There's always been an audience for foreign fiction, a willing readership who want to discover the world through different voices. But the perception is that translated works are literary and difficult - fine if you like that sort of thing, a bit off-putting if not. Harvill, who specialise in precisely this kind of fiction, recognised that Murakami potentially had a wider appeal.
The Murakami effect has obviously benefited other Japanese writers such as Ryu Murakami (no relation), Hitomi Kanehara and Natsuo Kirino, but it's also helped people cast off negative preconceptions. Carlos Ruiz Zafon's Shadows of the Wind was a number-one bestseller, proving sales and translations are not mutually exclusive. This is especially true of crime writing, with more and more foreign novels appearing in translation. Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbo, Anne Elliot, Boris Akunin and the irresistible Fred Vargas deliver unusual and compelling novels and are valued as highly as their English-writing contemporaries.
Excellent original novels, combined with publishers who believe in them and good translators, mean it's now as commercially viable to publish and promote novels in translation as it's ever been. Hopefully the days of waiting 18 years for your debut collection to appear in English are well and truly over, and fiction as superlative as Ogawa's won't be lost to English language readers anymore.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Stuart Evers' blog in the Guardian
Stuart Evers has a some recent posts of interest to Euro Crime readers. He recently blogged about Inspector Frost book vs tv and hopes that Peter James' Roy Grace isn't too altered for the tv and yesterday, he blogged about fiction in translation concluding: