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Leveraging Translation to Promote Taiwan Literature

  • PublishTime:2023-03-23

by Gregory Laslo
Literary translation has become an important component in Taiwan’s overseas visibility ever since the National Museum of Taiwan Literature (NMTL) established the Taiwan Literature Translation Center (TLTC) in 2012, to help secure for literature a regular and positive role in Taiwan’s international relations. Ongoing TLTC activities include surveying the perception and reception of Taiwan literature in other countries, coordinating translator training and translation publication, and advancing international literary exchange and cooperation.
NMTL has also launched  the Literature-in-Translation Repository, an open-access database for literary translation to centralize translation resources. This tool facilitates the systematic collection and storage of information about Taiwan literature-in-translation from many sources, both public and private, domestic and international. To help facilitate authorized international marketing and sales of Taiwan literature, information accessible via the online repository covers bibliographic information, abstracts, tables of contents, GIS-enabled publisher details, and translator profiles. The Repository now hosts nearly 900 catalogs of translations of Taiwan literature, across 27 languages and more than a thousand translators, and is an invaluable platform for the integration of Taiwan’s literary and translation resources, and related research and exchange activities.
This was not NMTL’s first use of translation to promote Taiwan literature on an international level. From 2011 to 2015, NMTL provided subsidies for nearly 100 translation projects; in the New Southbound Literature Translation Project and similar programs which followed, 134 classic and award-winning works by Taiwanese authors were translated and promoted to countries including the U.S., Japan, South Korea, France, Germany, and the Czech Republic.
In 2020, the Literature From Taiwan (LiFT) series was launched in cooperation with local publishers in the U.S., France, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Japan, aiming to publish books and anthologies on a wide variety of themes, including gender, queerness, democracy, and human rights. Among them was Ye Shitao’s A History of Taiwan Literature , translated by Professor Christopher Lupke of the University of Alberta, and published by Cambria Press in the U.S., and winner of the 2019-2020 MLA Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for a Translation of a Scholarly Study of Literature.
From offline research programs to online information platforms, NMTL is tapping the power of professional literary translation to traverse new horizons in literature, and ensure its unique voice and perspectives are heard round the world.
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