SF&F at Words Without Borders

Words Without Borders, which bills itself as “The Online Magazine for International Literature” has devoted December 2009 to science fiction and fantasy. They have a range of translated works available, starting with a contribution from StanisÅ‚aw Lem and moving on through role-playing in Japan and a vision of Poland conquered by Elves to a 14th Century epic fantasy from Pakistan. You can read it all here.

The Size of the Field

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.