The Chinese immigrants in Flushing, Queens, devour books with titles like “Romantic Flower” and “The Heart With a Million Knots.” The Russian women in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, clamor for a diet guide advocating plenty of meat. In Greenpoint, Brooklyn, a bookseller cannot keep a tell-all by the wife of an adored Polish politician on the shelves.
Serialized romance digests are popular in Jackson Heights, Queens, in languages spoken by the area’s Indians and Pakistanis. So, too, are books on Muslim topics. Khursheed Hassan, the owner of Mansoor Book Store, has arranged the two inventories so the religious books are high on upper shelves, and the romances in a row along the floor, to keep the two genres’ very different readerships from taking offense.
在皇后区杰克逊高地，用当地印度人和巴基斯坦人所说的语言出版的连载言情小说很受欢迎。穆斯林题材的书籍同样如此。曼苏尔书店(Mansoor Book Store) 的老板胡尔希德·哈桑(Khursheed Hassan)对这两类图书的摆放位置作了特殊安排，宗教类图书被放在书架高处，而言情小说则被安排在靠近地面的底层，这样就可以避免在两种截然不同的读者群中引起不快。
In the Babel that is New York City, where nearly 200 languages are spoken and read within the public school system and nearly 40 percent of the population was born abroad, literary tastes among immigrant cultures turn out to be as different as their cuisines.
But what is popular in foreign languages is not always what is selling well back home in Bahrain or Bucharest. Sometimes they are books that are contraband under authoritarian regimes. Sometimes readers far from home seek out the classics as comforting reminders of their roots. Still others delve into their new culture with translations of school staples like “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” that were never on the curriculum back home.
然而，在外语文化中受欢迎的书，并不一定是那些巴林或布加勒斯特的本土畅销书。它们有时是一些被本国专制统治政权禁止的图书。有时候，远离故土的读者会找来一些经典读物，来抚慰自己的思乡之情；还有些人则通过阅读校园必读书目的译本来探索自己面前的新文化，比如《哈克贝利·费恩历险记》(Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)这种绝不会进入故土课程表的书。
“There are very different cultural tastes,” said Jason Baumann, the coordinator of world languages for the New York Public Library, which serves Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island.
纽约公共图书馆(New York Public Library)的世界语言协调员贾森·鲍曼(Jason Baumann)说，“人们的文化品味千差万别。”这个图书馆的服务范围包括曼哈顿、布朗克斯和斯塔滕岛。
Scanning the usual industry indicators like Publishers Weekly magazine will not reveal what will be popular for New Yorkers from say, Mali or Nepal. Mr. Baumann relies instead on the expertise of foreign-language booksellers based in the United States to figure out what is hot in a particular country.
As the city has exponentially diversified, so have the foreign-language stacks, which now include 60 languages spread across the New York Public Library’s 87 branches.
In the Queens Borough Public Library system, the number of foreign-language books has doubled over the last decade and now includes Bengali, Croatian and multiple languages spoken in Afghanistan. The Brooklyn Public Library caters to cardholders in about 30 languages, according to its Web site, and has a special multilingual center at the main Grand Army Plaza branch.
过去十年间，皇后区公共图书馆(Queens Borough Public Library)系统中的外语图书数量翻了一番，现有图书语种已经包括孟加拉语、克罗地亚语和在阿富汗地区使用的多种语言。根据布鲁克林公共图书馆(Brooklyn Public Library)的网站信息，该图书馆用大约30种语言为读者提供服务，它的大军团广场(Grand Army Plaza)分馆还设有一个专门的多语种服务中心。
As the compositions of the city’s immigrant populations have changed, so, too, have the books that are carried. Mr. Baumann increasingly buys books in French as the city’s population of Francophone Africans has increased. Harlequin Romances are their top request. A Lower East Side branch, once in the heart of Little Germany, has a longstanding endowment to buy books in German, now little used.
At Saint Petersburg Trade House in Brighton Beach, where each supermarket along Brighton Beach Avenue carries caviars from Russia’s Bering Sea priced by grade like gasoline, classical Russian literature, like Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, in Russian are requested daily, said Violet Lazareva, 48, the store’s literary consultant. “All the parents teach their children that they should read Russian classics in Russian,” she said. “They’re better in Russian, really.”
