Saturday, November 07, 2015

Embarrassment of Riches Department

It’s been almost a full year since I last posted on this blog, but I have some news that I think rates more than a Facebook post: I’m going to have three translations published in 2016, all in the spring: in March, Tomáš Zmeškal’s Love Letter in Cuneiform, for the Margellos World Republic of Letters at Yale University Press; in April, Josef Jedlička’s Midway Upon the Journey of Our Life, for Karolinum Press (ignore the mistaken title; I changed it after this web page was made); and in May, Magdaléna Platzová’s The Attempt, for Bellevue Literary Press. More news to come, obviously, but I wanted to get word out as soon as possible. It’s going to be a busy year. Sláva!

Note: Since I currently serve as cochair of the PEN America Translation Committee, and in this capacity promote to both translators and publishers the model contract for literary translation, which among other things states that “the translator’s name shall appear on the cover,” no doubt some inquiring minds are wondering why my name is absent from two of the three covers above. In the case of the Karolinum book, the answer is that it should be there and the fact that it is not is an oversight on the part of the designer, which I have pointed out to the publisher. In the case of the Bellevue book, the answer is that my name will appear on the back cover, but not the front. This was the agreement I reached in the course of my negotiations with the publisher, in which we each met the other halfway on a variety of points where we started from different positions. It was the longest negotiation I have ever had, and to be honest, probably also the most satisfying one, because of the obvious respect and understanding we had for each other throughout. Every contract is a negotiation. That is the first and most important thing to know for a translator entering into a contract with a publisher.