Dalya Alberge, writing in The Guardian, asserted Saturday that there is a “mini-boom” in literature translated into English. It’s hard to say if that’s the case — Alberge doesn’t have hard numbers — but the success of A Bird is Not a Stone is surely instructive:
The collection of poems, published by Freight Books this year, crowd-funded its UK launch tour, which just ended. The tour closed on a high note, with an announcement that all 1200 copies of the first run had been sold, and that the book was now headed back to the printer.
Surely, 1,200 copies is not much for a mainstream romance novel, but, the book’s editors “reckon that sending that many copies of a poetry book – and a book of translated poetry, where some of the translations are into ‘minority’ languages such as Gaelic and Shetlandic – out into the world is a terrific achievement.”
Part of the book’s success has been in involving so many people in the process: from the crowd-funding, to the translations, to inviting people to events. And part is its unique literary position, as a collection of contemporary Palestinian poetry translated into a number of Scottish languages.
The collection has brought a boost of literary energy to Scotland and beyond. May there really be a “mini-boom” in translated literature, and many more such projects.
From one of a series of events at the Edinburgh Book Fringe 2014, hosted by Word Power Books: