During a recent presentation at FLIP 2011, the International Literary Festival in Paraty, which happened on July 6-10 this year, Ana de Hollanda, the new Brazilian Minister of Culture, presented a program that will support the translation of Brazilian literary works abroad. The plan is ambitious and involves making US$ 7.6 million available to start translating great works of Brazilian literature into English and Spanish, in 10 years.
If her last name sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Brazilian Minister of Culture Ana de Hollanda is singer Chico Buarque de Holanda’s sister and has also debuted as a singer and composer. The Minister’s attendance at FLIP seems to reveal, at the very least, a concern with the realities of Brazilian literature.
In fact, FLIP has become a trendy annual literary festival, which turns 8 this year and happens in Paraty, 125 miles from Rio de Janeiro. Considered nowadays as one of the largest and most important literary festival in the world, FLIP has shown strong, solid numbers: only in 2011 alone, there were 58,790 unique web site visits since July 1st, 129 guests (out of which 29 were foreign), 135 events, a 40-thousand person audience, 62.500 streamings of live transmissions, 2,000 followers on Twitter, 3,000 “likes” e 50,000 impressions per day on the Facebook page during the festival, which resulted in R$ 6.8 million reals in revenue. But FLIP is not only numbers: in the past it has attracted writers from the caliber of Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, and Nadine Gordimer, to mention but a few.
In order for one to have an idea of Brazilian literature already translated, Paula Góes, a Brazilian journalist based in London, and a blogger at talqualmente, compiled a list revealing into-English translations of almost 40 great writers of Brazilian literature. The list has something for everybody, ranging from more classic and universal writers, such as Machado de Assis and Jorge Amado, to more contemporary and controversial ones, such as Paulo Coelho and Jô Soares.
A big stumbling block for Brazilian literature to finally land on the United States seems to be the lack of interest in publishing foreign texts in translation by American publishing houses – according to Christian Science Monitor, only about 3% of books published in the United States are into-English translations of foreign literature.
What we can hope for, then, is that some of Brazil’s new renowned economic and commercial fame will also translate into the American public’s cultural interest in the rich and vast Brazilian literature.