Busting Myths About (French) Books in Translation

In What's the Buzz by Edward Nawotka

Le French Book

By Edward Nawotka

Over at the blog of the publisher Le French Book — a publisher of French genre titles in translation which we profiled earlier last year — considers several of the “myths” concerning books in translation, breaking it down into six parts. Here’s a preview:

Myth 1. Translations are for eggheads…The most common misconception about translations is that they are “too literary” and “too serious.

Myth 2. Nobody reads translations…It only takes one name to burst this myth: Stieg Larsson. The Millennium series topped 64 million in sales

Myth 3. Nobody publishes translated fiction…The most-repeated statistic about translation is that only three percent of all US book output consists of works in translation. Yet, Open Letter Books’ Three Percent blog reports a 26.3% increase in the total number of works of fiction translated in the United States in 2012.

Myth 4. Who needs it anyway, we’ve got machine translation…Many people have no idea at all what goes into translating a work of fiction.

Myth 5. It’s always better in the original…Thanks to that movie directed by Sofia Coppola, the word “lost” is often put up along side “in translation,” which is totally unfair.

Myth 6: French fiction is stuffy…French fiction may have different codes, but going by just pure worldwide popularity—French is the top language translated into English—either people like it that way, or French fiction has something going for it.

For a more thorough examination of the concepts, see the original posts:

Fiction in translation myths 1 and 2

Fiction in translation myths 3 and 4

Fiction in translation myths 5 and 6


About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.