48岁的瓦奥莱特·拉扎雷瓦(Violet Lazareva)是圣彼得堡交易所(Saint Petersburg Trade House)的文学咨询员，她说，每天都有人前来购买俄国的经典文学，比如陀思妥耶夫斯基(Dostoevsky)和托尔斯泰(Tolstoy)的作品。该交易所位于布莱顿海滩，布莱顿海滩大道上的每家超市里都有从俄国白令海运来的鱼子酱，它们也像汽油一样根据等级定价。“所有的父母都告诉自己的孩子，应该阅读俄语原版的俄国经典作品，”她说。“俄语原版的更好，真的。”
(Also wildly popular is a French diet book by Pierre Dukan translated into Russian, roughly titled, “I Don’t Know How to Lose Weight.”)
（一本法语节食书的俄语译本也受到了热烈追捧，该书的作者是皮埃尔·迪康(Pierre Dukan)，书名大致是《我不知道该如何减肥》(I Don’t Know How to Lose Weight)。）
Many children of immigrants do not read their parents’ languages, said Andrzej Szymanik, the owner of Polish Bookstore and Publishing in Greenpoint. He stocked Polish translations of the “Twilight” series, but the books hardly budged. Even his own daughter gobbled up the vampire trilogy in English.
绿点波兰图书零售及出版公司(Polish Bookstore and Publishing)的老板安杰伊·希姆尼克(Andrzej Szymanik)说，很多移民的子女都读不懂自己父辈的语言。他进了一些波兰语版的《暮光之城》(Twilight)系列小说，但这些书根本就卖不出去。连他自己的女儿都是抱着这部吸血鬼三部曲的英文版在狼吞虎咽。
“Teenagers don’t come to the store,” he said. “They don’t read in Polish if they live here. They forget. That’s the fact of life.”
But Chinese-speaking teenage girls come out in force in the Flushing branch of the Queens library, as do their mothers and grandmothers and some men. Every weekend, legions of them cram into an aisle along the far wall of the top floor. They lean on shelves or sit cross-legged on the floor, thumbing through hundreds of slim volumes of highly addictive serial romance novels from Taiwan.
Long a craze in China, and, many readers admit, somewhat schmaltzy, the romances are some of the hottest items in the city’s libraries. The scene is similar at the New York Public Library’s Chatham Square branch in Chinatown, where, Mr. Baumann said, “you’ll have people just tearing through the shelves searching for the most recent Taiwanese romance novel.”
The most popular serialized Chinese-language romance has been checked out about 300 times in the library system. The library’s most popular English-language fiction book, “The Help,” which has sold over five million copies, has been circulated only about 195 times in all 87 branches.
Also popular are contentious or scandalous books, as New Yorkers seek to keep up with books that have relatives back home talking. At Mansoor it is the autobiography of Pervez Musharraf, the former Pakistani president; at the Polish bookstore in Greenpoint, it is an autobiography by the wife of Lech Walesa that exposes the cracks in their family life.
一些带有争议性或者丑闻性质的书籍也很受欢迎，因为纽约人都想跟紧那些可以与亲属们在茶余饭后谈论的图书。在曼苏尔书店，这类书的代表是前任巴基斯坦总统佩尔韦兹·穆沙拉夫(Pervez Musharraf)的自传，而在那家位于绿点的波兰书店，则是莱赫·瓦文萨(Lech Walesa)的夫人所作的自传，她在书中曝光了自己家庭生活的裂缝。
Many request books that are censored in their homelands. Mr. Baumann said that at a Chinatown bookstore that supplies many of the New York Public Library’s Chinese-language books, visiting tourists often asked for books that were considered subversive or anti-Communist and therefore not available at home.
But as the readership of physical books is replaced by tablets and e-readers and the Internet’s myriad distractions, the foreign-language book industry has also been affected. Three years ago, Mr. Szymanik of the Greenpoint bookshop said, he turned to selling Polish foods over the Internet from his base at the store, because book sales slumped.
The bookstore’s current best seller, he said, is kielbasa.