How precarious are the working conditions of literary translators? A sociology of translation perspective from Türkiye

Kılınçarslan B. K., Demirel E. B.

Paralleles, vol.35, no.2, pp.9-24, 2023 (Scopus) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 35 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.17462/para.2023.02.05
  • Journal Name: Paralleles
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Page Numbers: pp.9-24
  • Keywords: job satisfaction, literary translators, precarious working conditions, sociology of translation, thematic analysis
  • Yıldız Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Studies on the working conditions of literary translators to date reveal that literary translators frequently complain about their working conditions. The present article investigates how Turkish literary translators are affected by precarious working conditions, based on interviews with agents from the publishing industry, including literary translators, editors, and publishers. The research involved semi-structured interviews with 28 participants. The results show that literary translators face five types of precarity: a lack of legal control mechanisms, job insecurity, lack of social security, uncertainty about the future, and income insecurity. However, literary translators’ desire to translate literary works broadly takes precedence over their intention to leave the profession. Most of the participants offered solutions to these problematic working conditions, such as solidarity, bargaining, royalties, doing side jobs or translating as a hobby. The study suggests a new avenue for future research to analyse literary translation as a form of labour and encourages sustainable solutions for literary translators in Türkiye and around the world.