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Friday, 24 July 2015

Women In Translation Month - August 2015

August is fast approaching and that means the planning for 2015’s version of Women In Translation Month has commenced in earnest.

Last year I participated in the inaugural Women In Translation Month after learning from Meytal Radzinski at the appalling lack of coverage (or existence) of women writers in translation. The coverage of this gulf has improved with media reports calling for better outcomes with one publisher even declaring that in 2017 they will dedicate their full list to women in translation. But has the understanding of the problem fixed the plight? For example, large translation publisher Dalkey Archive (and I don’t mean to single them out here but I will) actually published ZERO books by females in the last twelve months. With thirty tiles and ZERO women!!! That is outrageous. For more data and statistics have a look at

Personally I feel that this year has been a bit of a breakthrough year, with publicity of the problem, discussion about the issue as well as “The End Of Days” by Jenny Erpenbeck (translated by Susan Bernofsky) winning the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and Can Xue’s “The Last Lover” (translated by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen) taking out the Best Translated Book Award – two women writers AND two women translators. We also had the discovery of a missing Independent Foreign Fiction Prize winner from 2001 Marta Morazzoni’s “The Alphonse Courrier Affair”, making Erpanbeck the second female to win the prize. Having said that two women writers as winners in a twenty year history of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize is simply not good enough.

Whilst I chose my reading from long and short lists of well known prizes, it does therefore reflect the poor coverage of women writers. So August is a time to address the imbalance. In the last twelve months (since last year’s WIT Month) I have reviewed fourteen works by women in translation (click on the links for my review)

So what’s up for 2015’s version?

First up I will be looking at the missing Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Winner “The Alphonse Courrier Affair” by Marta Morazzoni, I’ll then look at “Sphinx” by Anne Garreta and Kettly Mars’ “Savage Seasons” as two highly regarded new releases. It is then a case of going through the shelves and picking what suits my mood with a commitment to eventually read Marie NDiaye’s “Three Strong Women” and Judith Schalansky’s “The Giraffe’s Neck” they will feature there somewhere as will the Best Translated Book Award winner “The Last Lover” by Can Xiu. The remaining choices will be a surprise (if I get to more than six books in the month!!!)

If you’ve never read a book by a female in translation, now’s the time to start. With numbers telling us that approximately 3% of all English published books are works in translation and with women only represented in 31% of those books, it is time you got outside of your comfort zone and tried something a little different – visit the page explaining the month, with links to a database of works to chose from you have no excuses. Basically join in and have fun, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

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