If you are a voracious reader of regional and global literature and love the idea of connecting readers with writers from around the world, then translation can be the bridge between your passion and profession.
We caught up with Vaishali Mathur, Publisher, Indian Languages Publishing, Penguin Random House India, to discuss the scope of translated works and the craft of translation as a career choice.
Edugraph: Is there a growing readership for translated works?
Vaishali Mathur (VM): Yes, there is a good readership for translations and it does keep growing. Globalisation has exposed us to thoughts from not just Indian thought leaders but also those from across the world. A fine example of this is the success of Michelle Obama’s Becoming.
There are some authors who also have a major universal appeal. Readers expect their books to be available in multiple languages. Our translated editions of Gandhi by Ramchandra Guha, Savarkar by Vikram Sampath, Jugalbandi by Vinay Sitapati, Death and Inner Engineering — two separate books — by Sadhguru and Life’s Amazing Secrets by Gaur Gopal Das have been constant bestsellers in different Indian and international languages.
In which language segment are you witnessing the maximum demand?
VM: I don’t think we can think of growth in such terms alone because there are certain genres that do well in certain languages. For instance, business books and business self-help work well in Marathi, whereas Telugu has a large readership for spiritual books. A lot of self-help, biographies, memoirs and mythology books are doing well in Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and Tamil.
What genres are you focusing on for translation work?
VM: We work in both fiction and non-fiction genres. In general, self-help, history, biographies, memoirs and mythology work well for us.
Is there a scarcity of good translators? Does the publishing industry need more people to join this line of work?
VM: I feel that more than numbers, we need trained translators who translate keeping in mind the tonality of the writing. We currently have more translators who are good in two languages and learn the rest of it while working on translations. As there is a growing demand, it’s important to see that there is some kind of organisation that can help translators understand the process.
We are very open to applications for translators. Our process involves understanding if there is any prior experience and then looking at sample translations to see whether it is a good match and works as per our standards. Most authors also look at samples before approval.- Vaishali Mathur
What do you look for when commissioning a translator?
VM: We are very particular that we understand the strengths of the translators who work with us. It’s to ensure that they capture the tonality of a book and the translation does not necessarily read like one.
Not every translator can do justice to every genre even if he or she might be good at that language. For this, we also have discussions with our translators so that they understand the background of the book they are working on. Professionalism and on-time delivery are also a must.
How can someone who’s interested in translation work start out?
VM: We are very open to applications for translators. Our process involves understanding if there is any prior experience and then looking at sample translations to see whether it is a good match and works as per our standards. Most authors also look at samples before approval.
Are there any internship opportunities available in publishing?
VM: Yes, we have internships round the year. Each lasts for about three months and at the end of it we give the intern a certificate to help them take their passion forward.
Those interested to intern with Penguin can send in their cover letters and resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org