Although quite a number of important books by authors from Africa, Asia and particularly Latin America have been translated into German, they are very often seen as something exotic. The so-called Global South still has to fight the image of “underdevelopment”; literature from Africa, Asia and Latin America is not yet adequately represented on the German book market which is especially the case with South East Asia and the Arab region. Since we are convinced that literature is one of the most important means of cross-cultural learning and that books do provide a unique opportunity to learn about foreign cultures, it is imperative that efforts will be intensified to have books by authors from so-called developing and emerging countries translated into German.
Litprom was founded in Frankfurt in 1980 on the occasion of the Frankfurt Book Fair which then focused on creative writing from Africa. It is an association of professionals in the fields of publishing, journalism, literary studies and criticism and serves as a non-profit, non-commercial literary agency. Litprom is funded by financial means of the German government, the Protestant Church and other aid and development agencies, so it does not charge any commission for its services. Its Board of Directors consists of:
Litprom, registered as a non-profit association in Frankfurt, has set itself these objectives:
• to monitor literary trends and developments and select the best
examples of creative writing from Africa, Asia and Latin America for
translation into German, and to promote them in Germany, Switzerland and
Austria by encouraging contacts between authors and publishers from the
relevant regions and those in the German speaking region;
• to serve as an information center about literature from Africa, Asia and Latin America;
• to help establish and encourage a forum of debate about literature from the so-called Global South.
Litprom has been founded because we felt a strong need to actively promote literature from African, Asian and Latin American countries in the German speaking region. It is through these literatures that Eurocentric views, ignorance about conditions in Africa, Asia and Latin America, prejudices and stereotyped views can be overcome. It is through translations into German that German speaking readers can learn how authors from Africa, Asia and Latin America view their world and their cultures and thus learn that there are different, but equally relevant perspectives on the one world in which we live.
A Translation Programme
Since 1984 Litprom has been administering a special programme of grants for translations
of relevant books by African, Asian and Latin American authors into
German; this programme is funded by the German Foreign Office and the
Swiss cultural foundation SüdKulturFonds
and allows for subsidies of about 20 translations per year. Up to now
721 books (novels, short stories and poetry) have been supported.
We do this bearing in mind that generally the publication of a German
translation of a book by an author from Africa, Asia or Latin America is
only the first step and that special efforts have to be made for German
readers to realize that books from foreign countries ought to be
regarded simply as good fiction or good poetry.
Since its creation, Litprom has been instrumental in the publication of translations of several hundred books by authors from the Global South, books which without us may not have reached German readers. Among them were also books by authors who later won internationally acclaimed awards.
Four times a year, the members of the “Weltempfänger” jury compile a list of the seven finest book releases of the season. By publishing this list, Litprom raises the awareness for literature from Africa, Asia and Latin America. The “Weltempfänger” list is always highly appreciated by readers, media and experts alike.
LiBeraturpreis – Prize for female authors
In the struggle for recognition on the international book market, female writers from Africa, Asia and Latin America are highly underrepresented. Litprom addresses this problem by “awarding the LiBeraturpreis to a woman writer every year. The candidates are selected among the authors of last years “Weltempfänger” list, the voting is public.
Since 1985, Der Andere Literaturklub (the alternative club for literature) supplies its members with four especially selected books by authors from Africa, Asia and Latin America per year. These books are published in cooperation with those publishers who take a sustained interest in creative writing from the “South”. Members are also kept informed about literary developments in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In addition, the alternative club for literature supports local literary projects in the relevant regions.
In addition, Litprom is publishing Literaturnachrichten (Literary News) twice a year. It is a magazine with news, authors' portraits and analysis about literary and related events and developments with regard to Africa, Asia and Latin America. Being the only publication of its kind in Germany, LiteraturNachrichten has developed into a useful source for editors in publishing houses and media alike.
Our digital database Quellen (Sources) lists all relevant fiction titles translated into German since decades.
The Frankfurt Book Fair
Litprom also has a stand at the annual Frankfurt Book Fair, closely
cooperating with those publishers from relevant countries who come to
the Fair, some of them for the first time. It functions as a
meeting-point for authors and publishers from many countries around the
world. Apart from the own stand Litprom organizes the project Weltempfang,
which is a center for political, cultural and literary topics. During
the fair there are held readings and panel discussions with
international authors, intellectuals and translators.