Outlook for Publishing Spanish Language Books In English Is Good

Publisher’s Weekly has an interesting summary from the BEA on the outlook for Spanish language publishing in the US and translation from Spanish to English. Of more interest to English speakers is their take on Translation from Spanish to English. They all seem to think the market is growing and acceptance of translated works will be greater. Perhaps translation some day will go from 3% to 4%? I’ll believe it when I see it, but it is good to see that the publishers feel that there is something happening, although publishers have been known to be wrong before.

“Translations from Spanish into English: Overview, potentials and hurdles,” looked at the recent surge of successful translations of Spanish-language books. Esther Allen, translator and director Center of Literary Translation at Columbia University, moderated the panel, and began by saying she has “never felt so excited, so sanguine about the possibilities of bringing work from Spanish into English…both from Latin America and Spain.”

“It’s now ‘groovy’ again to read translations,” said New Directions’ Barbara Epler. “It’s the new generation that doesn’t care about anything,” such as whether it’s a translation or not, she explained. “They’re just really excited about somebody fabulous.” Epler said there’s now a difference in the way Spanish-language literature is being perceived in the U.S., and it’s reflected in the number of translations from Spanish published today. “It’s more than I’ve ever seen.”

Granta en español’s Valerie Miles noted that there is “an awakening of talent” within Spanish-language literature itself. Miles said an upcoming issue of Granta, The Best of Young Spanish-language Novelists, would highlight translations of works by young novelists under 35. Miles later noted it was important to steer clear of “blanket” labels, such as Latin American literature, because such tags don’t allow for the notion that each writer hails from a different culture and tradition.

Jesús Badenes from Editorial Planeta said one way Spanish authors measure their own success now, is by whether or not they’ve been published in the U.S. and, consequently, Spanish editors and agents are putting more of a focus on making that happen. He also noted that the U.S. is now more concerned about “world matters,” and thus open to reading—and publishing—more works in translation.
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