By Olivia Snaije
The French Institute launched its new platform for French books in translation at the Paris Book Fair earlier this month.
The site, IF VERSO, is an institutional database and social network for book professionals who are Francophones and/or Francophiles. Currently in French and English, the French Institute hopes to make the site available in other languages in the near future. Although IF VERSO is ultimately a government-run site, with the mission to promote French books, it is also potentially a very useful tool for anyone working with French books.
Stéphan-Eloise Gras, who set up the site and is head of digital operations at the French Institute, described IF VERSO as a cross between Facebook and Goodreads, without the commercial aspect of the latter. Professionals can find out which books are still available to be translated, where to find translators, communicate amongst each other, locate rights directors and see where rights for a book have been sold.
The English language site still has a few translation problems to be ironed out and some of the links lead to information that is only available in French, but the feature articles, such as an interview with Japanese author Kenzaburo Oe on translation, or a history of Franco-Russian translation, or better yet, an article about translating Proust into Haitian Creole are interesting and well translated reads.