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Foreign Ministry donates almost 300 works by Argentine authors translated into various languages to the National Library

Wednesday, 12 June 2019
Information for the Press N°: 

This afternoon, during an event held at the National Library (BN), Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie formally delivered to the institution almost 300 works by Argentine authors in various languages, which are part of the Sur Translation Support Programme.  

The donation marks the beginning of an exchange between the National Library and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship that will allow a copy of any book by an Argentine author translated under the SUR Programme to be given to the National Library. The event for the signature of the framework agreement was attended by Faurie, the Argentine Secretary of Culture, Pablo Avelluto and the Director of the National Library, Elsa Barber.

The Foreign Minister underscored that "today's donation increases the literary heritage of Argentina's main bibliographical centre, and it is a tool to disseminate our imagination, ideas and values. The Sur Programme is a permanent policy of the Argentine Foreign Ministry. As a Government, we are really proud to make our authors known around the world."

"During the last 3 years and for the first time, works by Borges were translated into Malay, the Martín Fierro was translated into Bengali; works by Cortázar were published in Denmark, Greece and Serbia, in their languages, and Mafalda was published in Armenian and Guarani. I would like you to recall the pleasure you felt when you read your favourite work by an Argentine author for the first time: that moment is unique and unforgettable. We have made part of the world experience this and discover our literature in their language and in their own way," he added.

Faurie concluded: "One of the most fascinating fragments of Argentine literary history, La biblioteca de Babel, by Borges, immerses us in the endless possibilities of universal literature and offers a glimpse of the magnitude of a semi-divine library containing all possible books. I think that the Sur Translation Support Programme would be a great contribution to the library of Babel."

In turn, Avelluto underscored that "the Sur Programme is a policy all Argentines who care about the dissemination of our culture can take pride in. Thanks to the efforts by the Argentine Foreign Ministry, our authors are translated into other languages, published in various countries, publicized and, most importantly, read, thus opening new markets and new opportunities for our writers. We welcome, support and will continue encouraging this as one of the greatest accomplishments of Argentina's public cultural policy."

Elsa Barber noted that "it is a pleasure to receive the donation of the works under the Sur Programme. The conservation of the works by Argentine authors translated into other languages is one of the objectives of the Mariano Moreno National Library. We will work to ensure continuity of these tasks together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship.

The purpose of the Sur Programme, created in 2009 and coordinated by the National Directorate for Cultural Affairs of the Foreign Ministry, is to foster the translation of Argentine literature abroad and to fund the publication of works by Argentine authors in any language other than Spanish, thus promoting Argentine culture around the world. It is the largest programme of its kind among Spanish-speaking nations and has funded the publication of over 1,360 works by over 400 Argentine authors translated into 47 languages, distributed in 50 different countries since its creation.

Some of the authors that foreign publishers request the most are Julio Cortázar, Jorge Luis Borges and Ricardo Piglia, as well as other famous authors like Roberto Arlt, Juan José Saer, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Leopoldo Lugones, Rodolfo Walsh, Ricardo Güiraldes and José Hernández.

The Foreign Ministry delivered to the National Library a total of 283 works translated into various languages which have been distributed in countries all around the world, such as Albany, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Egypt, Israel, Croatia, Ethiopia and South Korea, among others. The donation includes works by contemporary authors such as Claudia Piñeiro, César Aira, Diana Bellessi, Carlos Gamerro, Martín Kohan, Alan Pauls, Ana María Shua and Eduardo Sacheri. Comic books by Quino and Liniers are included as well. 

The event was also attended by ambassador Sergio Baur, the Director for Cultural Affairs of the Argentine Foreign Ministry; Diego Lorenzo, who is responsible for managing the Sur Programme; and Andrés Boiero, the head of the Department for the Development of the BN Collection.

    Information and Achievements of the Sur Programme

The Sur Programme seeks to cover all literary genres that make up Argentine literature, not only novels, stories and poetry, but also essays, theatre, stories for children and young adults, literature reviews and comic books, among others. 

In terms of linguistic markets, the most requested languages are Italian, German, French, English, Portuguese and Bulgarian, although there are translations into Greek, Russian, Croatian, Vietnamese and Mandarin Chinese as well. Requests for translations into Swedish, Macedonian and Polish have increased in the last year.

In 2009, through the Sur Programme, Argentina became part of a reduced group of countries with ongoing programmes to promote their literary and intellectual production at an international level. It is the largest programme among Spanish-speaking nations.

It has consolidated the "export of rights" over Argentine works as a trade strategy in an international context that is becoming more competitive and globalized. It enhances the offer of Argentine literature abroad and allows for a better integration of the Argentine publishing sector in the economy of cultural industries. From the economic point of view, cultural industries are a source of wealth, and they contribute to economic development and job creation. In Argentina, they account for more than 3% of  GDP.

The increasing internationalization in the publishing world calls for investment and is a valuable cultural policy for the Argentine publishing sector: in 2005, Spanish once again became one of the ten most important languages in terms of the sale of licences and rights to other countries. Thus, Argentina is transitioning from a passive position into a more active and competitive one as regards international trade of its cultural industry.

In 2018, 22 new Argentine authors were included in the group of 380 authors which have already been part of the Sur Programme. There has been a significant increase in playwrights, such as Eduardo Pavlovsky, Claudio Tolcachir, Héctor Levy-Daniel and Lola Arias, among others. Another interesting detail is the fact that a Chinese publishing company has requested a translation of Relatos reunidos by César Aira into Mandarin Chinese, with a print run of 12 thousand copies.  Samanta Schweblin and César Aira are the two fiction writers whose work has been translated into that language under the Programme.

The participation of female writers has increased: 51 works of a total of 39 female writers have been requested.  A portion of those requests was made possible thanks to the invitation extended to Argentine female writers (Ariana Harwicz and Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, for example) by the Argentine Foreign Ministry to participate in the Frankfurt Book Fair.


Press Release No. 236/19