Literary Translation by the Numbers

By Bruce Humes, published

As the number of Chinese novels translated into English annually rises into the teens, here's a figure to contemplate:

" . . . 781 Japanese novels were translated and published in South Korea in 2012," according to Takayuki Iwasaki in Japan's Literati Impervious to Politics.


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And yet "Japanese literature is struggling in Europe and the U.S. Writers such as Fuminori Nakamura and Yoko Ogawa have garnered attention, but Haruki Murakami is about the only widely recognized author. It is difficult to get Japanese literature translated and sold in the U.S. and European markets, where commercial success is a prerequisite."

I used to think the reason why so few Chinese novels were translated into English was mostly a supply-side problem. Now I'm starting to wonder if Anglophone readers (for whatever) reason are less interested in literature in translation.

Nick Stember, March 14, 2014, 6:26a.m.


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