Why we promote literature in translation

Fiction in translation only accounts for 3.5% of literary fiction titles published in the UK, according to research conducted by Nielsen Book last year.

However, the research, commissioned by the Man Booker International Prize, also found that translated literary fiction performed better on average in the UK than literary fiction originally written in English. Nielsen looked at physical books sales between 2001 to 2015 and found that in comparison, translated fiction sales almost doubled during this time whereas fiction as a whole fell from 51.6m in 2001 to 49.7m in 2015.

It seems that translated fiction is becoming increasingly popular. Waterstones fiction buyer Chris West has said that we seem to be at a new stage where readers are “not only happy to read fiction in translation but are positively seeking it out”.

Fiammentta Rocco, administrator of the Man Booker International Prize, believes that there are three reasons for the increase in translated fiction sales: people are travelling more, foreign television shows such as The Killing are becoming more popular and some small publishers (such as Tilted Axis Press) are thriving who deal almost entirely with translated fiction.

The Man Booker International Prize, which celebrates the finest in translated fiction from around the world, and rewards author and translator equally, has a vital role to play in raising the profile of translated fiction and shares brilliant books with new audiences.

The Man Booker International Prize and The Reading Agency

We are delighted to be working with the Man Booker International Prize for the second year running to help translated fiction reach a wider audience through libraries and reading groups. Six of the brilliant reading groups registered on our Reading Groups for Everyone website are ‘shadowing’ the prize this year by reading and reviewing one of the shortlisted titles, generating conversation within their group and with others online and discovering new literary landscapes in the process.

Libraries across the UK have received display materials to promote the prize, and translated fiction, within their communities.

Anyone can also download free resources from our website, such as readers’ guides and supporting booklists, to help them widen their reading choices.

Get involved

Discover the books shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize this year. What do you think of the 2017 titles? Let us know on social media using #MBI2017.

Download our Man Booker International Prize resources and see if you are inspired to try something different for your next read.

Find out more about the Man Booker International Prize

The Reading Agency

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