Posts by tag: rejection

Geometry in the Dust, Inside the Castle


My translation of Géométrie dans la poussière by Pierre Senges (Verticales/Le Seuil, 2004)  will be published in three months. April, 2019, that is. The publisher is Inside the Castle. The translated edition will reproduce the 26 eye-popping illustrations by Killoffer that feature in the original. I announced this on twitter but I don’t think I have announced it here.

It is a book about cities. Around 100 pages.

I consider Inside the Castle to be very much at the vanguard of publishing in the USA right now. I first became aware of this press a few years ago when I had a translation published in Vestiges_02John Trefry (founding editor, designer, etc) also had a piece in that volume. Before sending my manuscript to Inside the Castle I sent it around quite a lot and it accumulated many rejections. So it is very gratifying to see this work going into the world. I think a good cross-section of the readers and writers who have been following the releases of Inside the Castle will appreciate it. Their audience, as imaginary as it is real, I like to think of as a cult, and it is a cult to which I am happy to belong.

If you would like a review copy of the book when it comes out, drop me a line.

Rejection, the Lot of the Translator

I enjoyed reading Lawrence Venuti’s article in the most recent issue of Translation Review, though I found myself at odds with its academic jargon at times, its incessant referring to “the global circulation of texts,” “the global hegemony of English,” and what I take to be other abstractions.

Recounting his experience of translating J.V. Foix’s Daybook 1918 and seeking a publisher for it, Venuti makes the claim — in no way contentious, I do not think — that the work in translation of authors writing in a minority language (as Foix in Catalan) faces an additional hurdle to earning the attention of readers, especially that special class of readers: editors and publishers.

I took bittersweet consolation in reading of Venuti’s bootless attempts to publish his translations of Foix’s prose poems, which met with a “succession of rejections” from publishers “unable to appreciate Foix in English (or perhaps my English).” A bittersweet consolation, because as a translator I too have received a “succession of rejections” from publishers, and because I learned that the difficulties I face there are faced equally by the likes of someone as accomplished as Venuti. Of course that latter point could just as soon be reason for discouragement as for consolation: if Venuti in his laurels can’t get a contract for his Foix book, I’m not likely to fare much better, lowly upstart I am.

But what struck me most is that Venuti names names and quotes a number of prominent publishers in their rejection letters to him. (Whether he obtained their permission to do so was something I asked myself about; his commentary on their remarks I found subtly barbed, but perhaps I was projecting.) This is a lovely thing but far too specialized for our list, wrote Jonathan Galassi, president and publisher of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. I cannot get close to this work, said  Jack Shoemaker, editorial director of Counterpoint Press. Nor did the project seem a good fit to Jill Schoolman, editor-in-chief of Archipelago Books, despite her appreciation of certain qualities of the work.

So the struggle that is literary translation goes on. This is just how it is.

Venuti, Lawrence. “Translation, Publishing, and World Literature: J.V. Foix’s Daybook 1918 and the Strangeness of Minority.” Translation Review 95: 8-24. 2016.