Bringing the world to the U.S.

It is no secret in the book world that far more books are translated into other languages than into English. Having lived in Japan (a nation that seems to devour far more literature than the U.S.) in my early 20s and then returning to the U.S., I’ve seen this firsthand — a marked provincialism of America as a symptom of the country’s complacency of empire.

The NEA seems to be trying to help to change this with the first grants for translation, which were recently announced. The news can be found here.

The National Endowment for the Arts offers the NEA International Literature Awards to provide American readers with greater access to quality foreign literary work in translation. The NEA conducts this initiative together with partner governments, with the first awards focusing on the literature of Greece and Spain. The NEA announces today that the 2007 award recipients are three nonprofit literary presses that will translate and publish a work from these countries and promote the book to American readers. The three American presses that each will receive a $10,000 NEA award are Archipelago Books of Brooklyn, NY; Dalkey Archive Press of Champaign, IL; and Etruscan Press of Wilkes-Barre, PA.

As you could probably guess, $10,000 is a drop in the bucket, but at least it’s a start.


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