On the 3%…


…of translated books in the U.S., that is. I’ve just finished SIGNS PRECEDING THE END OF THE WORLD by Yuri Herrera (translated by Lisa Dillman), a beautifully written and moving story of a young Mexican girl who crosses the border into the United States in order to deliver a message to her older brother, who crossed long before her and had stopped sending letters or messages of any kind back home to her and her mother. The story is ethereal, poetic, and yet is grounded in familiar descriptions, moments, and feelings.

I found this lovely book when I went to a deceivingly large bookshop (the pathway through many bookshelves winds forever to reveal a sizable shop, despite its small storefront) in Hyde Park in May called 57th Street Books, where one of the authors I work with at St. Martin’s spoke about her book on the South Side. The owner handed me this book. And he also passionately shared his goal of stocking the best translated literature out there.

Though I could label myself as an editor or a writer, I call myself first and foremost a lover of literature. I grew up reading translated works of literature, from Kafka or Flaubert or Marquez. And as an editor, I have the ability to help these kinds of riveting, eye-opening stories make their way into the marketplace—and thrive. Of course, getting to publish new American authors is one of the great pleasures in the work that I do. But I want my list to be filled with works from all over the world in an effort to remind American readers that there are many, many perspectives. And without reading them, we run the risk of folding into our own little world.

So go out and buy a translation! Another one that I read recently (and affected me very deeply, in more ways than one) is WILLFUL DISREGARD by Swedish author Lena Andersson.



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