, more training for translators? Work originally written in less-widely used languages, whether European or not, will often find its way into translation via a bridge language or through a collaborative effort – is this a welcome practical solution (albeit one that should be practiced with caution and caveats), or – as some translators would argue – is this practice entirely unacceptable? Chaired by Daniel Hahn (BCLT and the Translators’ Association, UK) with Sampurna Chattarji (Poet, India), Gabriel Rosenstock (Poet, translator, Ireland), Christopher Meredith (translator and professor of creative writing, Wales) and Clive Boutle (Francis Boutle Publishers, UK). 

World Literature: How Much does it Matter to Us?

17th Apr 2012, 4pm – 5pm, LTC

Literary translation is part and parcel of cultural life in Europe, where entire industries operate around the production of translated books and theatre plays, and of subtitled or dubbed versions of films and TV. The United Kingdom and Ireland however, along with other English-speaking countries around the world, are known for their resistance to importing cultural products, particularly those that require translation, and for dominating the international book market. The hegemony of English as a source language is a much-discussed topic, as translations from English amount to 50% – 80% of translated books in some European countries while translations into English are estimated to represent a mere 3% of the publishing output of the United Kingdom. Or do they? And if so, what is the context in which world literature matters so little? LAF’s report on the position of translated literature in the United Kingdom, supported by Arts Council England and the European Union, will follow the various strands that together weave the story of translation and literary exchange, exploring the process that takes literature from a foreign edition through translation and publication to the reader via live literature events and international author visits. In this session, the co-authors Alice Guthrie and Alexandra Buchler from Literature Across Frontiers will give a sneak preview of the report to be launched in September 2012.

Bringing Chinese poetry to the UK
18th Apr 2012, 1:30pm – 2:30pm, LTC

Chinese poetry has a long and honourable history in English translation – it is nearly 100 years since Arthur Waley’s 170 Chinese Poems was first published. Both the Chinese classics and contemporary poetry, which has flourished in the last three decades, provide rich opportunities for Western publishers. In the last twelve months alone, several new volumes – both anthologies and single-poet volumes have been published in the UK and the USA. Nevertheless there are huge challenges: Few poetry publishers will have in-depth knowledge of the contemporary Chinese poetry scene. Which poets will be represented? In the West, the label ‘dissident’ sells books, but what does it mean in the Chinese poetry context? Who will do the translations? The panel will look at collaborative translating (translators and poets) as a practical and creative solution.  Promoting the unfamiliar and finding new audiences. How much contextualization is needed when introducing new poetry (whether classical or contemporary) to readers? How important are promotional events or readings, if at all? Panelists Nicky HarmanBill Herbert, Brian Holton and Yang Lian, will discuss all this and more with chair David Constantine.

European Union Prize for Literature Three Years On

18th Apr 2012, 3pm – 4pm, LTC

The European Union Prize for Literature was launched in 2008 with the aim of “putting the spotlight on the creativity and diverse wealth of Europe’s contemporary literature in the field of fiction, to promote the circulation of literature within Europe and encourage greater interest in non-national literary works”. The prize, awarded each year to emerging authors selected by national juries from eleven or twelve European countries, is coordinated by the European Booksellers Federation (EBF), the European Writers’ Council (EWC) and the Federation of European Publishers (FEP). What has the prize achieved as it completes its first round of the EU and prepares to embark on a new three-year cycle? What has been its impact on the international literary scene and how does it compare with the traditional literary prizes awarded to a single winner? Has it taken national literatures outside their borders and made new voices of European literature heard not only in the original language but also in translation? These and other questions are debated by three of the 2011 EUPL winners Adam Foulds (UK), Andrej Nikolaidis (Montenegro) and Inga Zolude (Latvia) in a session chaired by Ann Branch of the European Commission.

There are also sessions on

– the new PEN Translates! Fund
– Editing Japan and China
Gatekeepers of Translation
First Steps: Getting Started in Literary Translation (Q&A)
Translating the News: The Arab Spring Online and in Print
– Translating children’s literature

And lots more! Browse the full programme on the LBF website.