By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief
As discussed in today’s feature story, interest in Chinese literature and publishing is growing in the West — in particular as evidenced by China’s participation in the 2009 Frankfurt Book Fair, where the country was Guest of Honor, and this year’s ongoing London Book Fair, where China remains the Market Focus.
Of course, as demand grows for news about China, the demand for books from China will grow. But, notes Abrahamsen, it’s a complicated business, requiring a high degree of knowledge of the culture and, often, context from which the writing originates.
If the potential of the Chinese program in London bears fruit and deals are signed for a hundred or two hundred new titles, will translators and the industry itself be able to meet the demand? And if not, as the publishing cycles slows, will this exacerbate the ongoing lack of first-hand knowledge of the Chinese culture in the West, when it is most urgently needed? And what of censored or dissident works? Will publishers with limited access to available, capable translators prioritize deals made with more traditional, i.e. state run publishers, as a consequence of the long-term business decisions in lieu of dissident originating from outside the country or even works that would have been otherwise censored by the Chinese state?
Let us know what you think in the comments.