Re: RARA-AVIS: Foreign HB novels (was:First Joe Gore novel)

From: Mario Taboada (
Date: 29 Jul 2002

Etienne and Terrill: Publishers in the US have the idea
(based on their experience) that translations don't sell. There are a few exceptions, of course. Some foreign children's books and sex books do sell, as do certain classics, but normally people in the US have little idea of what's going on elsewhere. I read an article in the newspaper complaining that they had given the Nobel prize to Jose Saramago, "a guy nobody's ever heard of". I don't think a European reader would say the same if Roth or Updike were to receive the prize. A writer, even a newspaper reporter, certainly wouldn't say it.

To judge by the remainder bins, even top writers who have won Novel prizes don't sell in the US. Even Gþ´¥² Grass doesn't sell (and he was translated by the great Ralph Manheim, a guarantee of quality and creativity in translation). I was thinking of this as I browsed Grass's
_The Flounder_, whose Manheim translation is a work of art in itself. Mark, since you recommended Selby to me, I will recommend this book to you, as retribution, as my thanks.



"The skill of man is unequal to the formation of a new man from old materials, but the battered tenement may, with care, be long sustained by props" -- From Becklard's Physiology.

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