Next Up: Arabic ‘Granta’

An article in this week’s New York Times notes that the first issue of the new Chinese-language Granta will appear next month.

Granta (English): Spring 2012

The leading literary journal, founded at Cambridge in 1889, is already published in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Bulgarian, Swedish, and Norwegian.

Indeed, the NYTimes notes, “Arabic is the only language in the top five that doesn’t have its own edition.”

The Times further notes:

The foreign-language editions not only feature translated versions of articles that originally appeared in the English-language Granta, but many of the editions also commission original work by local writers, some of which has in recent years made its way into the parent magazine.

Granta editor John Freeman didn’t specifically mention Arabic in the NYTimes article, but he did say that, “In five years I could see us with 15 or 17 foreign editions.” That’s exceptionally ambitious. And really, if there are going to be 15 or 17 (he evidently doesn’t like even numbers), then Arabic must be one of them.

Surely there are Arab authors out there eager for the project. For instance, authors Laila Lalami and Ghazi Gheblawi were quick to respond to a short tweet about the (possible) magazine.

That’s the idea, according to Freeman, who told the NYT: “Rather than beat our heads against the wall trying to find the one creative writing student at a university who will subscribe, I want to find the people who really want and really need the magazine, wherever they are, and that means looking at the world.”

The foreign-language editions also function as “scouts,” according to Freeman, searching for literary talent all over the world.

But even more delightfully, in the words of Roberto Feith, editorial director of Granta Brazil: “To me the most interesting aspect of the globalization of Granta is that it’s creating a forum for the exchange of great writing that is not limited to a flow of English-language writing from Granta U.K. to each of the other countries but moves in all directions.”

Gheblawi has already volunteered, and you can count me in for at least one subscription.