Saturday, 13 April 2013

Michael Krüger on Translations in the USA

Michael Krüger is the publisher at Hanser Verlag, probably one of Germany's most serious publishing houses. He's about to retire (at 70) and he's one of those people men I see as representing a bygone age in the book world. That has its pros and cons, I'll admit. I get a sense that he and his generation took literature very seriously indeed and were loathe to publish anything they might have considered trashy. Profit was not the only thing they had in mind. At the same time, publishing was more of a closed shop and not terribly open to women. I remember Krüger's protests that Elisabeth Ruge couldn't possibly take over from him - because she has children.

Krüger occasionally sits down at his desk and talks to a camera. The resulting video is available on Hanser's new-fangled youtube channel. I rarely watch these talking-head videos of his because I feel uncomfortable about the apparently authoritative nature of his pronouncements. It's like this, he tells us, and I'm the man who's telling you it. Again, I think this is a common phenomenon among men of his generation, let's say. But anyway, this time he talks about the woeful lack of translations in the USA and how all German writers want to get their books translated into English but nobody wants to publish them. In case you like that kind of thing. It's interesting as an insight into how a German publisher sees the American publishing world, although you might not feel terribly cheerful after watching it.

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