This article explores the difficulties faced by literary translators of rarer languages, but also the rewards of being able to bring virtually unknown novels to American readers.
Alex Zucker is an American literary translator, who has been translating Czech literature into English for over twenty years. He was inspired by a lecturer, Peter Kussi, at Columbia University, where Zucker completed his Masters in International Affairs, and has been translating ever since. He has translated several major works of Czech literature into English, by authors such as Jáchym Topol and Patrik Ouředník, and hopes to make Czech literature more accessible to English-speaking readers.
Given the shortage of translators from Czech to English, only three or four books by Czech authors are translated each year. Translators from less common languages are not only responsible for providing faithful translations of their chosen projects, but also for attempting to generate a wider readership for translated literature:
I think the bigger challenge right now for people who translate and people who are interested in translation is to make the books more visible… I think certain languages need more representation. Beyond that is the challenge of how to make translations more visible and publicize them more.