US French Embassy Releases Its 2016 Translation Report

In News by Dennis Abrams

The US French Embassy’s books division reports that 32 French titles for kids are among a strong showing of translations in the United States in 2016.
Image - iStockphoto: DK Photos

Image – iStockphoto: DK Photos

By Dennis Abrams | @DennisAbrams2

Report: 145 Books From French in the US This Year, the book department of the French Embassy has announced the publication of their new list of French books translated in the United States.

300 The Markets logo linedAs an introduction to the list, the department offers an overview:

  • A total 417 titles have been cataloged so far this year (around 360 for 2015), which indicates that the market “seems to be strengthening in the US.”
  • This is the year of the nonfiction book, with 159 total titles scheduled for publication. That’s an increase over the last several years–the number of nonfiction titles showing steady growth from 119 in 2013 to 140 in 2014 and 145 in 2015.
  • There has been a steady demand for philosophy titles, including titles by Alain Badiou, Michel Serres, Barbara Cassin, Jacques Rancière, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Hélène Cixous.

Along with philosophy texts are books from other disciplines that the embassy says were underrepresented before this year, including:

  • Books in sociology (with titles by Didier Fassin, Laurent, Fleury, and others);
  • Anthropology (including Barbara Gloczweski, and Claude Lévi-Strauss’ We Are All Cannibals, a French Voices title):
  • Natural sciences (Christophe Bonneuil, Yves Christen, Patrick Forterre, Chris Herzfeld);
  • Economics (Thomas Piketty, Jean-Hervé Lorenzi, Célestin Monga); and
  • Psychology (Elisabeth Roudinesco, Dominique Scarfone).

Historical books are a “bigger part of the nonfiction market this year as well,” according to the project’s information, including cultural history, art history, and political science. French and Francophone views of the Arab World drew attention this year as well, including titles by such writers as Adonis, Edwy Plenel, Bernard Rougier, Stéphanie Lacroix and Aurélie Daher, as did academic biographies on such important figures as Cocteau, Kamisky, Freud, Casanova, Renoir, Montaigne, Aragon, and Rohmer.

As for fiction, 145 books translated from the French reportedly are being published in 2016, including 89 contemporary novels, “contemporary” meaning released in France between 2000 and 2016. Many of these are by French authors being published for the first time by an American publisher, including Maylis de Kerangal (longlisted for this year’s Man Booker International Prize), Véronique Bizot, Nathalie Léger, Fouad Laroui, Nelly Alard and Adrien Bosc, with his debut novel, Constellation.

Several authors’ second or third translated novels, such as those written by Abdellah Taïa, Scholastique Mukasonga, Lola Lafon, Antoine Laurain, Hélène Grémillon, David Foenkinos, Sébastien Brebel and Ananda Devi, have also been released.

According to the French Embassy’s book department’s announcement: “This suggests that some authors are managing to extend their ‘one shot at being translated in the US into a sustainable presence in the American market: once they have ‘broken in,’ not only do American publishers follow up by translating their latest books, but they also show interest in these authors’ backlists.”

Graphic novels are also making their mark in the American market, with 65 titles translated from French being released in 2016. A “further sign of the previously-acknowledged vitality of French and Belgian comics in the United States.”

Classics of the genre (including titles from The Smurfs) continue to do well, as do new graphic biographies, new series by contemporary authors, along with works by younger, edgy graphic novelists.

And, as the embassy’s book department reports:

“Some publishers are opening up to graphic novels for the first time this year, signified most notably by the launch of NYRB Comics, which just published the remarkable Peplum, by Blutch, among other exciting works…

“The American interest in the creativity of French and Belgian artists is particularly evident in the kids’ section, with 32 titles by boundary-pushing children’s authors from independent presses such as Joëlle Jolivet, Lucie Félix and Matthieu Maudet, all being translated in 2016.”

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.