Good News from Korea Literature Translation Institute . . .
Q: It's been said that you would use the word "subversive" for a one-word description for the kinds of books Dalkey publishes. What's the reason behind this and under what criteria did you select your choices for the upcoming series? What would you say to those who think such "unconventional" works' translations would be harder to market?Subversive. Hmmm . . . have Sun-Ae and I translated anything subversive? Well, there is Jang Jung-il, but he might be too subversive, maybe even subversive. And he might belong to a different era already.
A: Years and years ago I was asked in an interview to find one word to describe the books that Dalkey publishes, and the closest I could come to a one-word description was "subversive." What I intended by "subversive" is that a reader is presented with something unpredictable in terms of character, style, and structure. The books that we publish usually make demands on the reader, but demands that I think good readers want from fiction. But yes, these kinds of books, whether translations or books originally written in English, are indeed harder to market, and this is due to the harsh reality that literature in general is harder to market in the United States, partially as a result of the ever-shrinking book-review space in newspapers and magazines. So, this is a challenge for us, and has always been a challenge. Readers look to Dalkey Archive books in order to find fiction that's different and satisfies particular aesthetic needs. The books that we selected for this series are ones that we believe at in keeping with the other books on our list, and it is a very impressive list of major authors from this century and the past one.
If you want to learn more about Mr. O'Brian, his literary tastes, and his vision for Dalkey Archive Press, the Los Angeles Times has a same-day, two-part interview in its "Jacket Copy: Books, authors and all things bookish": "John O'Brien of Dalkey Archive Press, Part 1" (July 16, 2009) and "John O'Brien of Dalkey Archive, part 2" (July 16, 2009)