Book Publishers Try to Sell Chinese Fiction in Translation

American and British publishers try to sell Chinese fiction
Photograph by Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images

Although China is now the world’s second-largest economy, few Chinese writers are read outside the country or inform the global conversation. In 2012, American publishers purchased translation rights for just 453 foreign titles, about 3 percent of the total books published in the U.S. Of those, just 16 were books first published in Chinese, according to records kept by Chad Post, publisher of New York-based Open Letter Books press. (The percentages for translated books in the U.K. are similar, according to Open Letter.) “China has the largest reading public in the world, but until recently we’ve had relatively little access to its literary scene,” says Post. Yet he is optimistic about the future of translated Chinese works in America. “People are more familiar with China. The pitch for a book doesn’t have to rely on painting China as exotic and crazy anymore.”

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