Jacket Copy

Books, authors and all things bookish

« Previous Post | Jacket Copy Home | Next Post »

Nobel Prize winner Tomas Transtromer, in translation

October 7, 2011 | 10:49 am

Tomas Tranströmer at a news conference after winning the Nobel Prize in literature
Poet Tomas Tranströmer is well known in Sweden, but here in the U.S. he hasn't become the household name of, say, your average Kardashian. Winning the Nobel Prize in literature may change that -- well, a little, anyway -- and his American publishers are happy to get his books into searching hands.

"Everything that is published in Swedish is in our book," Jeffrey Yang, editor of Tranströmer's "The Great Enigma: New and Collected Poems" from New Directions told The Times. "It was already in a third printing -- now we’ll probably do a quick turnaround short run, and a bigger run." Yang estimates that because of the award, New Directions will print an additional 5,000 to 10,000 copies.

That's what small independent publisher Green Integer Press, based in Los Angeles, plans to do as well -- print 5,000 more copies. It has a bilingual edition of Tranströmer's "The Sorrow Gondola" in print, with the poems appearing side by side in Swedish and English. "I kind of thought it should be a poet," publisher Douglas Messerli told The Times, speaking of the Nobel Prize. "It's been so long since a poet has been selected."

On Friday, Ecco announced that it would reissue its two Tranströmer books, "For The Living and the Dead: A Memoir and Poems," (1995) and "Selected Poems" (1998). Back in 1987, before Ecco became part of HarperCollins, it published its first translation of Tranströmer.

But New Directions lays claim to the first publication of Tranströmer in English. That was in its annual, "New Directions in Poetry and Prose" (No. 19), in 1966.


Critic's Notebook: Tomas Tranströmer's spare, elegant genius

Tomas Tranströmer wins Nobel Prize in literature

Handicapping the Nobel Prize in literature: a guide

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Tomas Tranströmer at a news conference Thursday after winning the Nobel Prize in literature Credit: Frederick Sandberg / EPA