Tuesday, September 06, 2011
There are few things more exciting than to receive an email or letter from an individual who is so energized by our books that they want to translate one into their language. Over the past several weeks, we’ve been approached by people who want to translate and publish World on the Edge in Croatian, Czech, Greek, Malayalam, and Marathi.
One can never tell what that kind of enthusiasm will generate, but looking at one of our longtime publishing arrangements might provide a clue.
In 1990, Hamid Taravati, a medical doctor in Iran came across a copy of State of the World 1989 in a bookshop in Tehran, in which Lester Brown had a chapter. Hamid had found practicing medicine alone to be unsatisfying, especially when compared with the problems his country was facing. He wanted to do something to help solve them. Thus he decided to start translating books that might provide help. He had translated two before he came across State of the World. He found the analysis and issues so impressive that he started translating it the same day. From that day on he and his wife Farzaneh Bahar, also a doctor, have devoted their lives to increasing environmental literacy in Iran, mostly through translating Lester’s books.
Hamid and Farzaneh have translated and published all of EPI’s books, all of which generate great interest. For example, Eco-Economy was selected for an award by the Peka Institute (formed by several leading Iranian publishers) as the best nonfiction book published in Iran in 2003. The four reasons given for selecting Eco-Economy were its clear and concise presentation of the global environmental problems facing humanity and solutions for them, the credibility and global influence of the author, the excellence of the translation, and the noteworthy efforts of Hamid in increasing environmental literacy in Iran.
In addition, the Iranian Ministry of Environment distributed copies of Eco-Economy to the 1,000 representatives of Iran’s environmental NGOs. The Minister called it a “monumental work.”
The Deputy Minister of Natural Resources distributed 500 copies of Outgrowing the Earth throughout the Ministry and to NGOs. An engineering company purchased 600 copies and distributed it to its clients, and a well-respected physician purchased 100 copies for dissemination.
Hamid and Farzaneh eventually created an environmental NGO which works more on the local level offering workshops to promote various Plan B goals and environmental literacy in general. They also have a website devoted to the work of the NGO and the books. It also has a special section that contains translations of our Plan B Updates. Hamid also regularly publishes excerpts from the books and Updates in Iran’s leading newspapers and magazines.
Hamid regularly tells us about professors, policymakers, and others who have purchased dozens of copies of the books and how excited they are about the information. The irony in this situation is clear: the United States and Iran do not have diplomatic relations, but the relationship between us at EPI and Hamid and Farzaneh could not be closer. As a result of their work, we are now one of the principal sources of information on global environmental issues in Iran.
Reah Janise Kauffman
P.S. Click here for our list of translations.
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