Bestselling authors call on publishers to name #TranslatorsOnTheCover

30 September 2021

‘Name the translator in the same breath as you name the author’ say authors, including Bernardine Evaristo, Sarah Waters, Preti Taneja, Katie Kitamura, Simon Schama, Max Porter, Tracy Chevalier and more.

Illustration © PureSolution / AdobeStock

On International Translation Day 2021 we launch #TranslatorsOnTheCover, calling on every writer to ask their publishers for cover credits for the people who translate their work.

Signatories to an open letter written by Jennifer Croft (translator of Olga Tokarczuk’s International Booker Prize-winning Flights) and Mark Haddon (author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) – commit to asking that ‘whenever our work is translated… the name of the translator appears on the front cover’.

The letter acknowledges that it is ‘thanks to translators that we have access to world literatures past and present’ and goes on to say that translators should be ‘properly recognised, celebrated and rewarded’.

At time of launch, the letter has been signed by over 100 authors, including Jennifer Acker, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Esther Allen, Chloe Aridjis, Laura van den Berg, Carmen Boullosa, Jamel Brinkley, Geoffrey Brock, Alice-Catherine Carls, Christopher Chan, Tracy Chevalier, Jennifer Croft, J. Madison Davis, Ming Di, Arthur Dixon, Teresa Dovalpage, Will Eaves, Lauren Elkin, Bernardine Evaristo, Kali Fajardo-Anstine, Sebastian Faulks, Patrick Flanery, Carolyn Forché, Bruce Forester, Forrest Gander, Salena Godden, Niven Govinden, Marni Graff, Jorie Graham, Jessie Greengrass, Lauren Groff, Jennifer Grotz, Guy Gunaratne, Mark Haddon, Louisa Hall, Katherine Hall Page, Joanne Harris, Katherine Hennessey, George Henson, Christina Hoag, Elliott Holt, Anton Hur, Bryan Hurt, Joe Ide, Toni Jensen, Daisy Johnson, Ilya Kaminsky, John Keene, Diana Khoi Nguyen, Katie Kitamura, Alexandra Kleeman, Chris Kraus, R.O. Kwon, Carlos Labbé, Jhumpa Lahiri, Jonathan Lee, Valeria Luiselli, Karan Mahajan, Rebecca Makkai, James McCrone, Charlotte Mendelson, Maaza Mengiste, Robin Myers, Idra Novey, Howard Owen, Joan Naviyuk Kane, Sigrid Nunez, Julianne Pachico, J.R. Patterson, Sarah Perry, Gary Phillips, Frances de Pontes  Peebles, Max Porter, Philip Pullman, Sam Reaves, Meg Rosoff, Lisa Sandlin, Ayşegül Savaş, Simon Schama, Douglas Schofield, Carina del Valle Schorske, Daniel Simon, Igor Stiks, Pitchaya Sudbanthad, Olivia Sudjic, Molly Swanton, Preti Taneja, Jordan Tannahill, Jeet Thayil, Jeremy Tiang, Anderson Tepper, Olga Tokarczuk, Monique Truong, Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, Paul Vidich, Padma Viswanathan, Sarah Waters, James Weikert, Frances Wilson, Evie Wyld, Paul Yoon, Ping Zhu

Commenting on the campaign, Mark Haddon said, ‘This is the simplest and easiest way for authors to treat translators with the gratitude and respect they deserve.’

Jennifer Croft said, ‘This is an essential change that takes almost no time to make and costs publishers nothing. Literature’s future must be honest, equal, and just.’

Max Porter said, ‘Let’s do it. All of us… Name the translator in the same breath as you name the author.’

Sarah Waters said, ‘Literature is a powerful crosser of borders, and it's the labour and creativity of translators that allows that passage to happen. This simple initiative recognises and celebrates translators' talents in a way that feels long overdue.’

Read the full text of the letter below.

For too long, we’ve taken translators for granted. It is thanks to translators that we have access to world literatures past and present. It is thanks to translators that we are not merely isolated islands of readers and writers talking amongst ourselves, hearing only ourselves.

Translators are the life-blood of both the literary world and the book trade which sustains it. They should be properly recognised, celebrated and rewarded for this. The first step towards doing this seems an obvious one.

From now on we will be asking, in our contracts and communications, that our publishers ensure, whenever our work is translated, that the name of the translator appears on the front cover.