“Are American readers woefully out of touch with international literature? Is our bookish insularity limiting our imaginative lives and suffocating our understanding of the world, while inflating our own sense of self-importance?
Well, yes. But there’s more to the story than that.”
“For a nation that takes pride in its immigrant history and its multicultural sensibility, the hostility to translated literature is downright bizarre—and not at all serving American readers.”
“A meager three percent of all books published in America each year are translated from another language. The majority of that is computer manuals, instructions, and other technical material. An even smaller percentage accounts for reprints or new translations of classics—this is where War & Peace and Madame Bovary come in.”
“That means that contemporary global literature—fiction and poetry written by living authors—is a vanishingly tiny portion of that three percent. It’s likely that American readers will not discover today’s Borges, Calvino, Neruda, or Kafka until long after they are dead, if they even discover them at all.”