Did you know that less than a third of all literary translations published in the UK and the US were originally written by women? Did you know that women writers win far fewer prizes for their translated books than male writers?
Women in Translation Month is all about appreciating the great women writers who do get translated – and of course the people who bring them to us, their translators and publishers. It’s an opportunity to join in a worldwide conversation about outstanding writing from all over the globe. Bookshops and libraries in the UK, US, Germany, France and New Zealand are highlighting translated books by women. Bloggers are sharing their impressions, the twitterati are pulling together under #WITMonth, and anyone can be part of it just by reading a book.
With only 30% of translated fiction being female-authored, it’s a safe bet that those books by women that do get translated are genuinely excellent. Women around the world are writing explicitly feminist fiction like Angélica Gorodischer from Argentina, bringing us family stories like France’s Marie NDiaye, exploring historical issues like Chinese writer Yan Geling or sexuality like Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay from India, or giving us intercultural crime novels like Finland’s Kati Hiekkapelto. Despite their relative rarity in English, translated women offer a wealth of diversity.
So why not join in August’s Women in Translation Month? Simply pick up a book and enjoy it – or you could go a step further and write a review on Amazon or Goodreads, keep an eye out for literary events, hold a WiT-themed reading group, invite friends to present their favourite foreign females at a party, learn a new language and travel the world in search of an undiscovered woman writer to translate, set up a publishing house… the sky’s the limit.
If you're in Berlin, you could head for ocelot on Brunnenstraße. They've put together a fine selection of books written by women and translated into English – and German! Pop by and support your local bookshop and global women writers in one fell swoop.
The picture at the top is part of an artwork by Heather Marie Scholl. If you are Heather Marie Scholl and you read this, thanks for the great work and I hope it's OK to use the picture totally out of context. If not, please let me know.