Celebrating International Translation Day 2022

Yale University Press is pleased to join with all those who celebrate International Translation Day on September 30, 2022 to recognize and appreciate the vital role that translators play in cross-cultural understanding and the peaceful exchange of ideas.

We particularly wish to salute translators of literature, who enable great works of literary art to reach readers who might not otherwise have access to them.

A mission-driven commitment to literature in translation

In 2007, Yale University Press established the Margellos World Republic of Letters series, named for Cecile and Theodore Margellos, the generous donors who inspired and empowered it. In the decade and a half since then, this passionately mission-driven publishing endeavor has brought to the English-speaking world the work of dozens of leading literary artists and thinkers from Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Margellos titles celebrate the spirit of International Translation Day all year round, as they stimulate international discourse and creative exchange.

With seventy authors and more than one hundred volumes—and counting—the Margellos list includes Nobel Prize, Best Translated Book Award, PEN Translation, and Saif Ghobash Banipal prize winners, among other internationally recognized awards.

We’ve always put the translator’s name on the cover

On International Translation Day last year, 2021, the #TranslatorsOnTheCover movement was launched on Twitter by International Booker Prize–winning translator Jennifer Croft, who sought to draw attention to the fact that many publishers fail to properly acknowledge the translators of books. This rallying cry, and the subsequent response to it, gained attention from Publishers Weekly, Book Riot, Publishing Perspectives, the Guardian, Literary Hub, and others.

At Yale University Press, we respect and admire this effort—because a fundamental concept at the founding of the Margellos list was a desire to honor the essential work of translators. That’s why, from the very first volume in 2008, we’ve always placed the translator’s name on the cover of every Margellos book.

Margellos books manifest our commitment to honor the art of literary translation and the translators who make it possible.

Literary landmarks of our time

Through this publishing program, we’ve had the privilege of bringing forward some of the most significant literary works of our time. In 2014, when Patrick Modiano won the Nobel Prize for Literature, tens of thousands of readers—and many literary critics—were introduced to his work through our immediate publication of his book Suspended Sentences, translated by Mark Polizzotti, which we have since followed with several more of Modiano’s highly regarded books. In 2015 and 2016, we brought the most important prose work in modern Irish, Máirtín Ó Cadhain’s infamous (and hilarious) classic novel Cré na Cille, into English for the first time—in two critically acclaimed translations, The Dirty Dust (translated by Alan Titley) and Graveyard Clay (translated by Liam Mac Con Iomaire and Tim Robinson). Over the years, we’ve also introduced anglophone readers to the surreal dream-realities of Can Xue, translated by Karen Gernant and Zeping Chen and also by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen; the eloquent intensity of Claudio Magris as translated by Anne Milano Appel; and the power of Ukraine’s celebrated poet and novelist Serhiy Zhadan, translated by Reilly Costigan-Humes, Wanda Phipps, Virlana Tkacz, and Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler. Thanks to the consummate work of these and so many other brilliant translators, Margellos has become a publishing home for dozens of authors who have made and are making the literary landmarks of our time.

A better world

We note, too, that International Translation Day is not only about books and literature. It started with a resolution adopted in the United Nations General Assembly on May 24, 2017. Every September 30 is dedicated to honoring the role of translation professionals because they promote peace and friendship across nations. Yale University Press salutes all those who make our world a richer, more constructive, and more hopeful place through the art, the skill, the precision, and the gift of translation.

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