28th-29th September, Riga was hosting a seminar for literary translators living abroad and interested in translating original Latvian fiction into Estonian, Lithuanian, Finnish, German, French, Italian and Czech languages.
During the seminar, translators had the opportunity to meet Latvian publishers and to hear presentations on topics concerning contemporary prose, the newest trends in children’s literature and grants for both translation and publishing. Translators also learned about the opportunities to reside in writers and translators’ residencies in Latvia and heard about ways of approaching foreign publishers individually.
Juta Pīrāga, representing the platform “Latvian Literature”, is the initiator of project and explains that organizing such seminars and specifically inviting translators is commonly practiced in Europe and it has become a tradition in Lithuania and Estonia too. “This is an approach our neighbours have been practicing for years. Through these seminars experienced translators can find out more about the topical questions in literature but the potential aspiring translators can get a motivational-and-literary boost for both translating and promoting Latvian literature in their local market.” “In the question of a book successfully reaching foreign markets, translators tend to have the decisive role,” Pīrāga adds, “because they often have to work as literary agents and besides searching for the publisher they also have to convincingly pitch the book and manage further correspondence. It is not an easy task, but there are several success stories of books that are now available for foreign readers – they reached the market thanks to the promotional work of our translators. After all, without the contribution of translators, would we even be talking about Latvian literature published abroad? A huge step forward is also the big number of books that will be available in English within the next couple of years. English can function as a relay language, thus creating a bridge to the languages we would not reach otherwise because we still lack translators in some language combinations.”
During their time here, translators were attending lectures by literary theoreticians Anda Baklāne and Viesturs Vecgrāvis; Andra Konste, the director of Ventspils International Writers and Translators’ House; Arno Jundze, the director of The Latvian Writers’ Union; literary agent Vilis Kasims, and Dace Bargā, a specialist in children’s literature. Their audience – experienced translators that are actively involved in the translation scene as well as soon-to-be translators that have only recently showed interest in pursuing their career towards Latvian literature. Some participants are residents of Latvia, but others travelled from their home countries.
The foreign translators’ seminar in Riga was organized as a part of the preparation for Latvia's participation in the London Book Fair 2018 in the UK. As previously announced, it is already next year when Latvia, together with Estonia and Lithuania, will be exhibiting as Market Focus, which brings unique opportunities to Latvian literature in English speaking countries