Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Tanja Dückers on the Gender Gap in German Letters

The writer Tanja Dückers has a piece on the FAZ's blog by women, entitled Progress Is A Slow Stepper. She gives us some anecdotes and figures on the disadvantages women writers face in Germany, most significantly lower pay.
Germany's best-known agent, Karin Graf, owner of the large literary and media agency Graf & Graf, says without hesitation that publishing houses offer her less money for manuscripts written by women than for men's manuscripts. It is also easier for men to get their books published in hardcover than for women.
Women writers in Germany earn an average 25% less than their male counterparts. Dückers was once paid €100 less than two men on the same panel. Although things are improving in terms of prizes, German and Austrian literary awards have tended to go overwhelmingly to men. Dückers was the first writer ever to ask for help finding daycare for her children at an American writers-in-residence programme. The programme has been running for sixty years. A German Studies professor wrote in a newspaper review of one of her books (excuse the very literal translation): "With this book, Tanja Dückers has performed a poor blowjob."

None of this is particularly surprising for anyone with an eye for the issue. What I find particularly depressing, however, is that this is happening in German writing, the language that gives us Anglophones the highest percentage of translated literature by women.

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