Industry Notes: ‘La Rentrée Littéraire’ For All in France; English PEN’s Translation Awards

In News by Porter Anderson

Sixty-five publishers are engaged in the fifth year of France’s bid to make new books digitally accessible. And English PEN’s ‘Translates’ awards include translator-led entries.

Image – iStockphoto: LD Prod

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

EPUB3 and Accessibility in Books

A fifth annual observation of la rentrée littéraire pour tous is underway, led by the French publishers association (Syndicat national de l’édition, or SNE) and the National Library of France (Bibliothèque nationale de France, or BnF).

Organized to coincide with la rentrée littéraire—the autumn literary season in France in which hundreds of new books are released—this initiative pour tous, or “for all,” aims to make the books of the literary season accessible to visually impaired readers.

The cost of special editions for sight-challenged citizens is covered by the National Book Center (Centre national du livre, or CNL), under its mandate to make literature available to all audiences.

This year, according to information from the SNE, 65 publishers arranged to provide files of their digital books to the program early so that large print, audio, and Braille editions could be prepared during the summer.

And the program’s track record is good: Since 2017, some 328 titles have been made available this way, comprising 94 percent of books selected for literary prize honors.

La rentrée littéraire pour tous is one of several a French publishing industry projects aiming to promote accessible EPUB3 formats. The program is aligned with the EDRLab, which is supported financially by France’s ministry of culture, the National Book Center, and SNE.

Partner associations in the effort include:

English PEN Honors Books in 14 Languages: PEN Translates

Announced Wednesday (November 8) by English PEN, books from 15 countries and 14 languages are winners of the “PEN Translates” award in the UK.

One of the books—The Desert and the Drum, by Mbarek Ouid Beyrouk, translated from the French by Rachael McGill—is the first novel from Mauritania to be translated into English, according to the award organizers. There also are translations into English from Occitan, Galician, and Albanian.

Ros Schwartz, who co-chairs the awards committee, said in a press statement that “a number of the projects” that won awards were “translator-led, underscoring the proactive role translators can play in bringing books to publishers’ attention.”

The criteria for selection in the PEN Translates honors are “outstanding literary quality, strength of the publishing project, and contribution to literary diversity in the UK,” according to material from the organization.

Here’s the list of awardees.

  • The Yogini by Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay, translated from Bengali by Arunava Sinha. Tilted Axis Press, October 2019. Country of origin: India
  • Butterfly Valley by Sherko Bekas, translated from Sorani (Iraqi Kurdish) by Choman Hardi. Arc Publications, March 2018. Country of origin: Iraqi Kurdistan
  • The Desert and the Drum by Mbarek Ould Beyrouk, translated from French by Rachael McGill. Dedalus, June 2018. Country of origin: Mauritania
  • The Eight Mountains by Paolo Cognetti, translated from Italian by Simon Carnell and Erica Segre. Harvill Secker, April 2018. Country of origin: Italy
  • The Chilli Bean Paste Clan by Yan Ge, translated from Chinese by Nicky Harman. Balestier Press, June 2018. Country of origin: China
  • Men Don’t Cry by Faïza Guène, translated from French by Sarah Ardizzone. Cassava Republic, September 2018. Country of origin: France
  • L’ora de partir by Sèrgi Javaloyès, translated from Occitan by James Thomas. Francis Boutle, autumn 2018. Country of origin: France
  • A Place Upon Your Face by Sema Kaygusuz, translated from Turkish by Nicholas Glastonbury. Tilted Axis Press, November 2018. Country of origin: Turkey
  • The Luminous Novel by Mario Levrero, translated from Spanish by Annie McDermott. And Other Stories, spring 2020. Country of origin: Uruguay
  • Negative Space by Luljeta Lleshanaku, translated from Albanian by Ani Gjika. Bloodaxe Books, February 2018. Country of origin: Albania
  • Home is Like a Different Time by Eva Moreda, translated from Galician by Craig Patterson. Francis Boutle, 2018. Country of origin: Spain
  • States of Passion by Nihad Sirees, translated from Arabic by Max Weiss. Pushkin Press, August 2018. Country of origin: Syria
  • The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk, translated from Polish by Jennifer Croft. Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2019. Country of origin: Poland
  • The Shape of the Ruins by Juan Gabriel Vásquez, translated from Spanish by Annie McLean. Maclehose Press, May 2018. Country of origin: Colombia
  • The Polyglot Lovers by Lina Wolff, translated from Swedish by Saskia Vogel. And Other Stories, February 2019. Country of origin: Sweden
  • Moving Parts by Prabda Yoon, translated from Thai by Mui Poopoksakul. Tilted Axis Press, October 2018. Country of origin: Thailand

The winning books are featured on English PEN’s World Bookshelf website, which is produced in cooperation with Foyles.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.