German Edition of Franzen’s Freedom Suffers from Dual Translators

In German Buch News by Siobhan O'Leary

By Siobhan O’Leary

The massive 736-page tome that is the German edition of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, has just been released in Germany to overwhelmingly positive reviews and is already quickly racing up the list of’s top-selling titles.

However, in a round-up of industry news, Buchreport sums up the Süddeutsche Zeitung‘s coverage of the release with a question about whether the translation may have suffered a bit in German publisher Rowohlt’s quest to release the book as close to the US publication date as possible. To meet its September 8 release date, the publisher hired two different renowned translators, which, according to the SZ, resulted in two distinct tones within the book.

The increasing pressure on foreign publishers to release their editions simultaneously certainly raises a dilemma when it comes to titles of this length. The alternative of using just one translator and postponing the German pub date by months would likely have raised just as many eyebrows.

Franzen, who also translates from German into English, will be attending this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair.

About the Author

Siobhan O'Leary

Siobhan O’Leary is a literary agent, translator and writer based in Berlin. She previously worked in the Foreign Rights department of the Crown Publishing Group (Random House) and at the publishing consulting firm Market Partners International.