Into-englishEric M.B. Becker at The Quarterly Conversation:

It’s become something of an article of faith that English-language readers are more eager than ever to devour literature in translation, and as the famous (but now outdated) three percent figure suggests, sometimes the only way to go is up. Much ink has been spilled in attempts to determine what is at the root of this world literature renaissance, and wishful thinking might suggest it’s that, as readers, Americans have simply become a whole lot more sophisticated and cosmopolitan in outlook. It’s a comforting thought, certainly, but not one borne out by sales figures, and anyone who’s spent more than two minutes in publishing also knows that while previous periods of soaring interest in literatures written beyond our shores may have been spurred on by attempts to understand cultures beyond our own (even this much is in doubt), this latest wave is, at least in part, as much a phenomenon of late-stage capitalism as of high-mindedness. Publishing international writers is now a no-brainer even in houses that haven’t traditionally published much in translation at all. It’s ever more rare to come across a recent college graduate who hasn’t spent a semester abroad, and yet there’s nothing to suggest that the increasing ease with which we move across borders (assuming we’re not one of myriad ostracized groups) has led us to engage more meaningfully with cultures beyond our own. But we like to feel that we are doing so, perhaps in the same way we watch the cinematic adaptation out of the sense that it will give us an idea of what the book is about. On the other hand, the new generation of independent publishing houses dedicated to literature in translation does attest to higher ideals in some corners.

more here.