“There’s nothing wrong with making up stories to make life more bearable.”
-Gloria in A Time of Miracles by Anne-Laure Bondoux, translated from the French by Y. Maudet, published by Delacorte
“Slowly, one by one, more and more travelers got out of the bus. Some were clutching onto one another, others were leaning against the bus, their faces pale. Mouse chuckled. She knew exactly how they felt. Maybe she should explain to Dantzig that he ought to take it easy.”
–Departure Time by Truus Matti, translated from the Dutch by Nancy Forest-Flier, published by Namelos
“Pierre Anthon left school the day he realized that nothing was worth doing, because nothing meant anything anyway.”
-Agnes in Nothing by Janne Teller, translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken, published by Atheneum
Publishing translations is not a lucrative business. It is expensive and time-consuming to evaluate the international literary marketplace, secure rights, and commission translations. It is the extremely rare translation that becomes a bestseller. The Batchelder Award was created “to encourage international exchange of quality children’s books,” in the belief and hope that the exchange of literature and ideas between cultures can help make a better world. It is awarded to publishers to reward them for taking a risk on something worthwhile, to draw attention to high-quality translations and expand readership. I was convinced that was important before I started my Batchelder year, but I believe it even more sitting here now.
I know there are a lot of things to read and keep up on. I know there are a lot of books you can add to your collections that might circulate more reliably with less help. These books are important, though, so I ask you: read them, buy them, promote them. It would be a sad world, indeed, if publishers decided to stop bringing the world to us.
I’m loving humanity a little too much right now. Might be time to rent a car and drive the California freeways for a few hours.