August is Women in Translation Month

I read #womenintranslation-logoSo my sisters who’ve been working on the important task of getting more attention paid to female authors in translation – who historically have been direly underrepresented vis-a-vis their literary brethren – have now declared August to be Women in Translation month (following the lead of @Biblibio) and are enlisting bookstores far and wide to spend the month featuring books in translation that were written by women. Ink84 in London is on board, as is Ocelot in Berlin. How about a local bookstore near you? As I’m sure you’ll recall reading on this blog last year, studies show that women get translated at a much lower rate than men, and that even if they do get translated, their books are statistically much less likely to be selected for translation prizes than those of their male counterparts. Biblibio just released a new set of crunched numbers, showing no improvement at all over previous years. We’re looking to change these lousy percentages, because we assume that unconscious bias (to make the charitable assumption) has a lot more to do with the imbalance than any differential in literary quality. As someone who translates some extraordinary female authors (Jenny Erpenbeck! Yoko Tawada!) and loves to read others (e.g. this one right now), I have no doubt whatever when it comes to the ability of female authors to knock one’s proverbial socks off with their on-the-page prowess. If you want to start (or continue) reading your way into the wonderful world of international literature by woman, here are a few suggestions assembled by the inimitable Katy Derbyshire, who’s done so much to draw attention to the gender gap in translation over the last couple of years: she’s just put together a list of translated books by female authors published in English since 2010. Please don’t tell me you were going to hit the beach with just a magazine. Take a novel! Tweet your read with #WITMonth! And next time you’re in your favorite bookstore, ask them to put up a Women in Translation Month sign and assemble a little altar of beautiful translated books.

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