Michael Wex, a Canadian novelist and translator, who specializes in language, literature and Yiddish in particular, has come up with a new project to translate a 1921 Yiddish classic called “In Poylishe Velder” or “In the Forest of Poland” by Joseph Opatoshu” into English. Wex intends the project to be crowd-sourced and he is currently raising money to fund the translation of the book which he will later release under a Creative Commons License online, for free, for anyone to download.
About the Project
Michael Wex is aiming for $75,000 which will be used to cover the entire translation process, and it will also be his family’s source of income during the year it will take him to translate the book since this translation project will be his sole focus. That money will also be used to pay for publicity, website costs, and other administration fees. The author guarantees he will dedicate his entire time to translating the book and states this is all the money he will ever make of it, given the book will then be published for free, online by May 2014 in PDF or e-book form. The entire project has already been approved by Joseph Opatoshu’s grandson, given that his work is still under copyright laws.
The Indiegogo campaign offers the possibility to donate anything from $1 to $10,000, with different rewards for those who are willing to participate. Anyone who donates has the chance to appear in the donors’ list and one can choose to contribute anonymously or even in memory of someone else. In the case the target is exceeded, the surplus money would be used to cover for the translation of this book’s sequel. If the target is not reached, all the money will be given back to the contributors.
In the Forest of Poland and its Author
“In the Forest of Poland” is about a Jewish family who is living among gentile people instead of living in a Jewish community. The work’s perspective is said to be able to change people’s view of what Jewish life in Poland is like. The ultimate aim of this book’s translation is to make the Jewish culture and history more accessible to the world, both Jewish and non-Jewish.
Trying to emphasize Joseph Opatoshu’s importance, Michael Wex compares him and his work to Hemingway and his influence over American fiction. Opatoshu is considered the most important Yiddish novelist of his time. His work, though, was never properly translated into English, and his legacy remains mostly inaccessible to the majority of the world’s population.