Just how many science fiction and fantasy books are published in English translation each year? That’s a question we kept getting asked when we first launched these awards. Well, the University of Rochester keeps track of all translated literature in the USA. Their blog is called Three Percent, because that’s roughly the proportion of books published in the USA each year that are translated. According to their data, there were 283 works of translated fiction (including collections and anthologies) and 65 works of translated poetry published in the USA in 2009.
Whether this list is a good guide to the size of our field is another matter. The list appears to be missing many of the science fiction and fantasy works published in 2009. It doesn’t cover books published in other countries such as the UK and Canada. And it doesn’t cover graphic novels, where a huge amount of translated work is published. But it does give a good idea of just how little fiction is translated into English. That’s something we hope to help change.
As an Australian science fiction writer (published twice this year in the US) I am genuinely surprised at the small numbers involved.
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