Tuesday, September 04, 2012
Literature in Any Language: GrantaTakes That Literally
Jonathan Worth for The New York Times
When the first issue of its new Chinese-language edition appears next month, the London-based literary journal Granta, a publication that has existed in English since the Victorian era, will have a presence in four of the five most widely spoken languages. But plans for the globalization of a leading quarterly that proudly calls itself “the magazine of new writing” don’t stop there.
“In five years I could see us with 15 or 17 foreign editions,” John Freeman, the editor of Granta, said in an interview in New York this summer. “Rather than beat our heads against the wall trying to find the one creative writing student at a university who will subscribe, I want to find the people who really want and really need the magazine, wherever they are, and that means looking at the world.”
Besides English and now Chinese, Granta is also published in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Bulgarian, Swedish and Norwegian. The foreign-language editions not only feature translated versions of articles that originally appeared in the English-language Granta, but many of the editions also commission original work by local writers, some of which has in recent years made its way into the parent magazine. (Arabic is the only language in the top five that doesn’t have its own edition.)
Regardless of the language in which Granta is published, each issue is organized around a single theme, usually a place (Britain, Chicago, Russia, Australia) or a subject (work, sex, medicine, fathers). But the chosen subject is addressed through various fiction and nonfiction genres, supplied by writers both celebrated and unknown, who also make up a significant part of the magazine’s readership.
“Early in my career being in Granta not only made me feel like I was riding on the coattails of some really important writers and being welcomed into the family, but stepped up my reputation and gave me some name recognition,” said the novelist Richard Russo, whose latest book, a memoir called “Elsewhere,” grew out of a recent essay he wrote for Granta. “The world of arts and literature is changing before our eyes, but Granta continues to be extraordinarily eclectic and a great magazine. They do a lot of different things there, and do them all well.”