Friday, January 7, 2011

Lost in transation

Met with book publishers Penguin today. They've had a China office for some time, publishing Western titles (eg. Penguin Classics) in translation and commissioning books about China in English. As we sat in their office, I scanned the shelves and just about everything on them I wanted to steal. Oh for a year off just to read...

Anyway, we're working with Penguin - and a lot of other people - on a big project which is trying to bring China and UK's literary fields closer together. There's a massive imbalance between British titles translated and published in China, and vice versa - probably as extreme as 99:1. There are hardly any Chinese novelists translated into English. One of the problems is that there aren't enough top-notch translators, and those that exist are always busy. So we've got a training project to develop more, involving writers, editors & publishers from both sides. This will culminate in China being 'Market Focus' at the London Book Fair in 2012, for which we'll be bringing over around 50 Chinese writers for networking, seminars and stuff. This is topsy-turvy for us: normally we're doing stuff the other way round, promoting Brit culture in China, but actually cultural relations is more effective if it's mutual (he said, somewhat po-faced...).