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26 July 2010

'Any bookseller who might be considering whether to order more copies of Brodeck's Report by Philippe Claudel, which last week (in May) took the Independent Foreign Fiction prize, should look at this week's charts. Astonishingly, translations currently account for 40 per cent of Britain's top-ten bestsellers. OK: Stieg Larsson's 'Millennium' trilogy occupies three slots, with the fourth taken by Carlos Ruiz Zafón's The Angel's Game. Mass-audience crowd-pleasers all - yet, not so long ago, conventional wisdom held that foreign authors stood an even slimmer chance of cracking the popular-fiction market here than they did with the literary niches. Whatever the books involved, this tally represents a singular event - and, who knows, even a precedent for a country with a half-Dutch, quarter-Russian, quarter-English Deputy PM? Against gloom-mongers at home and abroad who always cite the "3 per cent" figure for translations in the UK, we can now claim "40 per cent of the Top Ten" - even if it's only for one freak week in May.'

Boyd Tonkin, Literary Editor of the Independent