September 2017: Прессъобщение: Първи каталог с арабски преводи на съвременни автори от България и Балканите
May 2017: Press Release: Translation Collider Forum will gather professionals from over 10 countries
Bridge Over Troubled Waters:
|Publisher||Country||Number of publications|
|L’Esprit des Péninsules||France||17|
Although the figures show a factual increase in the translation flow over the last five years, the measures taken for the promotion of Bulgarian literature abroad still seem inappropriate and ineffective. This could be attributed to a number of closely connected factors. Bulgarian governmental and academic institutions demonstrate a lack of concern or indifference about the weak market position and informational isolation of translators from Bulgarian. At the same time, most of the existing grant-giving and promotional schemes are conservative and oriented towards national culture marketing, instead of stimulating intercultural dialogue and literary communication. Due to the lack of a proactive policy, almost no synergy is observed between public and privately funded institutions nor between the various segments involved in the process, which makes translation flow and promotion inert, discontinuous, and inoperative. Last but not least, over the last decade Bulgarian publishers – the main and sole literary agents at the moment – have proved their skills in following the publishing business’ imperatives when it comes to importing international titles, but are still not active and flexible enough at attracting international attention to the Bulgarian writers in their catalogues. The effects of all this can be traced in the foreign publishers’ records, in which Bulgarian titles still appear in small print-runs, and could hardly ever become steady- or good- (to say nothing of “best”-) sellers. Even more alarming is the fact that almost none of the interviewed foreign publishers took the risk of including a second or a third title by the same Bulgarian author in its catalogue. As a result, most of the publications are just “entries” in this remarkable bibliographic list. The real literary “events” can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and the “breakthroughs” with well-positioned publishers of literary translations are more than rare.
The methodology developed for this study integrates quantitative analysis (statistics about the most translated authors, most active publishers and translators, as well as the most frequent target languages) and qualitative research approaches, based on more than 60 interviews with key mediators – translators, publishers, academics – who make literary translations from Bulgarian possible. The interviews covered a broad range of topics: from the “seismic zones” of title selection and “export”, to the clogged channels of literary communication; from the translators’ poor training opportunities and working conditions, to the growing deficit of information resources on the contemporary literary scene in Bulgaria. In order to reflect the complexity of its subject, the study is supplemented by six specially commissioned case studies, focusing on Bulgarian translations in France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. The above-mentioned countries were chosen due to their traditionally strong interest in Bulgarian literature, as well as their experience in cultivating translators, and even “schools” of translators (as is demonstrated in the Italian case).
Bulgaria is currently the only EU country (except England) that does not have a comprehensive public policy for supporting translations of its literature abroad and for the participation of its authors in international literary exchange. As a part of the project’s dissemination phase, the Next Page Foundation organized a round table discussion on May 18, 2011, at the Goethe Institute, Sofia, which was meant to tackle the possible strategic approaches for such a policy. Representatives from the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, major publishers, librarians, translators, NGOs and academics debated the issues raised by the study. But while major stakeholders welcomed the Next Page approach of providing recommendations for an evidence-based cultural policy, there is currently little hope that active and adequate governmental commitment and support can be expected any time soon.
Judging from the feedback received since May 2011 to date, it seems that the study has been more enthusiastically received and more actively used outside of Bulgaria – by cultural organizations, publishers and book-event organizers, rather than in the country whose cultural policy it was meant to serve.
The full-text study (in Bulgarian only) is available here. The bibliography of literary translations from Bulgarian into 39 languages (1989-2010) is available here. To get a free printed copy of the study or for further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org