The National Book Foundation will conduct a study of translation in the United States. The study will be funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The study, to be overseen by former NBF director Harold Augenbraum, will examine translation trends in America, including how much work in translation is published and purchased, how the availability of translated works affects readership, and how the network of translators in the U.S. functions. Additionally, the study will look at how the availability of translated work affects the way people read.
Peter Bearman, director of Columbia University's social science research center Incite, and Rebecca Guenther, former bibliographer at the Library of Congress, will assist in the study, as will a number of other professionals in publishing, translation, and bibliography.
“The National Book Foundation’s Board of Directors believes that working to explore how translated work can and does impact American readers is hugely important,” NBF board chairman David Steinberger said in a statement.
The study will count and analyze the number, and diversity, of translated works published in the United States, focusing on factors including the languages and countries from which the works originate and the characteristics of the publishers publishing them. By focusing on these factors, the NBF hopes to translators, publishers, and readers with data on the availability and range of translated books in the American marketplace.
"The National Book Foundation has long had the mandate of supporting and celebrating the best in American literature," NBF executive director Lisa Lucas said. "But we are also a nonprofit organization devoted to enhancing the cultural value of good writing in America—which means that as an institution, we have to think about all readers and all literature."
"Better understanding how we read work in translation, and how we might further promote the reading and availability of such work, acknowledges that we live in an increasingly interconnected world," Lucas added. "This project is also an opportunity to strengthen our ties to organizations that are already deeply engaged in this work."