The Linguist

The Linguist 53,4

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Vol/53 No/4 2014 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER The Linguist 11 RUSSIAN IN THE UK author, as only a few publishing houses take on fiction in translation. This is largely due to the substantial investment required, which makes the decision to publish translations financially risky. Glagoslav Publications was established in 2011 by a group of like-minded professionals who noticed a void in the market and the urgency to fill it in with quality books from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. When it came to English language translations, all three countries appeared to be under represented, given the UK's vibrant multicultural society and large Slavic population. Our mission has been to increase the volume of titles coming from Slavic countries and to provide British readers with access to contemporary literary influencers from the region. The drastically changing reality in Russia since the end of the Soviet Union has created a generation of writers with strong social and political views, who are determined to take an active part in their country's future. Literature has always been a solid rock that people can rely on during turbulent times, so contemporary Russian authors – raised in an atmosphere of change – saw it as their duty to produce works that would speak for the people and to the people, inspiring dialogue and a proactive approach to life. Since 2011, Glagoslav has published 16 titles translated from Russian. In our selection process, we focus on works of high literary value, and unique stories that deserve attention beyond their native lands. But regardless of how well-known the author is at home, it is the publisher who needs to build recognition in Britain. Here, we have to deal with bridging the cultural and social gap that still exists between the two countries. However, while some cultural quirks require explanation and the interpretation of historical facts is still a matter for special attention, it is becoming much easier to ensure that the messages of the original text are widely understood. The various grants available for British publishers to support translations are growing, and this – together with authors' events and cultural activities surrounding each publication – contributes to the amount and the quality of translated fiction being published. This support is crucial for small, independent presses. Promoting change The Russian Ministry of Culture is actively involved in the promotion of Russian literature abroad. Its UK programme has led to an increasing number of new names gaining exposure in a growing variety of genres, from fantasy and science fiction to military fiction and historical mysteries. In 2011, Russia became a Focus Market of the London Book Fair (LBF), and modern Russian writers came to meet their British readers. At the same time, they made appearances at the PEN café, Waterstones Russian Bookshop and Pushkin House – major venues where lovers of Russian literature can find new titles in London. At the LBF 2014, Zakhar Prilepin, a former security guard and soldier in Chechnya, discussed the contemporary Russian novel with the author Eugeniy Vodolazki, who is known as Russia's Umberto Eco for his attempts to understand eternity through a portrayal of Russian medieval times. In contrast, Prilepin's works tackle unemployment and protest movements in Putin's Russia. It is important that modern Russian literature is represented in English translation, and remains as diverse and controversial as Russia itself. When it comes to Russian literature, we have found that English- speaking readers expect an unusual experience – something they may not wholly agree with or that causes them to reflect on things that matter, as seen through the prism of a different culture and socio-political reality. For example, the Kremlin – enigmatic and obscure – has always been an object of fascination in Britain, as the cornerstone of Moscow's Communist patriarchs and now the centre of Russian governance. A different perspective attracts, and this is a bonus when marketing Russian literature. Russia is opening up for the international audience, and more mainstream titles are being produced and accepted by readers outside the country. More publishers are paying attention to new Russian writers and exposing the literary value of Russian books as the only reliable, multifaceted source of information on Russia today. English-speaking readers expect an unusual experience: something they don't necessarily agree with • Critics have maintained that, to understand Russia, you need to read not Tolstoy but Zakhar Prilepin. The award- winning author reflects the 'real Russia' in his major works. • Sharing Prilepin's experiences in war-torn Chechnya and Kyrgyzstan, Sergei Shargunov examines Russia's recent history through his work, erasing the line between reality and fiction. • The history of the so-called 'Red aristocracy' and the formation of the Russian political elite are explored in two of Glagoslav's other recent titles: The Stone Bridge by Alexander Terekhov and Good Stalin by Victor Erofeyev. YANA'S 'MUST-READ' SELECTION

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