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The internationalization of the Colombian narrative through the export of rights

The internationalization of the Colombian narrative through the export of rights

Martín Gómez, the publishing consultant, sends us his report on Latin American literature, this time focusing on literary agencies with the export of rights of Colombian narrative authors.


The data collected in the framework of the project «The internationalization of Colombian narrative through the export of rights» reveal that since the early 2000s the work of a growing number of Colombian narrative authors has been attracting more and more Colombian narrative authors have been attracting the attention and interest of an increasing number of publishing houses operating in different geographic and linguistic markets since the early 2000s.

Currently, interest in the work of Colombian narrative authors is well established in Spain, the United States, France, Italy, Mexico, Germany, Chile, and Brazil, is strengthening in Turkey, Argentina, the United Kingdom, Poland, the Netherlands, and Portugal, and shows great potential for growth in Korea, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Canada, Peru, and Romania.

There are three possible complementary routes to the internationalization of narrative written by Colombian authors: firstly, the Spanish-American route, comprising the 19 Spanish-speaking countries of the Americas and the Spanish-language segment of the U.S. publishing industry; secondly, the Spanish route; and finally, the non-Hispanic route, comprising non-Spanish-speaking countries through translation.

The most published and translated Colombian narrative authors outside Colombia

Gabriel García Márquez, Juan Gabriel Vásquez, Melba Escobar, Santiago Gamboa, Emma Reyes, Laura Restrepo, Héctor Abad Faciolince, Pilar Quintana, Evelio Rosero and Jorge Franco are the ten Colombian narrative authors whose work has been published by the largest number of publishers in different countries.

All these authors are currently represented by a literary agency that manages the rights to their work.

Particularly noteworthy is the enormous international projection recently acquired by Emma Reyes, Melba Escobar, and Pilar Quintana thanks to the fact that in less than five years one work by each of them has been translated into more than a dozen languages and published in about 20 countries: Memoria por correspondencia, La casa de la Belleza and La perra, respectively.

This phenomenon shows the central role that literary agencies play in the internationalization of authors and their work.

The Latin American route in the internationalization of the Colombian narrative

The work of Colombian narrative authors is increasingly internationalized through publishing houses established in different Latin American countries such as Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and Peru – mainly local subsidiaries of large groups and independent publishers.

In some Latin American countries, a small network of independent publishers has been consolidating, and their contribution to the internationalization of the work of the region’s narrative authors is becoming increasingly important.

Thanks to the intervention of these independent publishing houses that publish works by Latin American narrative authors from countries other than their own, they can cross borders in a way that allows them to circumvent the many obstacles that hinder the free circulation of books in Latin America.

Literary agencies and internationalization

Today, the work of narrative authors who work with a literary agency has a much higher probability of becoming internationalized and circulating widely, crossing geographical, linguistic, and cultural borders.

Narrative authors and their work have the potential to internationalize without the use of a literary agency, but achieving this goal through this route can often be very difficult, take much longer, and have a considerably limited reach.

Currently, about 65 Colombian narrative authors are represented by a literary agency.

Check out the full report!

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