Global lit: Not lost in translation

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When we tucked into The New York Times Book Review a few weekends back, an interesting list of publishing industry stats jumped out at us. In 2006, there were 1.5 million books published worldwide and 30% of them were in English. That’s some number when you consider that there are 6,912 languages spoken on Earth.

So what’s getting translated where? Amman, Jordan is finally getting Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club this year. Native speaking Albanians have 6,000 copies of The Da Vinci Code to fight over. Harry Potter is casting spells in 64 languages including Ancient Greek, Icelandic, Urdu, and Sinhala. And English speakers can finally read the Croatian poetry in Palindronska Apokalipsa (Palindrome Apocalypse).

To see all of the oddly entertaining global publishing facts in The New York Times, look up the April 15 issue of the newspaper’s Sunday Book Review and check out the Data article “Comparative Literature” by Jascha Hoffman.

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