The “Three Percent” website just put out a press release announcing its nominations for the best translated literature of the previous year. Here is the first paragraph of the press release:
The 25-title fiction longlist for the 2011 Best Translated Book Awards was announced this morning at Three Percent—a resource for international literature at the University of Rochester.
Who are these folks? This is what they say:
Three Percent launched in the summer of 2007 with the lofty goal of becoming a destination for readers, editors, and translators interested in finding out about modern and contemporary international literature.
And that is why it is interesting to note what is NOT on their list – There are no novels from any Asian nation, which of course means no novels from Korea. This made me wonder if Rochester even knew about Korean fiction.
I scrolled back for the entire year’s worth of reviews and did not find a review of any translated Korean fiction. This year, that means they overlooked Kim Young-ha’s “Your Republic is Calling You,” which seems to speak to a kind of willful ignorance by the University. I went back another year and still found no reviews. This also means that they somehow managed to not review Pak Wan-suh’s “Who Ate Up All the Shinga,” which is also a kind of stunning achievement in the field of international literary ignorance.^^
It is not that they don’t know these books were published, as both are in the Excel databases of translations that the site maintains. So, either Rochester does not think these works are up to snuff (which I would argue with, but is at least a legitimate critical stance) or they don’t care to review Korean works.
My question, which I tried to ask obliquely on their website, is if they are unaware of these works? That is, they note that these works exist in their database, but perhaps the works don’t make a real impression in their collective head? If that is true, some of the responsibility likely falls back on Korea for its so-s0 job at marketing its translated works. Either way, this seems like another project – to keep the folks at Rochester thinking, at least, about Korean literature in translation.
A Hat-tip to commenter Charles for catching this, and making some other clever observations in a comment on the previous post.