Favorite Authors or Favorite Translators?

Overheard on the Volume 1 Brooklyn website (with thanks to Edna McCown for the heads-up): What does your literary tote bag say about you? Here’s a mildly snarky analysis by Jason Diamond and Tobias Carroll. If you carry a Strand Bookstore tote, what does it mean? “You probably don’t really live in New York. Either that or you’re a freshman at NYU.” That classy orange and black Penguin bag? “You had a really enjoyable time flirting with the idea of working in the publishing industry. This tote bag is all you have to remember those times by.” But what about the PEN American Center carryall with its iconic fountain pen logo? “You don’t have favorite authors, you have favorite translators.” Thank you, snarky Brooklyn boys, for putting your finger, perhaps inadvertently, on the very point I keep making about PEN and its projects: If you love international literature, you are loving the work of literary translators, and it is impossible to separate out the two. PEN’s single largest membership group is comprised of literary translators, and without their work, nothing PEN does would be possible. Thank you, Brooklyn, for the eloquence with which you drive this point home. Oh, and while you’re at it, please join!

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