By Dennis Abrams
Writing for dw.de, Holger Hermann notes the “enormous interest in Western literature in Asia — namely, in Taiwan, where 25 percent of the nearly 40,000 new books published each year are translation. And, while “most of them are from English . . . books translated from German are on the rise.”
Hermann quotes translator Wei Tang, who sees the openness towards cultures and languages in Taiwan as “self-evident.” “We are living on a small island, that’s why we are interested in what’s happening in the whole world. There is a yearning for everything that’s foreign.”
The article reports that Tang is one of the “most significant mediators of German literature in Taiwan, traveling back and forth between Berlin and Taipei: raising interest in Taiwanese literature in Germany (where she accompanied Taiwanese writers to the Literary Colloquium Berlin and the Leipzig Book Fair), and raising awareness of German literature in Taiwan – a decidedly easier task.
There are several publishing houses in Taiwan that have had success with German literature – Frank Schätzing’s Der Schwarm (The Swarm) and Ferdinand von Schirach’s short story collection Verbrechen (“Crimes”) have become bestsellers.
Rex How, editor of Locus Publishing, told Hermann that, “In most countries, books written by native authors sell better than those translated from foreign languages. But in Taiwan, the reverse holds true.”
Business Weekly is the main publisher for German translations, including books by Daniel Kehlmann, Arno Geiger, and Elfriede Jelinek. Chief editor Feng Yi Cheng, attributes “growing linguistic competence” for the growing number of translations being published:
“When I started out at Business Weekly 15 years ago, we published a translation from Germany only once every two years. By now, we publish three to five such works every year. Whereas we had only two German speaking editors before, we now have four.”