There's a whole world of literature out there - in Europe, writes Ruaridh Nicoll.
After attending a talk on German translations at the Edinburgh International Book Festival last week, Nicoll reports :
"Michael Kruger, a hugely respected German publisher, said that 50 per cent of the books he takes on are translated from other languages. In Britain however, only 2 or 3 per cent of the novels in the shops are originally written in languages other than English, and this despite many publishers being owned by German conglomerate Bertelsmann. Given how close we are to Europe, this is not only disappointing, it's disturbing; it means we don't really know what the neighbours are thinking.
As the discussion went on, it grew depressing. 'One million British people go to France every year, but they never read any contemporary French authors,' said Kruger. If Britons holidaying in Greece opened a Greek book, he said, it was more likely to be Homer than anything written in the past few years.The nadir was reached when discussing Imre Kertesz, who had only one book translated into English (badly) by the University of Indiana when he won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2002."
Full article in the Observer
One of the comments rightly points out how Britain is in Europe and that the title says it all!