by Siobhan O’Leary
For years, those who move and shake in the international publishing scene have bemoaned the fact that only three percent of the books published in the US are books published in translation.
There are signs, however, that German authors — from Jenny Erpenbeck to Daniel Kehlmann — are gaining in popularity worldwide.
Ullstein’s foreign rights director Pia Götz recently told Buchreport that she is excited about the markedly increased international demand for German titles, pointing out the exceptional success of one author in particular: Oliver Pötzsch. The first book in Pötzsch’s series Henkerstochter [“The Hangman’s Daughter”] was published in English by AmazonCrossing in December and has since sold over 100,000 copies in the Kindle Store. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will be publishing a hardcover edition.
Götz added that she has also sold rights to Nele Neuhaus’ thriller Schneewittchen muss sterben [Snow White Must Die] in 15 countries.
Riky Stock, director of the German Book Office (GBO) in New York provided the figures to back up the trend, adding that translations from German to English in the US last year nearly doubled to 34 from 19 in 2009. Among the 34 titles were 23 novels, nine non-fiction titles and two children’s books.
Several agents reported particular success at this year’s London Book Fair, among them Berlin-based Michael Gaeb (Literarische Agentur Michael Gaeb, Berlin). Gaeb told Buchreport that he not only sold Dutch and Spanish rights to Max Bentour’s novel Der Federmann, but also launched an auction in the US for World English rights — all this despite the fact that the book will not be released in Germany until the fall.