Disentangling the Economies: A Book Studies Perspective on German Literature in Translation in the US Market

Corinna Norrick-Rühl


This contribution deploys approaches from book studies (Buchwissenschaft), in particular source work with material from Publishers Weekly, to analyze transatlantic literary gatekeeping in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The focus is on German literature in translation in the US market. The US market is known to be hostile to translations, exhibiting what is often called the ‘three percent problem.’ Three brief case studies sketch the dynamics of curation which influence transatlantic flows of translation. Beginning with a discussion of the publication history of Do¨rte Hansen’s novel Altes Land, the New York-based German Book Office and the German Book Prize (Deutscher Buchpreis) are considered as gatekeeping institutions. Different types of economies are introduced which play out in transatlantic literary flows: the economies of prestige, scale, favors, and (media) attention. In closing, the contribution emphasizes the potential of book studies approaches for transatlantic literary studies. (CN-R)

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