That’s something we can never know.
But good journalism in good translation can help.
It’s not a good idea to have a very long to-read list at the start of the New Year. There are enough “notable translations of 2013” to read a book a week for the next 18 months.
So let’s pick just one. It’s been showered with awards, it was only published in English a few weeks ago, but most importantly, it’s very readable.
Witold Szabłowski’s The Assassin from Apricot City reports from all corners Turkey, a country he knows inside out.
Like Ryszard Kapuściński before him, this is a young Pole on an adventure to get talking to the people who don’t normally make the papers. He “scoured Turkish bazaars tracing the story of the shoe that the Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi threw at George W. Bush,” as New Literature from Europe notes.
The translator, Antonia Lloyd-Jones, is well known for her translations of Paweł Huelle, Olga Tokarczuk, and – Ryszard Kapuściński.
You can read lots of extracts online here, including this one:
My pal Yusuf was a really good friend. When his money ran out, the hotel owner offered him a job on the night shift. Every time I went to Istanbul I would drop in there for a cup of coffee.
‘Istanbul is an incredible city,’ he said. ‘Here you’ll find the sort of people who’ll share their last crust of bread with you, as well as the sort who’ll cut out your kidneys and dump you in the canal.’
He was looking for the first kind; I hope he found them, because a year ago he sent me an e-mail saying: ‘I’m learning to swim ‘:-)’.
I asked: ‘Are you moving on?’ Again he replied: ‘:-)’.