The art of literary translation

Renowned literary translator Anthea Bell shares her secrets for making a successful of a career as a translator.

Manukan beach, Borneo

Let’s start at the beginning. Translation is not a single genre, but comprises as many as there are genres of translated books. In fact there’s a notorious disproportion between the number of foreign-language books published in English and the number of English books translated into other languages.

We tend to be monoglots in the English-speaking world, and with some exceptions publishers have to rely on readers’ reports when they are deciding whether to accept a foreign book. Many translators also read foreign books for publishers, and it is of course crucial for us to be completely honest in giving our opinion on a book. Publishers have to know when they can trust their readers. Continue reading