Credit Where Credit is Due

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Last week's entry highlighted the fact that Brazilian publishers are rushing the literary translation process and stocking the shelves with books of dubious quality. Now, let's give credit where credit is due: The Brazilian Government is making strong efforts to showcase the national literature worldwide. Bravo!

The latest effort is a magazine called Machado de Assis, after Brazil's most celebrated author. The first issue came out October 10th and featured 22 texts by Brazilian authors translated into English and Spanish. 

"Brazilian literature [...] is enjoying increasing attention from editors, booksellers, scholars and, above all, readers," says President of the National Library Foundation Galeno Amorim in a statement posted to the website. "After all, at this moment in which people all over the planet are eager to get to know and understand a country that is emerging as a world power, there is no better place to start than with its culture and, in particular, books and literature."

In addition to the magazine, the government is also planning to invest $30 million U.S. dollars through 2020 in translation grants, including incentives to foreign translators who wish to enjoy a residency program and live in Brazil while translating national authors into their native language―especially German, Italian, Spanish, and French. Part of the investment will also be used to boost the presence of Brazilian authors abroad, since the country will be the guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2013.

These are all great initiatives and will certainly elevate the rich literature and diversified image of Brazil worldwide. Still, culture is not a one-way road and there is great concern over the quality of the literature that comes into the country, translated from other languages into Portuguese, and is targeted at readers in Brazil. We should all show the same level of respect for the national audience as the government is showing for Brazilian authors and international audiences with book translation efforts of this magnitude.