Monday, March 14, 2005

We won't take Manhattan, already taken Berlin

According to YNet, Israeli authors are much more successful in Europe, and particularly in Germany, than in the US:
[Independent literary agent Deborah] Harris says authors such as David Grossman and Meir Shalev, who sell more than 100,000 copies in Israel and 20,000-30,000 copies of their works in Europe, rarely pass the 5,000-copy mark in the U.S....
Matthew Miller, owner of Toby Press in Jerusalem, says Germany is probably the single largest market for Israeli literature, along with Italy and France, but America is weak...
Harris says the European market is receptive to a wide array of Israeli writers, not only to the big names.
"Look at Zeruya Shalev, who is a major success in Germany; she's a sensation," she says. "Look at Etgar Keret and Batya Gur; both do very well in Germany."
Most of the article is about why Americans are less interested in Israeli literature -- suggestions include that statistically, they're not particularly interested in any foreign literature, are perhaps more insular, and already have a strong tradition of Jewish literature of their own. Fair enough. The only real explanation offered as to why Europeans buy Israeli lit., however, is that they have more 'sophisticated' literary tastes, and the top Israeli writers are quite highbrow. It doesn't seem to fully explain, however, why a continent which is supposed to be so hostile to things Israeli enjoys their books so much. Anyone?

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