Wednesday, October 16, 2002

One statistic which was paraded through the blogger world was that the Arab world only translates about 300 books anually, one 5th the number that Greece does.

Of course, a more interesting comparison would be, say, the number of books translated into English in the U.S. A letter writer to the newest Harper's notes that this number is also about 300,and only 10 Arab language works in the past 4 years.

Who is parochial?

UPDATE: Some people have questioned the numbers. One source says 297 works of fiction and poetry were translated for the U.S. market in one year, leaving open the possibility of other genres of course. Fair enough. Another person says many more are translated into english worldwide - well, we're talking about the U.S. here. While books published elsewhere are available through, say, mail order -- they aren't distributed here. And, the U.S. and the 'Arab World' have roughly the same population. Besides, one should control for the purchasing power of the book buying population as well.

IN any case, the broader point is - not too many books are translated for the U.S. market either - what should we conclude from that?

Another UPDATE: Other bloggers desperate to pick a fight think I'm praising the Arab world. Actually, I don't know squat about the Arab world and don't claim to. I'm just talking about how THIS ONE STATISTIC was thrown about the Blogosphere in an orgy of condemnation a couple of months ago as proof of the closed backward nature of the Arab world by a bunch of other people who don't know squat about the Arab world.