Fiction in Translation and Dual Language Editions – & Why They Matter

Talking in the LA Times John Darnielle (brilliant musician and author of Wolf in White Van, look him up if you haven’t heard of him already) said, “Literature in translation is a huge passion of mine, but usually when you read a translated book it’s something from the lit world, something that professors and bookish people read.” Darnielle went on to chronicle his delight at finding translated genre fiction for the first time. Read that article HERE.     
Us happening across this article couldn’t have been more timely, as we have just found out the exciting news that Turnaround will be distributing Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H.Batacan upon its August release.

9781616955274 – Crime Fiction – Coming August 2014
Paperback, TBC pages, TBC cms, Soho Press 

The title was the winner of the Philippine National Book Award, the Carlos Palanaca Memorial Award and the Madrigal-Gonzales Best First Book Award. A noir thriller, it has been hailed as the first ever Filipino crime novel. It tells the sometimes heart-breaking, always exciting story of two Catholic priests on the hunt for a serial killer in the notorious dump of a city, Manila.

The Philippine Daily Enquirer called it, “A gripping read [and] a well-orchestrated, compact race against time… A ‘smaller’ and smarter than usual thriller.” Hats off to whoever it was in the Philippines that came up with that pun.

Meanwhile, the title’s citation for the Madrigal-Gonzales Best First Book Award called it “moody, original and utterly irresistible” alongside noting that it marks, “a unique and necessary step in the evolution of Philippine fiction.”

Reading fiction in translation matters. It equips you with a frame of references for the world you could never find in books written in your own language. The best translators can be literary superstars in their own right (just look at the way J.M.Coetzee has been being praised), introducing new idioms and new literary styles to the English canon. Of course, not everyone likes to read the same things, so publishing, publicising and distributing translated genre fiction in the current climate, thus ensuring that everyone can benefit from all that reading in translation has to offer, is an exciting and worthy task.

Not to blow our own trumpet here, but we do think we may be onto something here, so get in on the phenomenon quick so in a year’s time you can claim to have been reading translated genre fiction before it was even, like, a thing, dahling.

In a similar vein to fiction in translation, Turnaround are also thrilled to be carrying dual-language editions of Milet’s Elmer series.

11th April 2014 / Board Books / 14pp / Age 0-4 years / £4.99

Where fiction in translation can significantly add to the English literary canon, dual language editions provide an ‘in’ to what is already there.

A common complaint is that, as immigrant communities can find themselves living in areas comprised entirely of other immigrants, they miss out on the chance for their children to pick up an English set of cultural references until they start school. Dual language children’s books go some way to correcting this. If everyone can recognise and delight in the same characters, that’s an extra thing for people from disparate communities to have in common.

Aside from any moral worthiness to the series, how can anyone resist an Elmer? Any Elmer? Just look at this guy.

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