Web Reviews: Promoting Multiculturalism Through Contemporary Literature

Reviews of Words Without Borders; The Quarterly Conversation; and UNESCO’s Clearing House for Literary Translation

Words Without Borders words without borders logo

Words Without Borders (WWB) is a magazine that promotes contemporary international literature through the translation and promotion of foreign literature, both poetry and prose, from all over the world. A different country featured each month. It also includes reviews of literary works and translations of contemporary foreign literature.

This website has something for everyone, from translators to educators to anyone interested in learning about other cultures. Librarians who are in charge of collection development in the area of foreign language and literature will find this website to be a useful resource for locating translations of contemporary literature in their respective subject areas.

Users will find easily accessible links to pages featuring book reviews, the current issue of the magazine, and resources for educators. Subscribers will receive the WWB newsletter and be able to post messages to the Dispatches page. Besides the most recent issues of the magazine and dispatches, users can also view previous issues in the Archives section. It is an excellent resource for those working in the areas of education and librarianship who also have an interest in bringing an awareness of other cultures to English-speaking natives.

The Quarterly Conversation

The Quarterly Conversation is an online journal that focuses on works of prose and poetry that, according to the website ...are of literary and/or cultural value, specifically, works in translation. It also features interviews with foreign authors, book reviews, and a blog. The links to other sections of the website are conveniently located at the top of the main page. It is also possible to search for publications by author, title, or subject. To look for information in past issues, the user can either search by using the Tag Archive or the Previous Issues link at the top of the main page.

This journal is highly praised and recognized by well-respected electronic and print publications such as The Huffington Post and The Nation magazine. The praise is well-deserved. I would recommend it to anyone interested in either acquiring materials in a number of subject areas or anyone who is looking for a book to read that has literary and/or cultural value.

UNESCO’s Clearing House for Literary Translation

UNESCO’s Clearing House for Literary Translation is a website that UNESCO describes as, …an initiative developed in the framework of the Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity, as well as a centre for information, guidance, and encounter for all those (translators, publishers, researchers, archivists, teachers) working on the discovery and promotion of still unknown literatures. Divided into two sections: Focus of the Year and News, it has a simple interface that is easy to read. It provides a wealth of information for those interested in studying, reading and promoting literature still unknown to the public at large.

The Focus of the Year section lists a variety of links to websites for translators, interpreters, scholars, and anyone else interested in literature not widely known or studied. There is a list of links to journal websites for translators. This section also provides links to such diverse things as: newsletters and journals profiling and promoting literature from countries in Latin America, Europe, and Asia, children’s book fairs, journals dedicated to different genres and formats of international literature, namely poetry and fairy tales and book reviews (e.g. New Books in German).

Under the News section is a list of links to information about conferences held around the world. The user may get the impression that these links are out of date but, actually, they are links to information about the most recent conferences (depending on the conference, some are held every three years and some every four years) and the organizations that sponsor these conferences.

Due to shrinking budgets and the focus of their collections, librarians may choose not to acquire materials in certain areas of literature. This website is useful then, in that it covers resources in those areas of literature. These resources may prove increasingly relevant due to the growing influence of various cultural groups. The number of translation journals included is extensive but there is a demand for these publications among those who study foreign languages. Although the majority of the listings are for translation journals, it is still a valuable resource for librarians because it includes a large amount of literature coming from underrepresented and rising parts of the world.

Reviewed by: Jeannine Berroteran. Jeannine is a research analyst, for The Berroteran Group, LLC, attended The Ohio State University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in French and Italian. She has also earned a master of Library Science degree from Indiana University.