Thursday, 2 April 2015

Some More Statistics on Translated Fiction

As you may know I'm part of a team trying to get a prize off the ground for fiction by women in translation. We've all noticed that books by women don't get translated as often as books by men, and we're still puzzling over why that is and what can be done about it. But in order to make our case more convincingly, we need some statistics. 

So for that purpose, I’ve done a count of books published in the UK and Ireland in 2013. I culled the main part from the British Library catalogue by searching with “translated by” and “translated from” and “2013”. Because we want to look at fiction in a fairly limited sense for our prize, I didn’t include children’s or YA books, poetry, plays, reprints/reissues or memoir/literary non-fiction (for example, Florian Illes’ 1913 is not included). I did include books published by houses based elsewhere but with a UK/Ire office (Seagull, Dalkey Archive, Europa Editions). It was immediately obvious that there were some titles missing, so I also looked at those catalogues I found online for 2013 from publishers that were already on the list, plus things like an English PEN blog piece featuring UK editors talking about the translations they were looking forward to publishing in 2013. I’m certain there are still gaps in the list, but here it is:

List of UK/Ireland-published translated fiction, 2013

There are now 307 books in total, 82 of them written by women (in the case of anthologies, they all included more men than women so I counted them as male). That gives us a figure of 27%.

I also went through the stats collected by Literature Across Frontiers, on translated literature published in the UK and Ireland in the years 2000 and 2008. This data is different to my list for a number of reasons: It includes children’s books, translated books on literature, poetry, plays, reissues and a few duplicates like large-print editions. For our purposes, I only listed each name once, even when a writer had several books out in one year, and I didn’t include writers where I was unable to establish via a quick search whether they were men or women. I also left out Latin, ancient Greek, Old Norse and Old English, because I figured women really couldn’t write in those days.

For both years, 24% of the authors whose books were translated into English were women.

Here are a few observations I’ve picked up along the way:

Women writers are better represented in translated children’s books and crime fiction.
Northern European women are better represented than women writers from other parts of the world.
In 2013, I found no translated fiction by Russian women but all three Greek writers I found were women.
In the literatures that are traditionally more heavily imported, 13 women were translated from German (out of 44), 12 from French (out of 52), 7 from Italian (out of 28) and 6 from Spanish (out of 25). Yay German!
Classics tend to be a male-only domain (no surprises there).

I haven’t found any international statistics on books originally published in the various languages. My assumption though is that the imbalance in part reflects that women are actually published less in certain cultures. However, they are also less recognized in most literary cultures (as in the Anglophone world), which adds to the imbalance.

I'd like to ask people, translators and publishing people especially, to take a look at my list via the first link above and check whether there are any books missing. You can let me know in the comments section. Many thanks - and enjoy browsing!


Unknown said...

I'm sure all that counting must have been fun ;)

By the way, how is the prize idea coming along?

kjd said...

Slowly but surely, Tony.

Anonymous said...

Here's a book I translated:

The Limit, by Riikka Pulkkinen, translated by Lola Rogers

Scribe Publications, Melbourne & London, 2013.

ISBN-10: 1922070343
ISBN-13: 978-1922070340

kjd said...

Thank you!

Konrad Barsony said...

Hello everyone I know this is not the topic discussing here but with what I Have be through and my bad experience, I want to Please everyone should be careful and stop being deceived by all these brokers and account managers, they scammed me over $500,000 of my investment capital, they kept on requesting for extra funds before a withdrawal request can be accepted and processed, in the end, I lost all my money. All efforts to reach out to their customer support desk had declined, I found it very hard to move on. God so kind I followed a broadcast that teaches on how scammed victims can recover their fund, I contacted the Email:, provided for consultation, I got feedback after some hours and I was asked to provide all legal details concerning my investment, I did exactly what they instructed me to do without delay, to my greatest surprise I was able to recover my money back including my profit which my capital generated. I said I will not hold this to myself but share it to the public so that all scammed victims can get their funds back. Chat Them on WhatsApp +1 519 398 1460. Reach him on Instagram: @wizardwierzbickiprogrammer

Mctonic William said...

I was scammed by an Instagram person faking a celebrity i talked with this scammer 8 months via WhatsApp and I sent money to them via Bitcoin then I was cohered to give my banking login and from there they hustled me out of my 20k from the unemployment money they said oh I routed money to your account and never gave me time to verify that was my unemployment money. They were really patient with me and waited 8 months for my payment then I exposed video on WhatsApp. They asked me to bitcoin the money via atm. But for the timely intervention of Mr. Wizard Brixton, who just in kick-off on time got back my $20,000. He is really good at what he does, I have recommended him to friends and co-workers who all became satisfied customers. He has helped me a lot in the trading industry, you can reach him at WIZARDBRIXTON AT GMAIL DOT COM for Everything. Hacking and Funds Recovering he is the best and has different skills in funds recovering and exposing scammers. Am glad and happy to recover back my money (WIZARDBRIXTON)AT GMAIL DOT COM WhatsApp +1 807 234 0428 You can also text or call +1 807 234 0428