So, yes, we’ve heard all the complaints against/issues with Amazon’s new publishing and philanthropic endeavors (some of which are more valid than others…) but I continue to find the internet mega-seller’s dedication to literature in translation a compelling point in its favor. Case in point: Iceland Review reported this weekend that four new Icelandic titles which had not been previously translated into English will be published by the new Amazon Crossing press within the next year or so.
One of the titles is a historical novel set in 15th Century Iceland by Vilborg Davídsdóttir, with a pretty sweet sounding premise: “a young mother and her illegitimate son are cast under the spell of the assistant to the Bishop of Hólar who knows more than the words of the Bible.”
The remaining three of these novels are crime titles by Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson, and were, admittedly, selected on the basis of sales potential:
“Amazon Crossing bases its selection of Ingólfsson and Davídsdóttir’s work to a large extent on reader reviews from different countries; they have especially been praised on the German Amazon site. Ingólfsson’s books have sold 150,000 copies in Germany.”
But (and I’m talking to you, genre snobs and lit elitists) I contend that it is a very good thing to introduce more American readers to popular writers of popular genres which are written in other languages from other countries. It’s all about expanding our limited literary horizons, and everyone needs a ‘gateway’ read. I came to Einar Már Guðmundsson by way of Arnaldur Indriðason myself, and both are authors I enjoy and respect. Let’s hope to see more Icelandic titles coming our way in the very near future.