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Peter Bush: “For English-speaking readers, all foreign literature is a minor literature”

Literature.  Barcelona,  20/05/2014

Translations of Catalan authors into English was the topic of the last Conversation at the Llull, held on Tuesday. The writer Najat El Hachmi shared anecdotes with the translator Peter Bush, who has translated a number of Catalan authors into English, among them Josep Pla and El Hachmi herself. The journalist and literary critic Bernat Puigtobella took the chair.




Bush referred to the difficulty of getting into the English-speaking market. He says that “for English-speaking readers, all foreign literature is a minor literature… Even literatures like French or German”. Despite that, something is changing, since there is “a new generation of readers of literature in translation, a new generation that is growing. They usually come from the universities, and are linked to subjects like comparative literature”.

For her part, El Hachmi explained that she had grown up “with the idea that Catalan literature is not translated and does not sell internationally … But the fact is that I have discovered that I am more likely to be contacted from Berlin than from Alzira, for example”. Concerning her relation with Bush she said: “I know Peter very well, he is my English translator, but I would never venture to judge his task or interfere with his work”.

Peter Bush has done the English translations of El Hachmi’s novels The Body Hunter and The Last Patriarch. He is also the author of the translations of some of the outstanding classics of Catalan literature, such as Mercè Rodoreda’s In Diamond Square. He has just returned from a lecture tour of universities in the United States on The Gray Notebook, a translation published last month in the US by the New York Review Book Classics. It has been highly praised by critics there.

He has shared experiences with Najat El Hachmi in the Conversations at the Llull

Sponsors of IRL projects

The Institut Ramon Llull

is a consortium that comprises the Generalitat de Catalunya (Government of Catalonia), Balearic Islands Government and the Barcelona City Council, and its mission is the promotion of Catalan language and culture abroad.

Generalitat de CatalunyaGovern Illes BalearsAjuntament de Barcelona

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