As you may know this is the Women in Translation Month, started by Meytal Radzinski at Biblibio. Only a quarter or so of books translated into English are by women so this is a time to draw attention to the awesomeness that’s out there and celebrate it. And because it’s a look at marginalized voices transgender and nonbinary authors are included in the mix, huzzah!
This is the fourth #WiTMonth and it’s been growing up nicely. As Radzinski put in a recent post,
This is how I think it should be. Not every reader necessarily devoting all their time to reading women in translation all of August, but enough different readers and reviewers and bloggers and translators and publishers talking about the subject. People learning about the publishing imbalance in translation between men and women. People seeking out new and diverse literature by women writers from around the world. And people doing it not out of any sense of obligation or guilt, but because there are so many good books that this just becomes a month that focuses their reading. This becomes a month with a greater density of recommendations, with more posts, with more attention. Women in translation must exist yearlong, but in August we get to give them that extra platform that they might not always have.
This. All the this.
In that spirit I won’t be devoting my entire August to women in translation but I do have some interesting titles lined up and ready to go. Looking for a place to start? Here are some of my recent favorites:
Seeing Red by Lina Meruane, translated by Megan McDowell
This book clawed into my brain. The prose is relentless, the story is haunting, and the fact that it’s an autobiographical novel makes the main character’s anguish all the more real.
The First Wife by Paulina Chiziane, translated by David Brookshaw
Mozambique’s first published female novelist drops us into her country and tells the story of Rami, a first wife that just found out that her husband actually has five. The prose has a delightful rhythm to it and I cheered for and commiserated with Rami every step of the way.
A Simple Story: The Last Malambo by Leila Guerriero, translated by Frances Riddle
The rarest of the rare – non-fiction in translation. The Malambo quickly became my favorite dance that I never knew about as Guerriero follows the dancers that put everything into their craft… for the honor of never being able to dance it again. Powerful and sure to be one of my favorite reads of 2017.
And now for a reading list! I picked up The Weaver by Emmi Itäranta thinking it was a translation, but it looks like she rewrote it in English so I’m not sure it counts. That’s okay, though, as there’s so much to pick from! Right now I’m looking at:
- The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz, translated by Elisabeth Jaquette
- Eve Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi, translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman
- Translation as Transhumance by Mireille Gansel, translated by Ros Schwartz (to be published November 2017) – perhaps the most fitting book ever ;)
I’d love to hear your recommendations, especially if you know of any non-fiction by women in translation!