After years of ignoring translation and frequently failing to mention translators’ names, Amazon has risen to the challenge of promoting translated fiction. Given the dominance of this online bookseller, the move may even boost sales of foreign authors from the pitiful current levels.
The new Literature in Translation page offers access to bestselling titles as well as a series of spotlight boxes for individual authors: Saramago, Allende, Alaa Al Aswany, Sciascia, to name just a few.
There are also a series of “Focus on” features referring to both authors and publishers. I was pleased to find Andrea Camilleri, the Sicilian author whose Montalbano series is back on Italian TV at the moment (a highlight of the week for this household!). There is even a fan club website for the small town where the fictional Montalbano lives: Vigata.
Bitter Lemon Press also get a focus box: hot tips include Teresa Solana’s A Not So Perfect Crime, short-listed for the 2008 Salambó Prize for best novel in Catalan, Leonardo Padura’s Havana Gold, and In Matto’s Realm from Friedrich Glauser, often referred to as the Swiss Simenon.
All in all, a good move – although I wish it were a little easier to find from the home page.