“Artistic exchange between cultures is a crucial component of global understanding”
I was born in Poland and for twenty-seven years of my life, apart from the first six when my reading skills were fairly poor, I have been exposed to literature and books from around the world. Publishing in my home country went through a very difficult journey and non-Polish titles allowed me to travel around the world in my imagination. My favourite writers are from Albania, Chile, Hungary, and Russia.
I heard a lot about high reading standards in the UK. On my arrival I was looking forward to experience a wonderful voyage through the bookshop shelves where I would find literature that would enrich my personal library. When I was looking for titles by Sandor Marai one bookseller suggested that it would be wiser to learn Hungarian because translations are not something which I would find in the UK book market.
Just 3% of books published last year in the UK have been translations.
Through my work placement in Vagabond Voices I understood how difficult it is to publish successful translations. It’s a time and money consuming process, with little chance of any financial profits. Beside these difficulties there are people like Allan Cameron (Vagabond Voices director) who believes in the importance of bringing books from abroad into the UK market.
“To discover the most advanced ideas in literature, you need to know what is happening elsewhere, and however vast the English-speaking world may be, it is still thinking through the closed mechanisms of a single language.”
This small publishing house was launched in 2008 and was based on Lewis, until recently moving to Glasgow. Vagabond Voices specialise in translations of contemporary literature, political polemics and rants.