Tag Archives: Chad Post

Library Journal Features Literature in Translation with New Vessel Press, Open Letter Books, and More!

Apparently translated fiction has a new vibe, which Library Journal‘s Barbara Hoffert likened to the “cool band you haven’t heard yet” vibe. On October 26, she took a look at the state of fiction in translation and profiled ground-breaking presses, including New Vessel Press, Deep Vellum Publishing, Open Letter Books, And Other Stories, Gallic Books, and Akashic Books.

Hoffert notes that many English-language readers stay away translated works, for fear of feeling intimidated. New Vessel Press, founded in 2012 by Ross Ufberg and Michael Wise and located in New York City, is specifically challenging this notion. Ufberg and Wise use their prolific language skills to find stories that will connect to all readers while providing diverse perspectives: “our books are not about what an American thinks of Paris but what a Frenchman or Turk or Russian thinks.”

Focused predominantly on translation, And Other Stories is a British-based press that emerged in 2009 from “a reading group of translators, academics, and others interested in uneRockPaperScissorsxpected, under the radar-type books,” as publisher Stefan Tobler explained. Akashic Books, created in 1996 and located in Brooklyn, NY, publishes non-mainstream authors and has also found success in publishing translated works, namely with their “Noir” series which features international authors in collections about a specific city, such as Tehran Noir.

Chad Post, publisher of Open Letter Books, noted that the success small presses have had with translation is due to the fact that they can take more risks than larger puTram83blishing houses: “small presses are getting a crack at many fine authors,” a fact obvious with Open Letter Books’ smash hit Rock, Paper, Scissors by Danish author Naja Marie Aidt. In addition, Deep Vellum Publishing’s Tram 83 by Fiston Mawanza Mujila and Gallic Books’ The Dictator’s Last Night by Yasmina Khadra are receiving numerous accolades, bringing these auDictatorsLastNightthors and presses mainstream recognition.

As Hoffert said, “a hunger to understand a world up close and personal is motivating many readers.” In addition, younger readers are turning towards translated works, getting rid of the intimidating and elitist air surrounding translation and replacing it with the youthful hipster vibe of reading something that no one else has heard of. Though still small in numbers, literature in translation is finding its home at these small presses.

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Open Letter Books’ Chad Post Expounds on Translation with Poets & Writers

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Chad Post. Photo courtesy of University of Rochester.

Contemporary literature in translation—not just translations of Tolstoy—makes up less than three percent of all books published in the U.S. This is a sad statement, especially when you think about all the great stories you could be missing out on. Chad Post and his press Open Letter Books are striving to change this. By focusing on literature in translation and community outreach programs, Post and Open Letter Books are shaking up the translating game by increasing awareness and building a community— and hopefully increasing that three percent.

Recently, Post appeared on a roundtable discussion with Jeremiah Chamberlin for Poets & Writers and colleagues at other presses to discuss the state of translations in publishing. Post transitioned into publishing from a career in bookselling because he wanted to have a hand in deciding which books are actually produced, which led to the creation of Open Letter Books in 2008. The press is a component of University of Rochester which allows Post and the press more freedom in terms of educational and community outreach programs. Post is grateful for these projects: “I think the things that define our organization, and the reasons I’m still in publishing—which can be grueling… are all the ancillary things we do for readers.”

These programs include the Three Percent blog, which is dedicated to bringing readers and translated works together, the “Best Translated Book Award” which Post started in 2007, the creation of a Translation Database, and a translation guidebook, The 100 Best International Books of the Century (So Far), which Post is compiling to provide a “snapshot of what’s being written now all over the world” according to Post’s article that appeared in the Frankfurt Show Daily for the Frankfurt Book Fair. All of these projects—and the many others that Post has in the works—strive to change “look how little is translated into English” into “look at all these great books available to readers.”OpenLetterBooks

In the round-table discussion, Post agreed that one of the most important aspects of publishing, especially for small, non-profit translation presses, is to create a community around discussions of books. Ranging from informal twitter conversations to highbrow literary discussions and book clubs to mainstream reviews, Post endorses it all: “what’s most important, in my opinion, is getting people who aren’t writers or publishing people talking about books.”

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