Katy Derbyshire on Women in Translation Month

As you probably already know, Katy Derbyshire is one of the literary translators working hardest to make sure that we can have nice things. She’s just written up an excellent account of what Women in Translation Month is all about. Here’s a taste:

Only a tiny fraction of fiction published in English is translated, and only about a quarter of that translated fiction was originally written by women. For some reason, fiction in translation by women remains as rare as black diamonds. And yet there are so many amazing women-authored books out there in the world – books we’re missing out on.

Women in Translation or WiT, is a global collaborative project to help remedy the discrepancy between the amount of works by women published in English translation, and how they are critically received. We think the publishing and reading community would benefit from translating more women. Remember what sparked the current boom in translated fiction? It was crime writing. Scandinavian detective stories made many readers overcome their reluctance to reach for anything genuinely foreign. Scandicrime broadened the audience for translated fiction. And now translated fiction written by women is poised to do the same. And not just Elena Ferrante – who has gathered a fan base of readers addicted to her stories of female friendship, as translated by Ann Goldstein. But also translated genre fiction of all kinds. Last February, the number 1 on Amazon’s US list of bestselling historical romance books was German novelist Corina Bomann’s The Moonlit Garden (trans. Alison Layland). That certainly suggests a lot of potential readers for translated fiction.

From literary fiction like Japanese-German Yoko Tawada’s new novel Memoirs of a Polar Bear (trans. Susan Bernofsky) to non-fiction like Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich’s Second-hand Time (trans. Bela Sheyavich) or graphic novels like Marjane Satrapi’s best-selling Persepolis (trans. Blake Ferris and Mattias Ripa), or genre writing like that of Argentinian writer Angélica Gorodischer (trans. Ursula K. LeGuin, Amalia Gladhart and Sue Burke), women writers in translation are primed to impress and enthrall  readers of all kinds of books… WiT is all about making them more visible, and more plentiful in turn…

For the rest of her post, including a Q&A section and suggestions of how to get involved, please visit the Women in Translation website. And note that I’m keeping a running tab of Women in Translation events around the world – please send me yours for inclusion!

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