#TranslatedLit Editor’s Reflections by Rónán Hession

My month in the editor’s chair of the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative blog has come to an end. I’d like to thank sincerely all the publishers and contributors over the past month for providing such interesting and inspiring blog posts. At a time when everyone is so stretched and busy, your support and cooperation is very much appreciated.

I am very grateful to readers for engaging with the blog and for supporting it through comments both here and on social media. I hope that the blog has encouraged you to explore the wonderful books that have been discussed.

Warwick Prize for Women in Translation 2018

I would also like to say a special thanks to Karen Van Drie of the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative for inviting me to take on this project and for her generous support over the past few weeks.

I began the month hoping to help in some small way to provide a platform to celebrate the great work being done by publishers of translated literature. The experience has reaffirmed my admiration for this community of writers, translators and publishers who enrich our bookshelves and reading lives. I take with me some reflections:

Publishers are so much more than publishers: As these blog posts over the past month have shown, independent publishers of translated literature work to a much wider vision than just selling books (though please do buy the books). Literature and culture are ways for us to exchange lived experiences, and this exchange is fundamentally an act of respect. The most culturally porous part of us is our imaginations, so it through these international stories that we stand the best chance of transcending what separates us.

Bookshop: Buy books online. Support local bookstores.

Busy, busy: Independent publishers work so hard and get so much done. Famous, recognisable, award winning independent publishers are often run with a small core team, perhaps only a couple of people. They have used their size to their advantage by being nimble and creative; trying new things; and leading the way in promoting diversity and celebrating underappreciated talent. I love the punk spirit and enthusiasm embodied by these publishers. They operate on a human and accessible scale, and yet with such consummate professionalism and a phenomenal work ethic. I am in awe.

It takes a village to publish a book: None of this will work if we don’t behave as a community. Publishing works of translated literature is a collaborative process, most of all with readers. The best way to celebrate a book is to read it. Whenever you buy from the publisher or your local bookshop, or borrow books from the library, you are helping to complete the circle that first began with the spark of inspiration within the writer. It is your imagination that animates the words on the page, and it is your support and enthusiasm as readers that allows these wonderful publishers to continue the great work that they do.

Thank you for reading.

Rónán Hession

(Rónán Hession is guest editor on the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative blog for the month of October. Rónán is a writer and musician and has written about translated literature in the Irish Times and LitHub.)

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