This August marks the third annual Women in Translation Month (WITmonth), as introduced by Meytal Radzinski back in 2014.
There is no set schedule of books to read this year, no fixed geographical areas or particular languages that have been highlighted either. So, what exactly are the rules, then? Simply to read women in translation, share books you have read or are currently reading, and to find more women in translation.
Why? Radzinski has compiled a quick series of stats regarding women in translation, and it’s just depressing. To summarise:
- only ~30% of translations into English are by women writers;
- (something I noticed when trying to find books to read this month) most of the top publishers of literature in translation publish very few women in translation;
- (I saw that a lot more university presses/not-for-profit presses offer translated books by women than commercial publishers, but) university presses struggle even more to promote women in translation; and
- there is an imbalance which exists across many languages and many countries (also evident when I was looking for WIT books to read).
Women in translation deserve a wider audience. I want Ana Cristina Cesar’s poetry translated and published. Wider attention should be given to Israeli poets like Agi Mishol and to under-represented languages/countries in the world. We live in a time where information is so easily accessible, but in searching for WIT books, there is a huge imbalance in readily published material translated for the global market.
So, the 6 books I plan to read for WITmonth:
- Panty, Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay [India/Bengali – Tilted Axis Press]
- The Hour of the Star, Clarice Lispector [Brazil – Penguin Random House]
- The Housekeeper and the Professor, Yoko Ogawa [Japan – Vintage]
- Cleopatra Dismounts, Carmen Boullosa [Mexico – Grove Atlantic Press]
- The Swing in the Middle of the Chaos, Sylva Fischerová [Czech Republic – Bloodaxe]
- 70% Acrylic, 30% Wool, Viola di Grado [Italy – Europa Editions]
Each book is less than 250 pages, published after 2000, no two books have been written in the same language or are written by writers in the same area, and no two/more books have been published by the same publisher.
Will you be reading any books for WITmonth? Will you be updating progress via blog, twitter or Goodreads? Are any interested in having a Goodreads reading group set up devoted to just women in translation? Because I have just created a group…
First page of results when googling “women writers in translation” yields the following three articles:
- Where are the women writers in translation, Guardian (March 2008)
- Briefing notes: Where are the women in translation, Free Word (September 2014)
- Women in Translation: Why does it matter, Free Word – Katy Derbyshire (February 2016)
“Where”, “where” and “why” – how telling!
In looking for WITmonth books to read, I noticed that independent publishers are the ones actively involved in publishing women in translation. By no means a complete list, some of these publishers include: Pushkin Press, Comma Press, Europa Editions, Peirene Press, Portobello, Deep Vellum Publishing, Tilted Axis Press, etc. Buy from the big corps (books are books are books), but also show love for the indie publishers. They’re all kinds of awesome.
I came across a couple of good lists compiled [x], [x], but the best has to be the master list of WIT books published since 2010 by Katy Derbyshire [x]. All are good starting points in finding new writers.