- Three Percent has become, since Chad Post started it just a couple years ago, the central source of news and information on translation and translation publishing in the U.S. Although Chad is the director of Open Letter, a press based at the University of Rochester, Three Percent covers news about publishing worldwide, reviews (by many different contributors) of new releases from presses large and small, and profiles of translators and others across the profession. An upcoming addition will be a podcast; it looks like I'll be involved with that myself. Chad also maintains a database of new translations published in the U.S. each year and last year began the Best Translated Book Awards, selected by a panel of publishers, critics, booksellers, and translators. The blog post where Chad announced the 2010 BTBA fiction longlist is a great example of how straightforward Three Percent is: not stuffy or esoteric at all.
- the Literary Saloon (at the site The Complete Review) is, astoundingly, a one-man effort. Michael Orthofer reads seemingly every English-language book review and website from around the world—as well as some in other languages—to collect literary and publishing news. Although there's a lot about U.S. publishing which has some overlap with Three Percent (and Chad and Michael sometimes link to each other's posts), the Literary Saloon covers a much broader geography, and often includes news about hot books in other countries that haven't been translated yet. Michael also writes all the reviews on the main Complete Review site, summarizing and linking to others available on the web—and we're talking thee, four, five or more books every week. He recently pointed out the Times Literary Supplement's translation prizes, completely separate from the BTBAs: just the kind of worldwide recognition for translation that makes this business feel a little less lonely.
- Conversational Reading is the blog of Scott Esposito, and since its launch about six years ago it has spawned a more formal web-based literary review, Quarterly Conversation, with a wide range of stellar writers contributing reviews, essays, interviews, and occasional excerpts from works under discussion. In addition to news and commentary, Conversational Reading provides a guide through each new issue of Quarterly Conversation and hosts the discussions and debates that sometimes ensue. Neither the blog nor the review is strictly limited to works in translation, though that tends to be their major focus. Scott's posts usually offer a critical response, rather than just information; since it's a blog, you can see him thinking out loud, as when he turns an idea from José Manuel Prieto's novel Rex into a broad descriptive schema for kinds of writers.
- Publishing Perspectives is a newsletter focusing on the international publishing world. The website/blog form features just one main post, written as a fairly formal journalistic feature, covering a regular rotation of topics. Guest columnists are common, though editor Edward Nawotka writes many of the features. What makes this essential reading is its business perspective, covering not just the big U.S. and multinational corporations which print the majority of the books on the planet but all those companies that publish the original-language editions of the books that (sometimes) get translated and published here. This is the industry context for where translation actually happens (though there are people who see translation as an essentially academic activity), and there's no better example of why it's important to read Publishing Perspectives than yesterday's feature by Emily Williams on "The Translation Gap: Why More Foreign Writers Aren't Published in America." (Note that she's talking about the big New York publishing model, not the small presses where a lot of the action is.)
- Words Without Borders is a web-based magazine which publishes not (primarily) news or reviews or commentary, but actual translated fiction, poetry, and essays from around the world. Each monthly issue has a theme—a region, an issue, a type of writing—and features about a dozen pieces, some quite long, selected by the staff along with guest editors and expert translators. A recent redesign of the site has given more prominence to book reviews and introduced a new section "For Educators": both will be worth watching. But for now, the main reason to read WWB each month is for its unparalleled sampling of current writing around the world. Pene Cabreira's story "The Platform," from this month's issue on flash fiction, is a great example not only of what WWB does, but why we need translation in the first place: it's a universal story that just happened to be written in Portuguese, not English.
I'll add more to the list in the future, maybe with sub-categories—for blogs and sites covering cognition, puzzles, foreign-language sites, and fun stuff like that. As soon as I find more hours in the day, that is, or more days in the week.