August 2016 was Women in Translation month.
A collective effort, managed by book blogger Meytal Radzinski, but propagated by readers, by the hashtags #WomeninTranslation month, #WITmonth and #WomeninTranslation, and by publishers and booksellers, the month has drawn attention to the wealth and quality of translated books written by women.
As part of their efforts to spread the word about the month and the range of titles in translation, many organisations have taken up the sometimes derided, but in this instance very useful tool of the listicle.
Here I’d like to create the European Literature Network’s digest of these lists, highlighting some European titles I come across in the process.
- The Reading Agency has recommended fourteen women in translation titles (including Elena Ferrante and Valeria Luiselli) as part of their Reading Groups for Everyone lists. Get lost – and possibly book-broke – by downloading The Reading Agency’s more extensive #WITmonth list here.
- Words Without Borders offers thirty-one titles on their list, recommending, among others, Dorthe Nors and Dubravka Ugrešic.
- Verso honoured #WITmonth with their Celebratory Reading List of translated non-fiction works by women covering journalism, political theory, literary and film studies, including the letters and complete works of Rosa Luxemburg.
- Translator from German Katy Derbyshire decided to take a day pulling together as long a list as she could of women in translation published since 2010. It only provides the essentials – but is an eminently useful resource.
- US blogger Susan Bernofsky’s Translationista website approached publishers to recommend – and offer discounts on – one translated title each written by a woman. The list includes OR Books’ important recommendation: a Russian/English bilingual anthology Gay Propaganda.
- English PEN may have jumped the #WITmonth gun – but their list of women to read in translation (published to mark International Women’s Day 2016), put together by #readwomen founder, Joanna Walsh, is instructive, including French Oulipo writers Michèle Audin and Anne Garréta, and the Austrian Nobel Prize-winner Elfriede Jelinek.
Bookshops took up the listing challenge too.
- The London Review Bookshop published a sixteen-strong list of translated works by women, including Swedish writer Lina Wolff’s English debut.
- The Bookseller published a wide-ranging article, looking at how the UK’s independent bookshops were marking #WITmonth, and providing news about what publishers are doing to address the translation inequity women writers face.
Many other such lists were produced throughout August, and the drive to translate and publish more women writers continues. Small publishers – namely And Other Stories and Tilted Axis – are committing to only publishing books by female writers in 2018, and new imprints Calisi Press and Les Fugitives have been launched with the remit to publish only women in translation.
By West Camel